Facebook at 10: Zuckerberg hails 'incredible journey'
Today marks 10 years since Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook from his dorm room at Harvard University. Since then, the site has grown to become a global social network with more 1.2 billion monthly active users.
“It's been an incredible journey so far, and I'm so grateful to be a part of it. It's been amazing to see how people have used Facebook to build a real community and help each other in so many ways," said Zuckerberg. "In the next decade, we have the opportunity and responsibility to connect everyone and to keep serving the community as best we can.”
Zuckerberg launched "Thefacebook" with his college roommates and fellow Harvard University students Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes on 4 February 2004. Membership was initially restricted to students of Harvard College; within the first month, more than half the undergraduates at Harvard were registered on the service.
Six days after the site launched, three Harvard seniors (Cameron Winklevoss, Tyler Winklevoss, and Divya Narendra) accused Zuckerberg of intentionally misleading them into believing he would help them build a social network called HarvardConnection.com. They claimed he was instead using their ideas to build a competing product. The three complained to The Harvard Crimson and the newspaper began an investigation. They later filed a lawsuit against Zuckerberg, subsequently settling in 2008 for 1.2m shares (worth $300m at Facebook's IPO).
In March 2004, Facebook expanded to the universities of Columbia, Stanford, and Yale. It later opened to all Ivy League colleges, Boston University, New York University, the MIT, and gradually most universities in Canada, the United States and beyond.
Napster founder and entrepreneur Sean Parker (an informal advisor to Zuckerberg) became the company's president in mid-2004. Facebook moved its operations to Palo Alto, California, and received its first investment from PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel. By the end of 2004, Facebook had reached 1 million users.
The following year, the company dropped the 'the' from its name after purchasing the domain name facebook.com for $200,000. Facebook also expanded membership eligibility to high-school students and employees of several companies, including Apple and Microsoft.
In September 2006, Facebook was opened to everyone at least 13 years old with a valid email address. The company also launched its News Feed, allowing users to get continuous updates on what their friends were doing. The feature was controversial at the time, but soon became an integral part of the service.
Facebook announced that it had turned cash-flow positive for the first time in September 2009. Traffic to Facebook increased steadily to reach 360 million users by the end of 2009, and 608 million by the end of 2010. The company introduced the 'Like' button on 9 February 2009.
In November 2010, private exchange SecondMarket valued Facebook at $41bn making it the third largest American web company after Google and Amazon.com.
Facebook held an initial public offering on 17 May 2012, negotiating a share price of $38. The company was valued at at $104bn, the largest valuation to date for a newly listed public company.
The IPO raised $16bn, making it the third largest in US history. However, the value of the stock declined rapidly, and by the end of May 2012, it had lost over a quarter of its starting value. Its user base continued to grow, and in October 2012, Facebook announced that it had more than one billion active users.
Since the IPO, Facebook has focused on expanding its mobile offering, improving its privacy controls and refining its advertising proposition. Mobile ads accounted for 53pc of advertising revenue in the fourth quarter, compared with 49pc the previous quarter, prompting shares to soar to close to $60.
However, analysts have warned that Facebook's popularity is waning, with teenagers viewing the site as “uncool” and keeping their profiles live purely to stay in touch with older relatives. A recent report by GlobalWebIndex found that Facebook has declined by 3pc over the last six months, in the face of growing competition from new social media apps like WeChat, SnapChat and WhatsApp.
Today, 757 million users log on to Facebook daily . If Facebook was a country, it would be the third largest in the world by population. Last week, Facebook’s market capitalisation passed the $150bn mark, putting it in a very exclusive club of companies to break through the watershed valuation before they turned 10 years old.