Facebook is likely to go public in late 2012, Facebook board member, PayPal co-founder and venture capitalist Peter Thiel told Fox Business News and a Reuters reporter at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference this week in San Francisco.

During the TV interview with Fox News on Monday, Thiel noted that the company plans to take a page from Google’s playbook when it comes to the IPO’s timing. In other words, said Thiel, “you do not go public until very, very late in the process.”

According to the Fox News interview, Facebook doesn’t plan to IPO “for a while,” said Thiel. “We will stay private as long as possible” and 2012 would be the earliest that Facebook would consider doing this, he said.

These statements put a firmer timeline on the IPO than those that Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckberberg gave to The Wall Street Journal earlier this year. “We’re going to go public eventually, because that’s the contract that we have with our investors and our employees. We are definitely in no rush,” he had told the paper in March.

What’s Facebook Worth?

How much an IPO will be worth when it launches is still very much up in the air. The WSJ found some investors were anticipating a market capitalization of $35 to $40 billion, given a 2011 IPO. Lou Kerner, a former analyst at Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs, thought Facebook could be worth even more: $59 billion in 2011 and over $100 billion in 2015. More recently, others, such as 37Signals’ David Heinemeier Hansson, have called these claims outrageous.

Meanwhile, Reuters’ sources said Facebook revenue approached $800 million in 2009 and the company was already profitable.

Facebook now has over 500 million users and its backers include Digital Sky Technologies, Microsoft Corp, Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka Shing and venture capital firms Accel Partners, Greylock Partners and Meritech Capital Partners.

No Love for Facebook Movie, “The Social Network”

In Thiel’s TV interview, he also criticized the upcoming movie about the founding of Facebook called “The Social Network,” saying that the film was full of “many inaccuracies” and “petty lies” and it was a “Hollywood portrayal of Silicon Valley where everything is a zero-sum game.” The only positive thing he had to say about the movie was that it told “young Americans that they can still create great companies in this country.”

Here’s a YouTube clip of the original Fox News interview. (The Facebook statements are made at the 5:00 minute mark).

sarah perez