Facebook is the world’s largest social network, with over 1.15 billion monthly active users.
Facebook was founded by Mark Zuckerberg in February 2004, initially as an exclusive network for Harvard students. It was a huge hit: in 2 weeks, half of the schools in the Boston area began demanding a Facebook network. Zuckerberg immediately recruited his friends Dustin Moskovitz, Chris Hughes, and Eduardo Saverin to help build Facebook, and within four months, Facebook added 30 more college networks.
The original idea for the term Facebook came from Zuckerberg’s high school (Phillips Exeter Academy). The Exeter Face Book was passed around to every student as a way for students to get to know their classmates for the following year. It was a physical paper book until Zuckerberg brought it to the internet.
With millions more users, Friendster attempted to acquire the company for $10 million in mid 2004. Facebook turned down the offer and subsequently received $12.7 million in funding from Accel Partners, at a valuation of around $100 million. Facebook continued to grow, opening up to high school students in September 2005 and adding an immensely popular photo sharing feature the next month. The next spring, Facebook received $25 million in funding from Greylock Partners and Meritech Capital, as well as previous investors Accel Partners and Peter Thiel. The pre-money valuation for this deal was about $525 million. Facebook subsequently opened up to work networks, eventually amassing over 20,000 work networks. Finally in September 2006, Facebook opened to anyone with an email address.
Facebook continued to receive funding, most notably in January 2011 receiving a $1.5 billion round, valuing the company at $50 billion. A year later, in February 2012, Facebook announced that it was filing for its long-anticipated initial public offering. The company went public on May 18, 2012, opening on the NASDAQ with shares trading at $42.05.
In its 2012 IPO filing, Facebook announced that it intends to grow in the near future by expanding its global user base, increasing engagement by developing new social tools, improving the mobile experience, and creating more value for advertisers and users.