Facebook is just about ready to change its IPO status to "public," sources tell CNBC. The social networking behemoth, which had previously kept its financial numbers under lock and key, will likely go public in the first quarter of next year at a valuation of $100 billion. Because Facebook expects to cross the 500-investor mark this year, "the 500 rule" will kick in, requiring it to report its financial information quarterly. Sources says it likely wants to launch the IPO before that requirement would begin in April, hence the Q1 IPO.
Another motivation behind a public offering could be increasing employee compensation—especially after Facebook last year put the kibosh on workers selling their shares, likely prompting many to quit in order to do so. If Facebook were to go public, employees could sell their shares freely. Earlier this year, a $1.5 billion investment in Facebook organized on behalf of its clients by Goldman Sachs put the company's worth at $50 billion. (Read more Facebook stories.)