Facebook being in the news isn’t necessarily anything surprising. Every time the social media giant rolls out a new product, feature, or statistic, the world’s news sites make sure you know about it within minutes. But there have been two recent Facebook related news stories that are a little more intriguing than the usual report of a new design or functionality change. These reports have more to do with Facebook’s success and future, or perhaps lack there of.
The first piece of news, released by Inside Facebook, was that Facebook’s use is declining in the United States and Canada. In the month of May, Facebook lost nearly 6 million users in the United States alone. The drop was significantly less in Canada, with Facebook seeing a user drop of around 1.5 million. The cause for the user drop is unknown, but it’s more likely than not a mixture of things. Summer months are typically a slower for social media sites as college students cram for finals and change into their summer routines. It could also be that Facebook has finally hit its saturation point. With a total of 150 million users in the United States, nearly half of the entire country’s population is now a Facebook user. Could this be the end for Facebook’s growth? Probably not, these numbers are only for two of Facebook’s many countries around the world. While they are large, important countries that adopted the social network early on, Facebook is incredibly popular all around the world. The social network’s overall growth is still increasing, with approximately 687 million active users every month. These numbers could mean a lot of things for Facebook, but we won’t be able to tell exactly what until we see if the decline in the US and Canada continues or levels out.
With Facebook approaching 700 million users, there are now reports that Facebook is preparing itself for an IPO that could easily top $100 billion. Yes, you read that right, $100 BILLION. This would make Facebook’s IPO one of the largest in history. Much larger than LinkedIn’s recent IPO of $4.3 billion, and quadruple Google’s 2004 IPO of $23 billion. CNBC reports that the first quarter of 2012 is the likely time for Facebook to go public. This timing seems very possible, as Facebook will be mandated to report their quarterly financial statements beginning in April 2012. This will be required of them due to a 1934 Securities and Exchange Act that requires companies with more than 500 investors to publicly release their financial information. Facebook expects to have more than 500 investors sometime this year, so an IPO early next year would make sense.
With a valuable future and decline of users, Facebook’s fate is hard to tell. Some people believe Facebook will someday go the way of MySpace, while others think Facebook is different and will remain a constant part of our lives. Only time will tell what truly happens, but these are definitely some interesting figures to think about. Tell us what you think Facebook’s future looks like in the comments below. Is a drop in users the beginning of the end, or just a bump in the road to a successful IPO?