Facebook will generate about $500 million in revenue in 2009, on its way to earning billions, entrepreneur and Netscape founder Marc Andreessen said in a July 6 interview with Reuters.
“This calendar year they’ll do over $500 million,” Andreessen told the wire service. “There’s every reason to expect in my view that the thing can be doing billions in revenue five years from now.”
Andreessen said although he sits on Facebook’s board he is not an investor in the social networking site, which has approximately 225 million users. Facebook itself has not been in the habit of disclosing its revenue, although it has accepted substantial investment from Microsoft and other sources.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has suggested that growth is a larger priority for Facebook than figuring out an optimum model for revenue generation.
Andreessen has revealed he has invested in Twitter, which plans to generate revenue through tools and business services. Twitter co-founder Biz Stone has publicly suggested that advertising will not be the primary focus for the social networking site, which lets its community post 140-character “tweets” about their activities.
Facebook has been moving to make its existence more central to both the Web and its users’ lives.
For example, Facebook announced on July 1 it would simplify and standardize its privacy settings, even as the site moved to make its users’ profiles more searchable over the Web. The site’s six privacy pages and 40 settings will be collected onto a single page, preventing users from unintentionally activating or declining certain access options with regard to their status updates, photo albums and links, the company said.
“We found that too many privacy options may result in users not really appreciating what content they’re sharing and with whom,” Chris Kelly, chief privacy officer for Facebook, said during a July 1 news conference about the issue.
Despite their professed attention to the needs of the community, however, Facebook has also faced periodic uproar this year from users over issues ranging from its homepage redesign to whether the site can retain ownership of users’ photos and other content.
Recognizing the site’s popularity-particularly within the workplace-IT companies such as Omniture have designed applications or sites that utilize Facebook within an enterprise context.