Facebook Files for IPO; Reveals $1 Billion in 2011 Profit

Advertising Is 83% of Facebook's Revenue

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Facebook lifted the veil on its financials in its filing today with the Securities and Exchange Commission, revealing $1 billion in 2011 profits and robust growing revenue streams that are becoming gradually less reliant on advertising as the company grows its "Payments" business.

Mark Zuckerberg
Mark Zuckerberg

In its filing, Facebook reported 2011 revenue of $3.71 billion, an 88% increase from the $1.97 billion total reported for 2010, though falling short of eMarketer's 2011 projection of $4.27 billion. The increase was mostly attributed to the 69% growth of advertising revenue, which was buoyed by a 42% increase in the number of ads delivered and an 18% increase in their average price.

While advertising made up $3.15 billion of Facebook's revenues last year, the company earned $557 million from Facebook Payments -- the virtual currency it began requiring game developers on the platform to use as of July 1 -- and other fees. Payments are making up an increasingly hefty chunk of Facebook's revenue, and in the fourth quarter of 2011, advertising constituted just 83% of revenues, down from 90% the previous year. Facebook takes a cut of all money exchanged through the use of "Payments," and in the case of virtual goods purchased on Zynga, that cut is up to 30%.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who founded the company in a Harvard dorm room in 2004, owns 28.1% of the company worth $28 billion, assuming a likely valuation of $100 million when the stock is issued. In a letter to shareholders, Mr. Zuckerberg mentions advertising just once, but spells out his users-first philosophy. "We don't build services to make money; we make money to build better services," he said. "These days I think more and more people want to use services from companies that believe in something beyond simply maximizing profits."

One recurring doubt that surfaces about Facebook's revenue prospects is that the service brands are most keen on dedicating resources to is free: the maintenance of their fan pages. But as Facebook fan pages become a more integral part of media strategies, the dollars to prop them up will flow more freely, according to Bryan Wiener, CEO of 360i.

"As the integration between earned and paid media becomes tighter, brands are going to need to advertise more with Facebook to spark conversations and draw attention to the increasingly interesting experiences they're creating [within Facebook]," Mr. Wiener said.

Facebook by the numbers:

  • Facebook's total ad revenue in 2011: $3.15 billion
  • Share of revenue attributed to advertising: 83%
  • Share of revenue that was advertising at the beginning of 2010: 99%
  • Percentage of sales in the U.S.: 56%
  • Amount of revenue sourced from Zynga: 12%
  • Amount Netflix spent advertising on Facebook in 2011: $3.9 million
  • Amount The Washington Post spent: $4.2 million
  • Facebook 2011 profit: $1 billion
  • Revenue generated from virtual goods: $557 million
  • Global monthly active users: 845 million
  • Daily likes and comments: 2.7 billion
  • Amount Facebook spent on advertising in 2011: $28 million
  • Age of oldest Facebook senior exec: 44
  • Likely Facebook market valuation: $75 to $100 billion
  • COO Sheryl Sandberg's 2011 compensation: $31 million
  • Ms. Sandberg's ownership share in Facebook: 1%
  • CEO Mark Zuckerberg's total 2011 compensation: $1.5 million
  • Mr. Zuckerberg's ownership stake: 28.2%
  • Mr. Zuckerberg's voting power: 56.9%
  • Mr. Zuckerberg's annual salary starting in 2013: $1
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