FACEBOOK now has more than 900m members worldwide, as calculations reveal that Mark Zuckerberg’s social network values itself at $77billion (£476bn).
Despite the strong user growth, the eight-year-old company posted a fall in revenue and profits in the first quarter of 2012. Ahead of a planned initial public offering (IPO) later in the year, Facebook has spent some $500m buying up patents previously owned by AOL from Microsoft.
Facebook, founded in 2004 in Zuckerberg’s college dorm room, now has 901m global users, up from 680m in the first quarter of last year.
The social network is expected to continue this growth and pass 1bn members by the end of 2012, particularly if it can work out a way to enter the massive yet state-monitored Chinese internet market.
In the first quarter of 2012, Facebook posted revenue of $1.06 billion, up from $731million the same quarter last year, but actually down from $1.131billion during Q4 2011.
Profits were also down, at $205m in the first quarter from $233m in Q1 2011 and $302m in Q4 last year. It is thought that ‘seasonality’ is a factor in the decline, along with an increase in marketing, sales and R&D costs.
Using figures for Facebook’s recent $1bn purchase of photo-sharing app Instagram, Forbes believes the company values itself at just under $77bn.
Yesterday, Facebook provided specifics on the Instagram deal, revealing that it was for $300m in cash and “approximately 23m shares” of common stock.
At a $1bn deal valuation, the stock would be worth $700m, or $30.43 per share, valuing Facebook at £75bn.
But sources told Forbes that the actual share price for Instagram was $30.89 per share, which brings the valuation up to between $76 billion and $77 billion.
In a separate matter, Facebook this month also agreed to pay Microsoft Corp. for rights to acquire 650 patents and patent applications that Microsoft this month agreed to buy from AOL Inc. for just over a $1 billion. As part of the deal, Facebook is getting a license to the other AOL patents and patent applications being purchased by Microsoft, and will grant Microsoft a license to the AOL patents and patent applications it is acquiring. –Agencies