It's been a good couple years for Facebook, which has experienced major gains in membership – the site now has more than 400 million members – and in traffic. Many pundits predicted it would take Facebook a bit more time before it really began to cash in on that popularity.
But according to a new report, Facebook raked in $800 million in revenue in 2009, a number that well exceeds previous estimates.
On Friday, The New York Daily News quoted two anonymous sources at Facebook, both of whom said that "explosive" advertising growth had fueled 2009 revenue. The sources also said that Facebook was earning "a solid net profit, in the tens of millions of dollars last year."
If accurate, the figures would bode well for Facebook, which recently expanded its presence across the Web, much to the chagrin of some users.
Facebook's "open graph" platform, which allows users to comment on and share information from a range of websites – often without ever signing onto Facebook – has been lambasted by privacy groups in the US and abroad. In late May, Facebook drastically simplified its security settings, making it easier for users to control how much content is visible to the public. (Some critics still say Facebook hasn't done enough.)
Meanwhile, Facebook traffic is soaring. In June, Google announced that Facebook was the most popular site in the US. (Google didn't include itself on the list, but its traffic regularly exceeds that of Facebook.) Google reported that Facebook had 540 million unique visitors in April – some 35 percent of all Web users, universe-wide. Meanwhile, the popular social-networking site drew 570 billion page views.
It's not hard to do the math. 570 billion page views equals a lot of eyeballs – and a lot of real estate for advertisers. No wonder Facebook has begun to rake in the cash.