From Dorm to Dominance: Growing Pains as Facebook Turns 15

Facebook, trudging through its awkward teenage years, is turning 15 on Monday.


Launched in 2004 as “TheFacebook,” the service was originally intended only for Harvard students. It’s now a massive global business that connects some 2.3 billion users. It was born in an era of desktop computers, years before the iPhone, and ran no ads.


At the time it was impossible to imagine that someday countries like Russia and Iran would try to use it for sophisticated information operations in order to influence elections around the world.

In 2004, CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s biggest problem may have been almost getting kicked out of Harvard. Zuckerberg’s 2019 worries include the threat of government regulation of the empire he has built and the gnawing possibility that despite its stated lofty goals around connecting people and building community, Facebook may not be good for the world.


Today, it’s hard to take a subway in New York or a tram in Budapest, Hungary without overhearing the word “Facebook” or “Instagram” in conversation or seeing their apps open on passenger phones. The social network has transformed the world, for better and for worse, and its effect will be debated for years.


Here are some numbers that give an idea of Facebook’s past, present and future:

Number of monthly users as of Dec. 31, 2018: 2.32 billion
Number of daily users as of this date: 1.5 billion
Number of people in the world with internet access: 3.9 billion
Year Facebook reached 1 billion users: 2012
Number of users affected by the Cambridge Analytica data-mining scandal: up to 87 million
2018 revenue: $55 billion
2018 profit: $22 billion
Number of employees in 2018: 35,587
Number of employees in 2004: About 7
Year the iPhone launched: 2007
Year Facebook launched its iPhone app: 2008
Year Facebook bought Instagram: 2012
Money it paid to buy it: $1 billion
Money it paid to buy WhatsApp a year later: $19 billion
Amount Facebook spent lobbying the U.S. government in 2018: $12.6 million
Amount it spent lobbying the U.S. government in 2010: $259,507
Initial public offering stock price on May 18, 2012: $38
Lowest stock price, reached on Sept. 4, 2012: $17.55
Highest stock price, reached on July 25, 2018: $218.62
Market value Facebook lost the next day , a stock market record: $119 billion
Kuwait's GDP: $120 billion
Mark Zuckerberg's net worth as of Friday: $62.4 billion
Date he said the idea that fake news on Facebook influenced elections was "pretty crazy": Nov. 10, 2016
Date he wrote on Facebook he regrets saying that: Sept. 27, 2017
Number of hours Zuckerberg testified before Congress in April 2018 on election interference, privacy and other issues: 10
Number of followers he has on Facebook: 119 million
Number of kids he has: 2 

Sources: Facebook, International Telecommunications Union, Forbes, FactSet, lobbying disclosure forms

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