It's official: Facebook, the world's most famous internet company, is about to go public. In a move expected to net the social networking giant a cool $5 billion, Facebook shares will be available for purchase this May under the ticker symbol FB.
It's a little surprising that Facebook is "only" raising $5 billion — previous suggestions put the figure as high as $10 billion. Nevertheless, that will still make Facebook's IPO the largest in internet history; significantly bigger than Google's. And while Facebook is raising $5 billion, the company itself could be worth as much as $100 billion.
But while those facts may be surprising, they're hardly the most surprising aspects of the Facebook IPO. Because Facebook had to file a prospectus with the Securities and Exchange Commission — essentially, a public advertisement explaining why you should buy Facebook stock — we've learned a heck of a lot about America's newest public company over the past few hours:
1. People are very friendly with each other
Facebook is bringing the world closer together. That's not just marketing mumbo jumbo, it's a cold hard fact: Since the company's 2004 launch, a total of 100 billion friendships have been established. That's just over 14 friends for every man, woman, and child alive on Earth. (No word yet on how many of them are fewer than six degrees of separation from Footloose star Kevin Bacon.)
2. One out of every eight people in the world use Facebook monthly
In the prospectus filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, it was revealed that Facebook averaged 845 million active users for the month of December 2011. That means that one out of every eight people in the world are actively posting on Facebook. And well over half of those people — 485 million — are so hooked on social networking that they use Facebook every day.
3. If your parents aren't on Facebook yet, they probably will be soon
If you thought Facebook was done growing as a social networking platform, you'd be dead wrong. On December 31, 2009, Facebook had 185 million active daily users. One year later, that number was up to 317 million — an increase of 71%. Active users swelled another 51% in 2011. Certainly, the social media giant can't keep up that pace forever. After all, if it did, every single human being in the world would be an active daily user on the site before the end of the decade.
4. Virtual farms are serious business
Farmville and Frontierville aren't just fun and games — they're Facebook cash cows. Their maker, Zynga, was responsible for 12% ($445 million) of Facebook's revenue in 2011. And the percentage of revenue Facebook gets from Zynga — mostly in the form of the 30% cut Facebook gets from all in-game transactions — is slowly growing. The relationship is so important to the future of Facebook that the company included a statement in its SEC filing saying its fortunes are inexorably tied with that of the social gaming kingpin. Facebook's contract with Zynga expires in 2015.
5. If there's one thing people like, it's hitting their Like button
Think having someone post 1,000,000 replies to a single comment is impressive? You might need to think again — a total of 2.7 billion likes and comments are posted to Facebook each and every day. That's 31,250 likes and comments each and every second.
6. Existing Facebook employees are about to get the deal of the century
We don't know yet what the price of a single share of Facebook will be yet — after all, that's for the free market to decide. But Forbes is already estimating that a share of Facebook could easily head north of $100 per share. That'd be good news for Facebook investors and employees who will be exercising stock options to buy 138 million shares of stock. Their price? An average of $0.83 per share. That's a tidy 12,000% return on their investment in mere seconds.
7. More people use their phones than their computers to check in to Facebook
It appears that the Facebook app is becoming an absolute juggernaut. Of the 845 million people who checked in to Facebook last month, 425 million — just over half — did so with their mobile phones. This presents itself as a major future revenue stream for the company — advertisements are absolutely prolific on the main internet site, but largely absent from the mobile version. That could soon change.
8. The value of your Facebook profile: $4.39
According to the Facebook IPO filing, the company raked in a massive $3.71 billion in revenue last year. When you consider that Facebook now has 845 million active monthly users, that means your presence on the social networking site was worth approximately $4.39 to the company. Just don't expect them to write you a check for that amount any time soon.
9. The Facebook IPO crashed the SEC website
Without a doubt, excitement over the Facebook IPO is running high. But is it really so exciting that even the federal government can't handle it? That appears to be the case: Enough people tried to view Facebook's SEC filing that they crashed the regulatory agency's website. Perhaps the SEC would like to talk about renting some extra server space at Facebook's new Oregon facility?