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Here’s a link to hours of entertainment. Seriously.

That is Facebook’s Form S-1 Registration Statement, the company’s first official step toward an initial public offering of its stock, filed a short time ago with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission.

From CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s introductory letter to the financial footnotes, the massive filing provides the first real glimpse into the business behind the site that has put itself at the center of our digital lives.

A few of the key stats from the filing:

  • Facebook in 2011 generated more than $3.7 billion in revenue, and earned a profit of $1 billion.
  • Advertising was responsible for 85 percent of that revenue in 2011 (down from 98 percent in 2009).
  • Zynga was responsible for 12 percent of Facebook’s revenue in 2011, through its advertising purchases and Facebook’s cut of Zynga’s sale of virtual goods to its Facebook users.

Like the Google founders before him, Mark Zuckerberg includes a letter in the S-1 that seeks to set expectations so that people who invest in the company know what they’re getting into.

“Simply put: we don’t build services to make money; we make money to build better services,” he writes. “And we think this is a good way to build something. These days I think more and more people want to use services from companies that believe in something beyond simply maximizing profits.”

The $5 billion IPO would be largest ever by an Internet company, the New York Times reports.

I’m still reading through the filing. If you spend time with it, I’d love to hear your observations and findings. TechMeme is another good place to see reports from others digging through the details.

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