Few, if any, companies have experienced Facebook's level of meteoric growth. In less than a decade, the company has gone from a Harvard kid's dorm-room hobby to a multibillion-dollar enterprise and a worldwide phenomenon.
Now, with the social network preparing to go public, the company is looking to raise as much as $10 billion with its initial public offering. Experts estimate that the IPO will value the company at somewhere between $75 billion and $100 billion. Point of reference: Apple's market capitalization is over $400 billion, Google's is around $188 billion, and Amazon's is about $80 billion.
A few more numbers to ponder:
- Facebook's net income for 2011 hit $1 billion in 2011, on revenue of $3.7 billion.
- 86% of net income comes from advertising.
- 12% of Facebook's revenue comes via Zynga (Farmville).
- Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg owns around 28% of Facebook, pre-IPO.
- Zuckerberg plans to give himself a salary of $1 in 2013 (How Jobs-ian).
- Zuckerberg spent roughly $800,000 on airplanes in 2011.
- Peter Thiel's $500,000 investment in 2004 will be worth around $2.2 billion.
For Facebook to have such a large IPO is a testament to the site's enormous popularity and points to its even larger potential. As of December 2011, the site had 845 million monthly active users. In December 2004, the site (then available only to college students) had about 1 million registered users. To go from 1 million to 845 million in seven years is, well, pretty impressive.
But it's not just how many Facebook users there are, it's what those users do on the site. As of 2010, users were uploading 3 billion photos to the site every month. Fifty percent of all users logged on in a given day. And the average user spends nearly an hour on Facebook every day. Every 20 minutes, 10.2 million comments were made on the site. Those kind of numbers get investors (and advertisers, who are always eager for eyeballs) very, very excited.
More than 80% of Facebook users come from outside the United States and Canada. The site is truly worldwide. But there is some cause for caution. The site's growth slowed somewhat last year. According to the blog Inside Facebook, "the United States lost nearly 6 million users, falling from 155.2 million at the start of May to 149.4 million at the end of it."
According to the company's filing, it earned "$668 million on revenue of $3.7 billion last year... Both figures nearly doubled from 2010."
As anyone who's ever invested in a sure thing and lost their shirt can tell you, past performance doesn't always indicate future success. But based on the site's tremendous popularity, many investors are quite willing to take a chance. Yahoo! searches on "Facebook IPO" have soared into breakout status over the past 24 hours.
- Mark Zuckerberg