Facebook seeking to raise $5 billion at IPO, provides data on revenues, users

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Facebook 's Initial Public Offering registration outlines that the company earned $3.7 billion in revenues last year and made $1 billion in profits. The company hopes its IPO will raise $5 billion.

As a privately held company, Facebook hasn't previously had to report its figures. Now that it has filed for an IPO, it's public knowledge that the company's revenues grew by 88 percent last year while its profits were up 65 percent over 2010.

The filings note that Zynga games' virtual currency and advertising made up 12 percent of Facebook's revenue and warned, "if the use of Zynga games on our Platform declines, if Zynga launches games on or migrates games to competing platforms, or if we fail to maintain good relations with Zynga, we may lose Zynga as a significant Platform developer and our financial results may be adversely affected."

The company's net profit margins are 27 percent, just ahead of Google, which reported 26 percent net profits.

Zuckerberg claims "Facebook exists to make the world more open and connected, not just to build a company"

Facebook's founder Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a letter accompanying the filing that "Facebook was not originally created to be a company. It was built to accomplish a social mission — to make the world more open and connected.

"We think it’s important that everyone who invests in Facebook understands what this mission means to us, how we make decisions and why we do the things we do. I will try to outline our approach in this letter."

Zuckerberg continued, "At Facebook, we build tools to help people connect with the people they want and share what they want, and by doing this we are extending people’s capacity to build and maintain relationships.

"People sharing more — even if just with their close friends or families — creates a more open culture and leads to a better understanding of the lives and perspectives of others. We believe that this creates a greater number of stronger relationships between people, and that it helps people get exposed to a greater number of diverse perspectives."

Failing to be "open and connected" with Apple in order to build a business

At the same time, Facebook clearly intends to maintain control over how it forms connections and embellishes the culture in a profitable way. The company notoriously fought with Apple over its attempts to include Facebook connections in its iTunes Ping service, and was later reported to have blocked Apple's initial efforts to integrate Facebook into iOS 5 in a manner similar to the Twitter integration Apple did deliver for both Ping and iOS 5.

Jobs described Facebook as demanding "onerous terms that we could not agree to" before the social network pulled out of its partnership with Apple on Ping, although it was later reported that Jobs later met with Zuckerberg in an informal setting to discuss the matter further just prior to Jobs' passing away.

Last summer, Facebook also developed an iPad app that it then refused to officially release, resulting in its lead developer, Jeff Verkoeyen, leaving the social network out of frustration. When the code did leak as part of the iPhone app, Facebook blocked access to it from its servers.

Several reports suggested that the company held the iPad app as leverage in negotiations with Apple, indicating that the company threatened to throw its efforts behind a web app version instead. In parallel, Facebook also worked with HP to release a native, integrated app for the firm's failed webOS tablet.

Facebook eventually released its iPad app shortly after Jobs passed away. The company released the app without support for "Credits," a virtual currency that violates Apple's policies for App Store titles.

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Nearly 850 million users

Facebook's filings also revealed that in December it had 845 million active users within the month and 483 million active users on a daily basis. Daily active users are up 48 percent over a year ago.

The company notes that these numbers "are reasonable estimates, and we take measures to improve their accuracy, such as eliminating known fictitious or duplicate accounts. There are inherent challenges in measuring usage across large online and mobile populations around the world. For example, there may be individuals who have multiple Facebook accounts in violation of our terms of service, despite our efforts to detect and suppress such behavior. As another example, applications on certain mobile devices may automatically contact our servers for regular updates with no user action involved, and this activity may cause our system to count the user associated with such a device as an active user of Facebook."

The company also recounted servicing 100 billion "friend" connections between users, 2.7 billion "likes" and comments per day and a quarter billion photo uploads per day in the winter quarter.


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