The History of Facebook: From the Dingy Dorm to World Domination

It’s hard to imagine a time when Facebook didn’t exist. The world’s largest social network is a daily fixture in the lives of so many people on this planet, and for good reason too. After all, Facebook has forever changed the way we interact online and it singlehandedly ushered in the social media revolution.

facebook-history

So how did it all start? The answer to that is the year 2004.

2004 – thefacebook.com

In February 2004, a much younger Mark Zuckerberg launched thefacebook.com with co-founders Dustin Moskovitz, Chris Hughes, and Eduardo Saverin from his Harvard dorm room. The platform originally required a .edu address and was designed to allow students to communicate on a unified platform.

Amazingly, by the time it was officially launched, it was already boasting an impressive 1 million users.

2005 – New Features and a Name Change

By 2005, thefacebook.com officially became the Facebook we know today. The team behind the world’s largest social network purchased facebook.com.

Other important changes to the platform included the introduction of international school networks and the launch of Facebook Photos.

By this point, Facebook had reached an incredible 6 million monthly active users (MAUs).

2006 – Open Registration and the News Feed

The brains behind Facebook quickly realized that they had created a revolutionary platform that had the potential to change the way we communicated.

With that in mind, 2006 brought about the launch of Facebook for mobile, the news feed, and the company decided to expand registration in order to bring in a slew of new users.
At the end of the year, Facebook had around 12 million MAUs.

2007 – The Beginning of Monetization

With such a massive platform, Facebook had to find a way to make money from it. By collecting the data of their users, Facebook officially launched their self-service ad platform and the beginning of Facebook pages.

The addition of Facebook pages laid the foundation for the massive advertising juggernaut that they have become today. Around this time, they took in around $150 million in revenue, instantly validating their model.

As for MAUs, 2007 saw them increase exponentially to 58 million.

2008 – Facebook Chat

It was inevitable that Facebook would find a way to allow its users to chat more actively. Previously, users communicated by posting on other user’s walls.

With Facebook Chat, users were now able to communicate in real-time and this early feature would eventually become Facebook Messenger, the most popular messaging application in the world today.

This year also saw Facebook officially launch on the iPhone, arguably the most popular phone in the world at the time.

Facebook boasted 145 million MAUs at the end of 2008.

2009 to 2010 – Likes, Privacy Concerns, Users

2009 was a special year in the sense that it added the infamous “like” button. This feature is still a staple of Facebook today and is arguably one of the most recognizable things about the platform.

In 2010, Facebook also learned a harsh lesson about privacy concerns. It was no secret that the network was collecting a lot of information about its users, but it was in 2010 that users learned how damaging this data could be and how much Facebook had collected on them.
Despite these privacy concerns, Facebook reached an incredible 500 million users and the company reported an unheard of 608 million MAUs in 2010.

2011 to 2012 – Facebook Goes Public

With such impressive growth and revenues, it was only a matter of time until Facebook went public. In 2011, Goldman Sachs led a $1.5 billion funding round, valuing the company at $50 billion.

With money in the bank, Facebook officially announced its IPO in 2012.

By the end of the year, the company had over 1 billion MAUs.

2013 to Today – Consolidation and Unprecedented Growth

Unlike its predecessor Myspace, Facebook management understood how its platform worked and how to get the most out of it.

Since 2013, Facebook has added several new features, greatly expanded its self-service advertising platform, and it has made strategic purchases of its competition.

Take for example its decision to purchase Instagram and WhatsApp in 2014. These two acquisitions allowed it to integrate the most popular photo sharing and messaging apps. While WhatsApp has declined in popularity somewhat, the intellectual property and features Facebook acquired in the deal allowed them to improve Facebook Messenger in huge ways. As for Instagram, the popularity of that platform speaks for itself as it continues to grow and prove its worth in the competitive world of online advertising.

The Future

Today, Facebook’s valuation is $434 billion and it clearly has come a long way since its original $50 billion valuation.

It is safe to say that the company will continue to grow as it has some of the best management in the social media business. There are still many underdeveloped countries that haven’t fully realized the Facebook revolution and it is only a matter of time until this happens.

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