Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Technology Venture: FACEBOOK

Company Summary and History
Facebook is an online social engagement platform that allows individuals manage social relationships and meet new people. It was set up in February 2004 by four Harvard Students originally under the name “thefacebook” as a network for Harvard Students. It quickly grew popular and grew to include support for photos and other colleges and high schools. By 2006, it was made open to anybody with an email address. Facebook ranks as the second most trafficked website in the world as of November 2010 with more than half a billion registered users and over 40 billion views per month.

Key People
Mark Zuckerberg: CEO and Co-Founder of Facebook, as well as a member of the board of directors. Mark dropped out of computer science in Harvard University. He has developed several programs including Synapse, a music recommendation application, for Intelligent Media Group and Wirehog, a file sharing program. Mark was also selected as Time's Person of the Year 2010.

Dustin Moskovitz: Dustin Studied Economics for two years at Harvard, but left to work on Facebook. He was the technical staff leader and oversaw mobile strategy and development. He left Facebook in October 2008 and went on to Co-Found Asana, a collaboration platform for companies, together with Justin Rosenstien, a former Engineering Manager at Google and ex-employee of Facebook.

Chris Hughes: Chris holds a B.A. in History and Literature from Harvard University. He was Spokesman and Co-Founder of Facebook. Chris developed and co-ordinated president Obama's media campaign and website. In 2010 he founded Jumo with aims to "help people find ways to help the world", which was later requested by the United Nations.

Eduardo Saverin: Eduardo holds a B.A. in Economics from Harvard University, where he served as the President for their Investment Association. He Co-Founded Facebook and acted briefly as its CFO and business manager. A legal battle ensued when Eduardo's 34% of thefacebook was significantly diluted. He is currently not involved with the management of Facebook but is legally recognised as a co-founder.

Start-up Capital Raised
In September 2004 Facebook got seed funding of 500 thousand USD from Reid Hoffman and Peter Thiel, Co-Founder of Paypal and currently Managing Partner of The Founders Fund. In May 2005 Facebook received 12.7 million USD as series A funding from Accel Partners. The series C round was funded by Greylock Partners, Meritech Capital Partners, Accel Partners and The Founders Fund worth 27.5 million USD. The series C round of funding span across two years; 240 million USD from Microsoft in October of 2007, 60 million USD the next month from Li Ka-shing, the European Founders Fund with 15 million USD in January of 2008 and two months later Li Ka-shing invests again with another 60 million USD. In May 2008 Facebook borrowed 100 million USD from TriplePoint Capital to purchase more servers. A series D funding of 200 million USD came to Facebook in May of 2009 from Digital Sky Technologies. The last funding Facebook received was a 120 million USD from Elevation Partners in June 2010.

Investors Exit Strategy
Mark Zuckerberg famously turned down a buy-out offer of 1 billion USD from Yahoo in 2006. Other less notable attempts have been made by several companies, including Friendster back in 2005 before Series A funding, to acquire Facebook. An IPO has been the subject of much speculation. Company valuations based on current earnings and privately exchanged shares on the secondary market suggest Facebook could be worth anywhere between 15 billion and 45 billion USD if it were to IPO today.

Growth and Acquisition Strategy
Facebook ranks number 2 on the global list of most trafficked websites and generated over 800 million USD in annual revenue last year. Facebook have also started a joint venture seed fund, fbFund, with The Founders Fund and Accel Partners, to invest in startups. Facebook, on the other hand, has made a lot of direct acquisitions including Parakey in July 2007, FriendFeed in August 2009 for 47.5 million USD, Octazen Solutions in February 2010, DivvyShot in April 2010, SharGrove in May 2010 and Nextstop in September 2010 for 2.5 million USD. CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently said at a Web 2.0 Summit that Facebook is not trying to do all things but is focused on making its core platform the main framework upon which entrepreneurs can build other verticals. Facebook generates most of its revenue from advertisements, as well as applications that allow users to buy virtual goods.

Facebook are currently developing products to grow and sustain their user base such as Facebook Zero, a light version of the mobile portal for Facebook, Open Graph, and Facebook Connect that allows users to share their Facebook information with other websites. The new "social" paradigm has Facebook at its core and this places the company in the best possible position to take advantage of the next generation of internet-based enterprises.


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