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2/3/2014
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Facebook History: 10 Defining Moments

From Facebook's Harvard beginnings to its billion-user mark, we look back at the decisions and milestones that shaped the social network.

6. News Feed launches

During Facebook's first 2.5 years, the social network was merely a customizable profile page. On Sept. 6, 2006, that all changed when Facebook launched its first iteration of the News Feed.

"News Feed highlights what's happening in your social circles on Facebook," Facebook's blog post explained. "It updates a personalized list of news stories throughout the day, so you'll know when Mark adds Britney Spears to his Favorites or when your crush is single again. Now, whenever you log in, you'll get the latest headlines generated by the activity of your friends and social groups."

Facebook also launched Mini-Feed, which detailed a user's actions on the social network, such as adding photos, friends, and notes. While users could remove individual posts on their Mini-Feeds, users complained about the additions because they said it made it too easy to Facebook-stalk.

7. Developers get Facebook Platform  

On May 24, 2007, Facebook announced its Facebook Platform, where third-party developers could create their own applications, services, and games that access data in Facebook. It also introduced Facebook Markup Language, which was used to customize applications.

A number of its most popular applications have been launched using the Platform, including Events, Video, and the once-popular Farmville. In the first nine months of 2012, Farmville's parent company, Zynga, drove 13% of Facebook's revenue.

8. Facebook turns a profit

                                                                                    

Five years after the company launched, Facebook announced it was cash-flow positive for the first time. SEC documents later revealed that the company brought in $777 million in revenue in 2009, nearly triple that of 2008 and significantly higher than what industry analysts had predicted.

Last week, Facebook reported fourth-quarter sales of $2.6 billion, up 63% from the same time last year.

9. Facebook goes public

Facebook held its initial public offering on May 18, 2012 -- one of the biggest in technology, with a peak market capitalization of more than $104 billion. Despite a disappointing first day of trading in which shares were valued only 23 cents above the IPO price, the IPO raised $16 billion, making it the third-largest in US history.

10. Facebook hits 1 billion users

On October 4, 2012, Zuckerberg announced that the company had reached 1 billion active monthly users -- indicating that approximately 1 in 7 people on Earth is on Facebook.

"This morning, there are more than one billion people using Facebook actively each month. If you're reading this: thank you for giving me and my little team the honor of serving you," he wrote. "Helping a billion people connect is amazing, humbling and by far the thing I am most proud of in my life."

Too many companies treat digital and mobile strategies as pet projects. Here are four ideas to shake up your company. Also in the Disruption issue of InformationWeek: Six enduring truths about selecting enterprise software (free registration required).

Kristin Burnham currently serves as InformationWeek.com's Senior Editor, covering social media, social business, IT leadership and IT careers. Prior to joining InformationWeek in July 2013, she served in a number of roles at CIO magazine and CIO.com, most recently as senior ... View Full Bio

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Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
2/24/2014 | 9:07:59 AM
Re: Facebook History: 10 Defining Moments
Absolutely. Facebook's privacy wave has been an interesting one to ride. No matter their mistakes -- how big or how small -- users keep coming back. That says something about the service it's providing.
SachinEE
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SachinEE,
User Rank: Ninja
2/22/2014 | 6:22:18 AM
Re: Facebook History: 10 Defining Moments
@ Kristin Burnham, it answers the question raised by @ David F. Carr. During the establishment of big companies like Facebook, errors and challenges are numerous. Facebook had a public face because of its dealing with users directly, so all these errors became more obvious. We must say that in spite of ever growing concerns of people regarding privacy and other issues, Facebook has defied them one way or the other.
SachinEE
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SachinEE,
User Rank: Ninja
2/21/2014 | 6:22:27 AM
Re : Facebook History: 10 Defining Moments
@ Ariella, there can hardly be any doubt about it. If Facebook were to become a "Social Network" in true sense of the word, it had to go public and open its membership to everyone. But that was a big step nevertheless because it was a huge shift and needed tremendous amount of resources.
Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
2/4/2014 | 8:57:04 AM
Re: No crisis moments?
Resilience: absolutely. Facebook's Andrew Bosworth touched on this in a post this morning reflecting on Facebook's last 10 years:

"When I joined Facebook we were a bunch of clever but irreverent kids (and one irreverent Jeff Rothschild). We were deeply skeptical of accepted wisdom, perhaps because the wisdom at the time did not look favorably upon our chances of succeeding. Instead we took unconventional approaches to everything from what we built and how we built it to how we financed and operated the company. More often than not we would stumble and frequently we would learn why accepted wisdom was exactly that. But occasionally our naive confidence that we could forge our own path paid off and unlocked something that was completely ours."
cbabcock
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cbabcock,
User Rank: Strategist
2/3/2014 | 11:32:52 PM
Open Compute is Facebook's defining moment of using the social net
Facebook didn't buy servers or run a data center like other companies. It built the first unit of what it thought was an ultra-modern data center in Prineville, Ore., it's first and realized it wanted major revisions for the servers going into the second of three massive centers scheduled to be built on the site. There would be strength in numbers, if Facebook could get other people interested in what constituted an efficient data center in the cloud. Plus competitors Google, Apple and Amazon were all eyeing the Facebook user base hungrily. None of them was willing to share its designs with anyone else. Realizing it was in a position to pioneer modern cloud data center design, it launched the Open Compute Project in April 2011. It's attracted Goldman Sachs, Fidelity investments and other financial services firms. It holds the long term potential of disrupting the way hardware supply is done. It was Facebook's own defining use of the social network.
David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
2/3/2014 | 4:33:40 PM
Re: No crisis moments?
Ah, too many errors to count. That makes sense.

And yet you could say recovering from all those missteps shows resilience, which might be one of Facebook's most defining characteristics.
Gary_EL
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Gary_EL,
User Rank: Ninja
2/3/2014 | 2:06:58 PM
Re: What's next?
That it will become less popular with the youngsters, and they will go elsewhere. Which is no problem for me, but it might be a problem for parents, who might not be able to monitor the online doings of their kids as easily as they can with Facebook.
WKash
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WKash,
User Rank: Author
2/3/2014 | 2:05:49 PM
Next generation
It's interesting to hear how many teenagers I speak with who've moved on from Facebook...and what that portends as Facebook moves into its own adolescence.
Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
2/3/2014 | 12:12:01 PM
Re: No crisis moments?
@David, you can find the item about News Feed on page 2.

I considered adding items related to Facebook privacy missteps, such as the Facebook Beacon and Sponsored Stories lawsuits, but their errors in that category are many. It's hard to pick out one or two that were "defining moments," especially since it's something the company still struggles with today. You'll find a few of those missteps in a story posting tomorrow, so stay tuned for that.

 
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
2/3/2014 | 11:04:43 AM
Re: No crisis moments?
Interesting that the News Feed is still not loved, years after its introduction. The algorithm still doesn't give some people what they want. Readers, look for follow-up coverage on this topic tomorrow, including a look at stumbles.
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