7 Startling Numbers We Now Know About Facebook


Facebook numbersNow that Facebook has filed its paperwork to go public, we're getting our first real glimpse at the inner workings of the world's largest social networking website.

It's pretty impressive.

Let's set aside the potential for Facebook's valuation to get out hand. We're still several weeks away from actual deal pricing and retail investor reactions. What we have now are the company's fundamentals.

Let's dive into a few of the numbers that may surprise you.

845 million: Facebook has 845 million monthly active users. Yes, that's impressive. Some skeptics who thought Facebook was celebrating milestones of cumulative registrations probably didn't realize the dot-com darling only counts current users.

483 million:
There are 483 million daily active users. In other words, more than half of Facebook's users are on the website in any given day. The key point here is that while active monthly users have climbed by 39% over the past year, daily active users have increased by 48%. In other words, Facebook continues to get stickier with consumers.

100 billion: There are 100 billion -- yes, billion -- friendship connections on the website. The next time someone brings up Google+, Pinterest, or whatever the Facebook killer flavor of the week may be, realizing that undoing the connections that Facebook has already secured is far easier said than done.

$3.7 billion: That's the amount of revenue Facebook generated last year. You didn't think a "free" website could generate that kind of money? Well, Facebook is the runaway leader in display advertising, and it's starting to make a decent amount of money through the payment platform that app developers are using. A neat thing about the revenue is that it's 88% ahead of 2010's top-line sum. Remember from two paragraphs ago how the number of monthly active users grew by 39% over the past year. Relative to that, an 88% growth in revenue means Facebook is milking more money out of every user.

$1 billion: Facebook generated net income of $1 billion in 2011, and it has been profitable in each of the past three years. Divide $1 billion into $3.7 billion and you get net margins of 27%. That's deeply impressive for a company that was born in a Harvard dorm room not too long ago.

12%: No company has embraced social gaming and its potential on Facebook the way Zynga (ZNGA) has. A beefy 12% of Facebook's revenue comes from Zynga cutting it in on a piece of its gaming revenue action.

$3.9 billion: Facebook had $3.9 billion in cash at the end of 2011. Its working capital clocked in at $3.7 billion. Obviously, Facebook isn't going public because it needs to raise money. It just needs to give its early investors a way out.

Cynics have been comparing Facebook's IPO to last year's overpriced Groupon (GRPN) debut, but Groupon wasn't profitable and probably did need the money.

Facebook's coming. It's not going to be cheap.

Longtime Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz does not own shares in any stocks in this article.

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James Stein

Facebook's revenue from payment-related fees grew from $13M in 2009 to $557M in 2011. Unlike Google, Facebook (http://www.facebook.com) was able to find a second major revenue source very early in its development and that gives it a huge advantage over its sometime rival. Of course, the social network benefits from the fact that it is the sole issuer of its virtual currency and processor of its payments, but this monopolistic status will not last long. Sooner rather than later, Facebook will be forced to open up its payments platform to outsiders, either by regulatory pressure or by some other external factor. For a more detailed analysis: ­http://blog.unibulmerchantservices.com/one-upping-google-facebook-has-become-a-payments-platform.

February 23 2012 at 5:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

FB is "social" media at its finest. There is no question where young Zuck's sentiments lie. I just wonder how much of all this mad money will filter its way to the Obama campaign? Never hurts to have the highest of high friends in DC.

February 05 2012 at 6:44 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Obvious that Motley Fool has the FB mentality. I don't think much of Motley Fool. Another hype financial rip off.

February 05 2012 at 8:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Lots of people still have FB accounts, but they hardly ever post anything anymore...I think people just signed on at 1st to gather friends, sorta like squirlls gathering nuts...It was a passing fad, just like Cabbager Patch dolls...

February 04 2012 at 6:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to cardenjasper's comment

Daily Facebook posts frequently set new all-time highs.

February 04 2012 at 10:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It's sorta a Ponzi scheme.. The early investors need to be paid cause people still have FB accounts but most people are getting tired of it... I know that I used it a lot at 1st but like other's have started to get tired of all the "What I am doing at the moment posts"..But I do enjoy looking at pictures of family and friends that are far away..

February 04 2012 at 6:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I never click on any ads that are on fb and have asked my friends if they do and everyone says no...Am seeing a sharp dropoff in my friends logging onto and posting on fb also.... Seems to me like it is mostly retired people or stay at home moms that post the most on it.. Was told the other day that younger poople still have FB accounts but that they are tweeting or emailing their friends cause they don't want everything they send to be seen by everyone..

February 04 2012 at 6:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Psych Doc


February 03 2012 at 8:17 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

i get the ad money, but who actually pays for anything (buying anything) via FB?

February 02 2012 at 8:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
gymbo bogymm

THey are still dependent on ADVERTISERS...That is the problem,,,,No subscription fee's or constant cash flow...You are pumpinga AOL wannabe...without the mouthly subs! Facebook will be another Vonage...You Motley fools are just pimps

February 02 2012 at 7:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to gymbo bogymm's comment

As a % of revenue and profit, Google is far more dependent on advertising.

And before that, tecnologies like television and radio.

Look how terrible that has worked out!

February 02 2012 at 7:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to bggdg's comment

Yeah, Google was as dependent on advertising as Facebook is now----eight years ago!

Since then, Google has engineered their own (enormously successful) OS and has added other income streams besides. Facebook has a LONG way to go to prove it’s viability to me.

February 02 2012 at 8:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down

No, Google is MORE dependent on advertising TODAY than Facebook is TODAY.

Neither Android nor Chrome generate any profit to speak of (although Android in particular helps drive customers to Google search, which generates ADVERTISING revenue)

There's an old saying that "even a blind squirrel finds an acorn sometimes". I guess it doesn't apply to a dumb squirrel.

February 02 2012 at 9:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down

I say good for them' our goverment should take lessons from them to handle the peoples money

February 02 2012 at 7:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to BigBuckFrank's comment

If governemnt took lessons from Facebook, government would quit handling the people's money. Instead, they'd trust citizens to do a far more effective and prudent job of handling their own money than government could ever hope to accomplish.

Or as Adam Smith aptly observed in "The Wealth of Nations":

"It is the highest impertinence and presumption… in kings and ministers, to pretend to watch over the economy of private people, and to restrain their expense... They are themselves always, and without any exception, the greatest spendthrifts in the society. Let them look well after their own expense, and they may safely trust private people with theirs. If their own extravagance does not ruin the state, that of their subjects never will."


"The statesman who should attempt to direct private people in what manner they ought to employ their capitals, would not only load himself with a most unnecessary attention, but assume an authority which could safely be trusted, not only to no single person, but to no council or senate whatever, and which would nowhere be so dangerous as in the hands of a man who had folly and presumption enough to fancy himself fit to exercise it."

February 02 2012 at 8:22 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply