Facebook, the social networking site, is expected to make a host of investors billions when it goes public, which some speculate could happen within a year.
According to media reports, Facebook is worth at least $33 billion based on secondary market transactions. This would make it one of the most valuable tech companies of all time, with a market capitalisation greater than Ebay and Yahoo.
Nevertheless, it is considerably less than Google, which had a market capitalisation of around $140 billion at the end of August. Earlier this year, Facebook surpassed Google to become the most visited website in the US for the first time.
Mark Zuckerberg (pictured), co-founder and head of Facebook, is likely to be the biggest shareholder. Media reports suggest he owns at least 20% - although that is subject to considerable speculation.
Co-founders Dustin Moskovitz and Sean Parker, who also founded online music file sharing service Napster, also own sizeable chunks in Facebook.
Peter Thiel, the co-founder of PayPal and hedge fund manager, will be the biggest winner outside of the company from the Facebook phenomenon. In 2004, he made the first investment in Facebook, giving the business $500,000 in return for just over 10% of the company.
Jim Breyer and his venture capital firm Accel Partners were also earlier investors in Facebook, investing $13 million back in 2005.
Tiger Global Management, a hedge fund controlled by Charles Payson Coleman, also owns equity.
Private equity group Elevation Partners, which owns around 1.5% in Facebook, has made more recent investments. Elevation Partners founder and managing director is Bono, the Irish rock star.
Other Facebook backers include Digital Sky Technologies, Microsoft Corp, Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing and venture capital firms Greylock Partners and Meritech Capital Partners.
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