Facebook marked its 12th anniversary two days ago. The plan was to ignore the event since I’m not big on corporate anniversaries and all that stuff that has nothing to do with how I use their services. But 12 is sort of like a number with a label, one dozen years! In that 12 years, Facebook has grown from a Harvard dormitory to the the world’s biggest social forum with over 1.5 billion members and still counting.
If you asked Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, today, about how he almost faced expulsion from the University for stealing students images from the school’s computers, I bet he would look at you with a wry smile and just walk away. Not because he hates being reminded he did something very illegal to get Facebook started, it’s just that the man is tired of repeating that story over the years. He would rather talk about where he sees Facebook in the future.
The ex-hacker is now the fifth wealthiest man on the planet. After financial results showed strong revenue of $12 billion and positive forecasts, the shares of Facebook spiked on the stock exchange, increasing the value of Facebook and making Zuckerberg richer than the owner of Amazon.
And this is a venture of which the biggest investment 12 years ago, was the money he used to buy the domain for the website. $200,000 for a domain name a decade ago was really a huge amount to waste on a website, except you knew something others didn’t know. Obviously he did know something, but not on this scale I am sure.
In just over a decade, Facebook has grown so big it is now comfortably rubbing bank books with the old timers. Going ahead to make some mind-boggling acquisition through the years. Not many people know that since it’s inception, Facebook has made over 50 acquisitions both of small and major firms. The biggest was the $19 billion it paid to buy whatsapp in 2014. Other major acquisitions include
-$2 billion for Occulus VR in March 2014
-$1 billion for Instagram in April 2012
-$100 million for Atlas in February 2013
-$400 million for LiveRail in August 2014
-$85 million for Parse in April 2013
-$100 million for Face.com in June 2012
-$70 million for Snappy in March 2011
These acquisitions, major and minor, sometimes have no rhyme or rythm to them. They are sometimes bought only to be shut down later. Which is the typical behavior of very large and very successful companies.
But Facebook is not only in the business of buying stuff up; it is also active in ground breaking ventures like the Free Basic Internet initiative to provide free Internet to the world’s poor. There is also the Aquila project that aims to use drones to provide cheap Internet to the world’s poorest regions.
12 years later and over 1.5 billion members to tend to, you can understand why a question about an illegality committed over a decade ago is more of an irritant for Mr Zuckerberg. He has a multi-billion dollar firm to oversee and a lot of poor people need him to give them free Internet asap.
Happy 12 years anniversary to Facebook.