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Facebook raises $500 million, now valued at $50 billion

It’s hard to imagine that even Mark Zuckerberg could have foreseen netting a half-a-billion dollar investment when he founded Facebook seven years ago from his Harvard dorm room. But that’s exactly the kind of money that his social media company is now attracting from investors. The New York Times has reported that Facebook has recently shored up a $500 million dollar investment package from Goldman Sachs and a Russia’s Digital Sky Technologies in a deal that values the company at $50 billion –  nearly double Yahoo’s valuation, but still short of Google.

Goldman Sachs accounted for the lion’s share of the investment with an offering of $450 million. Goldman’s investment deal included a provision to allow clients of the financial firm to invest in private Facebook shares. Clients would have to put up a bare minimum of $200 million to invest in Facebook and would be prohibited from selling shares until 2013. Goldman Sachs thinks it can raise $1.5 billion from the deal.

Facebook remains a privately held company, and Zuckerberg remains coy about prospects for initial public offering. Digital Sky added to a previous stake with a $50 million investment.

Facebook has surpassed Google as the most visited website in the U.S., according to a recent report issued by Experian Hitwise that examined Web traffic from 2010. Facebook received 8.9 percent of all website visits from January through November of last year, while Google was the second most popular online destination with 7.2 percent of all Web visits.