Hundreds of would-be Facebook investors queued around the block at a midtown New York hotel Monday to hear Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg kick off the social networking company’s road show to promote its coming $11.8 billion US initial public offering of shares.

Zuckerberg, who turns 28 in one week, made his appearance at the Sheraton Hotel in jeans and a black sweatshirt just before 1 p.m. ET.

The world's largest online social network has more than 900 million users worldwide.

The offering by the Menlo Park, Ca.-based firm, the biggest ever for an internet company, could give it a stock market value of as much as $96 billion.

The IPO will put more than 337 million shares up for sale at between $28 and $35 each.

The final price will be set on May 17 and the issue will debut the following day.

The sale is expected to exceed the 2004 IPO by Google, which raised $1.9 billion and gave the firm a market value then of about $23 billion.

Zuckerberg will keep tight control over the company even after the IPO.

He controls 57 per cent of the company's voting power, which means he will have final say over the biggest decisions facing the company.