Facebook's IPO filing: Top 10 surprises

There was a flood of facts, figures, and other details that came out of Facebook's IPO filing. Here's what you should focus on.

Boy, was there was a lot to digest from yesterday's Facebook IPO filing.

The filing was a cacophony of financial figures, charts, stats, highlighting and discussing strategy, risks, and growth expectations. So to make it easier for you, CNET has compiled the top 10 surprises and things you need to know about Facebook.

1. Facebook is big: Okay, that's a pretty obvious one. But it's jaw-dropping to see just how big it really is. The company reported 845 million monthly users, rapidly closing in on 1 billion. Keep in mind most people will have that 500 million figure in their heads courtesy of the film "Social Network." Impressively, more than half of of those 845 million users log in to Facebook daily. No other company has this kind of deep and broad relationship with their end users.

Other impressive stats include 2.7 billion likes and comments uploaded each day, 250 million photos uploaded each day, and 100 billion friendships.

2. When it comes to revenue, Facebook is just getting started: Despite a massive user base, Facebook hasn't quite figured out how to take advantage of that to generate revenue. Financially, the company is on sure footing with solid growth. But given its audience, revenue should be higher. Once--or if--Facebook figures out how to generate more revenue through its display ads and its app platform, it may actually live up to its purported $100 billion valuation.

3. It's hooked on Zynga: The common wisdom was Zynga was reliant on Facebook for its existence. Well, it appears to be a two-way street, as the social network derives 12 percent of its total revenue from the cut it gets from Zynga's social games, including Farmville and Words With Friends.

Zynga is important enough to Facebook that it was listed as a risk in Facebook's filing. Any disruption to its relationship with Zynga could significantly hurt its revenue.

4. Google is seen as its biggest threat: This may not be a complete surprise, but the filing directly acknowledges the uphill battle it faces against Google. While Facebook called out Microsoft and Twitter as competitors too, it specifically mentioned Google as the example when expressing its concern about companies with more resources and superior competitive position.

While this isn't likely to happen, Facebook listed as a potential threat Google using its search engines, browsers, and mobile platform to deny access or make it difficult to get to Facebook's sites and services. Or it could just promote its own Google+ network over Facebook.

5. Mobile needs to be a priority: Facebook has always lagged behind in the development of its mobile app, and we're beginning to see why. The company acknowledged that it doesn't derive any revenue from its smartphone app --a big problem if more people each day are checking in through their iPhone or Android smartphone. In fact, the company boasted more than 425 million mobile monthly active users in December.

Facebook's problem is that unlike the Web site, it doesn't deliver ads to the app. The revelation underscores the dilemma that companies face with these apps: just how do you place ads in them without irking your users? Facebook said it is investing heavily in mobile, as that's where everything is going. But it's going to need to do something quickly, because Apple and Google have already established their own presence in mobile ads.

6. Revenue growth is actually slowing: The company's revenue grew an impressive 88 percent to $3.7 billion in 2011. Its growth from 2009 to 2010: a phenomenal 154 percent. Yes, most companies would kill for this kind of growth, but many of those companies are already public and already in a much more mature state, while Facebook isn't public yet.

Wall Street is banking that Facebook figures out the proper business model and re-accelerates the revenue growth.

7. It does pay to be on Facebook's platform: Developers received $1.4 billion from transactions enabled by Facebook's payment infrastructure. While many may look at the company's advertising potential, a surprisingly large chunk of revenue came from its platform.

Still, that pales in comparison to Apple's iOS platform, which paid out $700 million to developers in the last quarter, and $4 billion over the lifetime of the App Store. Of course, Facebook got started more recently.

8. Facebook isn't so hot in Asia: Facebook may have global reach, but it is still lacking in the key growth markets in Asia. Facebook did list out a number of local social networks and Web portals as competitors, and looking at the financials, it's clear the company has a lot of work to do to expand its presence around the world.

A majority of its revenue still comes domestically. Last year, 56 percent of its revenue came from the U.S., although that was down from 62 percent in 2010. Outside of the U.S., the company said most of its revenue comes from Western Europe, Canada, and Australia.

9. Facebook IPO funds will spur innovation: Just like Google spawned a wave of millionaires who pursued their own projects, the Facebook billions will serve as a foundation for several start-ups. You're already seeing it, with Dustin Moskovitz's Asana start-up, as well as Dave Morin's Path social photo-sharing app.

10. Mark Zuckerberg has an entourage: The safety of the CEO is always important, but given Zuckerberg's bigger-than-usual control over Facebook , it seems extra critical to keep the 27-year-old out of harm's way. Hence, the CEO who favors hoodies will have a "comprehensive security program...to address safety concerns resulting from his position as founder, chairman, and CEO."

For example, Facebook has outfitted his modest home in Palo Alto, Calif.. "We paid for the initial procurement, installation and maintenance of security measures," although the S-1 doesn't disclose how much that cost. In addition, Facebook is paying annual costs of security personnel for Zuckerberg. Naturally, he'll also get use of a private jet.

Paul Sloan contributed to this story.

 

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