By now almost everyone who uses a computer regularly knows about the famous social network Facebook, which has conquered the world. Given that it has only really started since 2004 it has had a massive and quick growth spurt, especially in the last two years. Let's see where it all came from.
How it all started
A student in his sophomore year at Harvard University, Mark Zuckerberg, came up with the idea in 2004 of what he then called thefacebook.com. It was created as a way to keep in touch with other Harvard students over the Internet. It was based on a publication through which students were able to get to know each other better, called the face book.
Expansion of the site
It soon became so popular that it was also used at other universities like Stanford, Columbia and Yale, then was quickly opened to all Ivy League and later mostly all universities in the USA and Canada joined. In 2005 the company launched a high school version and finally in 2006 Facebook opened to the public: anyone above thirteen years of age with a valid email address was able to use it.
Over time Facebook has changed its way of displaying the news, which can be annoying at times when you have just gotten used to a version and it is already been updated. Over the years they have also added various features and have allowed users to personalize their privacy settings more and more. Nowadays you can add photos, videos, notes, send instant messages, private messages, post on people's walls or even import your blog.
Investments and financials
Already in 2004 they received their first investment of $500,000 from PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel in exchange of 7% of the company. The following year even though they already had venture capitalists putting in big sums they still ran at a net loss.
Various companies offered to buy Facebook, which Mark refused, saying that he preferred the network to remain independent. This didn't stop him allowing more and more investors to pour money into the company in exchange for a small percentage of ownership.
Finally in 2009 Facebook turned cash flow positive for the first time.
Facebook makes its money through advertising, which you can see in the side banners on the right side. These ads are personalized to fit in with the profile of the person looking at the page. These ads also enable them to offer their services for free to the users.
The future of social networking
In the end, users will be able to decide which social network and which features they like and use the most, which will inevitably affect the future of Facebook as well as all other social networks. This means that the history of Facebook does not stop here.
In October 2010 a film called 'The Social Network' has been released, which tells the story of Mark Zuckerberg's invention.