The hottest social networks and other new media stars have not yet launched an IPO (I am talking about companies like Facebook, Twitter, Zynga, LinkedIn, etc.).
However, there are two ways to buy pre-IPO shares:
1. Through the secondary market, as this Financial Times article spells out. You have to go through private equity firms, through investment funds, or through a secondary market, such as SecondMarket.
2. Or, you can buy shares in companies that, in turn, own shares in such new companies. Some examples are Microsoft or Google, but a greater exposure can be had through mail.ru Group (formerly known as Digital Sky Technologies), which itself will be launching a London-based IPO for global depositary receipts on the LSE under the ticker ‘MAIL’. mail.ru Group holds 10 % of Facebook, owns ICQ, and has large stakes of shares in Zynga, Groupon, and Russia’s biggest social network, vKontakte.ru
Further details on the MAIL IPO in techcrunch.