Well, it is finally here: Facebook’s IPO filing was just made public, and the monster document details information about the social network’s value, revenue, and its No. 1 competition—Google.
The filing brims with particulars that private companies do not need to share, but public companies do, and there are even scattered bits of related data points (like market position risks, financial conditions required for success, and threatening rivals). In this case, Facebook made it well-known that Google is its main foe.
Let’s get a few of the nitty gritty details out of the way before mentioning the Menlo Park, Calif.-based Company’s opponent woes. Facebook filed S-1 papers this afternoon to raise at least $5 billion with plans to start selling stock this spring…
The initial public offering paperwork declared Facebook netted $3.7 billion in revenue for 2011, and 87 percent of the moneys came from advertisements, 12 percent from gaming developer Zynga, and 1 percent from other sources. The company also flaunted 845 million monthly active users, which is more than double from a year prior, and announced approximately 483 million users log on to the website each day.
Facebook CEO and cofounder Mark Zuckerberg has long dragged his feet in reluctance regarding an IPO, and instead of going public a year ago, Facebook chose a private offering of $1.5 billion that valued the company at $50 billion. With that said, today’s filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission comes at a time when Facebook’s competition is at its peak, and when many are questioning the worth of other Internet-based companies. Zynga, for example, despite earning $445 million of Facebook’s revenue, failed to meet expectations recently in terms of stock activities.
So, anyway, on to Google’s aspect of the filing. Facebook took considerable amount of time to describe its market rivalries, and during the outlining of such adversaries, Google’s name appeared nearly a dozen times:
We face significant competition in almost every aspect of our business, including from companies such as Google, Microsoft, and Twitter, which offer a variety of Internet products, services, content, and online advertising offerings, as well as from mobile companies and smaller Internet companies that offer products and services that may compete with specific Facebook features. We also face competition from traditional and online media businesses for a share of advertisers’ budgets and in the development of the tools and systems for managing and optimizing advertising campaigns. We compete broadly with Google’s social networking offerings, including Google+, which it has integrated with certain of its products, including search and Android. In addition, we compete with other, largely regional, social networks that have strong positions in particular countries, including Cyworld in Korea, Mixi in Japan, Orkut (owned by Google) in Brazil and India, and vKontakte in Russia. As we introduce new products, as our existing products evolve, or as other companies introduce new products and services, we may become subject to additional competition.
Facebook further illustrated that Google and other challengers have more resources and advantageous stances in specific markets that enable them to be more successful in arising technologies and transformations in market requirements.
The filing elaborated on Facebook’s quandary:
Our competitors may develop products, features, or services that are similar to ours or that achieve greater market acceptance, may undertake more far-reaching and successful product development efforts or marketing campaigns, or may adopt more aggressive pricing policies. In addition, Platform partners may use information shared by our users through the Facebook Platform in order to develop products or features that compete with us. Certain competitors, including Google, could use strong or dominant positions in one or more markets to gain competitive advantage against us in areas where we operate including: by integrating competing social networking platforms or features into products they control such as search engines, web browsers, or mobile device operating systems; by making acquisitions; or by making access to Facebook more difficult. As a result, our competitors may acquire and engage users at the expense of the growth or engagement of our user base, which may negatively affect our business and financial results.
Facebook also outlined which areas it directly contends with Google, and those components involve “users and engagements,” “advertising,” “platform,” and “talent.” The company even listed factors necessary to vie with Google, while noting the elements extend within and beyond the social network’s control. The ingredients encompass size and competition of user base, timing and market acceptance of products, changes made in legislation, reputation and brand strength, marketing efforts, customer service quality, ability to monetize products, and the usefulness of products.
Aside from declaring Google as a top enemy, Facebook also designated the Cupertino, Calif.-based search engine as a peer in terms of market compensation data. Facebook apparently refers to a peer group when naming executive officers and establishing a criteria and benchmark executive compensation.
“We plan to use the following companies in our peer group for the 2012 executive compensation process: Amazon.com; Apple; Cisco Systems; eBay; Google; LinkedIn; Microsoft; Netflix; Oracle; salesforce.com; VMware; Yahoo!; and Zynga,” the filing stated.
The social network said it chose the companies in the peer group because they were each involved in high technology or media, were deemed a key talent competitor, had a minimum $4 billion revenue, and a minimum $50 billion market capitalization.
It is worth noting that “Google+ unofficial statistician” Paul Allen, who founded Ancestry.com, released updated numbers on Google+ today. He said the search engine’s emerging social network grew more than 10 percent since last month’s estimates published by Google CEO Larry Page. Allen further approximated a new 100.8 million user total, which means Google+ is adding over 750,000 new users every day and could hit 345 million users by the end of 2012. It took Facebook over four years to reach the 100 million user milestone.
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