That didn’t take long. It was just in mid-September that Facebook said it had reached 300m users (and was cashflow positive, to boot).
Now comes news that the social networking behemoth has added another 50m users just in time for the holidays. With 350m users, Facebook is now firmly entrenched as the fourth-largest property on the web (after Google, Microsoft and Yahoo, respectively).
Having achieved this massive scale, Facebook is contending with a new host of challenges.
Silicon Valley’s commitment to shareholder democracy – or to public shareholder democracy as opposed to the influence wielded by venture capital firms – does not seem to be strong.
The news that Facebook has established a dual-class share structure, converting its existing shareholders to Class B stock carrying 10 times the voting rights of Class A shares, suggests that (despite its denials) Facebook is readying itself for an initial public offering.
It is also falling in line with Google, which created a dual-class share structure for its IPO in 2004, which also gave 10 times the voting power to some shareholders. Eric Schmidt, the company’s chief executive, and Larry Page and Sergey Brin, its co-founders, control the majority voting rights as a result.
Responding to concerns that it was invading users’ privacy and taking ownership of their content, Facebook will let its members choose what terms of service govern the popular social networking site.