Facebook now reaches 300 million users – and makes money
After five years and more than $700m of investment, Facebook is now ‘cashflow positive’ thanks to its 300m users worldwide.
Cynics have long dismissed social networking as a fad – but the appetite for connecting online appears to be growing more rapidly than ever, after Facebook announced today that it now has more than 300 million users worldwide.
The announcement, made by the company’s 25-year-old co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, underlines Facebook’s reputation as one of the largest properties on the internet with an audience that could encompass almost every man, woman and child in the United States.
The number is almost as large as the entire internet population of China, and equivalent to the number of web users in Europe’s ten largest countries combined.
It also marks the latest chapter in an astonishing period of growth for the company. The site reached the 250m user milestone in July, meaning that it has added an additional 50 million people in just two months.
Zuckerberg indicated that he had plans to continue expansion in the future, and suggested that reaching such a large group of people was just the beginning.
“It’s a large number, but the way we think about this is that we’re just getting started on our goal of connecting everyone,” he wrote on Facebook’s blog.
Although Facebook is still growing in countries like the US and Britain – particularly as older users get bitten by the social networking bug – it is also expanding quickly in other parts of the world.
The news comes just a few days after the site formally rolled out Facebook Lite - a stripped-down version of the site intended for users with slower internet connections that it hopes will stimulate growth in countries like India and Brazil.
More importantly to those wondering about the company’s plans for the future, however, was the news that Facebook was now cashflow positive – which means it is finally making money after five and a half years and an estimated $716m of investment.
“Earlier this year we said we expected to be cash flow positive sometime in 2010, and I’m pleased to share that we achieved this milestone last quarter,” said Zuckerberg. “This is important to us because it sets Facebook up to be a strong independent service for the long term.”
The news prompted speculation that the company could prepare for a stock market launch as early as next year – a rumour that senior executives have tried to squash in the past.