Facebook turns 15 today, Feb. 4. If it were a teenager, it’d be entering its rebellious phase, and to be sure, the company’s actions in recent years have been pretty rough. For Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, 2018 was a year filled with scrutiny, criticism and scandal.
Zuckerberg, whose company went public shortly after his 28th birthday, is one of the richest and most successful college dropouts of all time. But in April 2018, the billionaire had to testify in front of Congress after it was disclosed that political data firm Cambridge Analytica had gained access to the private information of up to 87 million Facebook users. And another scandal prompted the social media giant to expose its impropriety itself: The company said it gave streaming services such as Spotify and Netflix the ability to read its users’ private messages.
Tech magazine Wired pegs Facebook’s total scandals for 2018 at more than 20. Even so, as the social networking site celebrates a decade and a half of existence, Zuckerberg still manages to remain one of the world’s richest billionaires.
Mark Zuckerberg's Net Worth: $62.5B
Forbes named Mark Zuckerberg the richest U.S. entrepreneur under age 40 in 2017. At that time, Zuckerberg’s net worth was $71 billion — $57.4 billion more than the runner-up, Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz. Zuckerberg’s net worth jumped to $72.1 billion in late April 2018, following his appearance in Congress, after hitting $62.2 billion in late March after the disclosure of the Facebook privacy controversy, according to Bloomberg data.
Controversy or not, Facebook excels at generating revenue. Many tech stocks have performed well in 2019, but Facebook’s stock is strong enough to add a cool $6 billion to Zuckerberg’s net worth at the beginning of February. To emphasize that point, Zuckerberg’s net worth has jumped by at least $10 billion since December 2018.
Zuckerberg holds the titles of co-founder, chairman and CEO of Facebook. Facebook boasts one of the largest initial public offerings in U.S. history. The company’s shares were priced at $38 each, valuing Facebook at $104 billion. Zuckerberg owned more than 503 million shares and options when the company went public, which boosted his share of the company to $16.9 billion, Forbes reported.
In 2016, Zuckerberg began to sell some of his Facebook stock. As of April 2017, Zuckerberg owned 462.3 million shares, Money reported. FB stock is worth around $168 as of Feb. 4, 2019.
Facebook Privacy Controversy
In March 2018, several media outlets, including The New York Times and The Guardian, reported that Cambridge Analytica, a data analysis firm that worked on President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, obtained the data of 50 million Facebook users and secretly kept it. In early April, Facebook disclosed in a blog post that it believes the private data shared with Cambridge Analytica actually could have affected up to 87 million users.
In the blog post, Mike Schroepfer, chief technology officer at Facebook, outlined nine ways the company was working to better protect user information, including limiting the types of information that can be accessed by third-party apps. Despite the reassurances, Facebook stock plummeted nearly 10 percent. In early April, Zuckerberg testified in front of Congress about his company’s mishandling of the personal data. His two-day apology tour ended up being a valuable appearance — it led Facebook stock to rise 3 percent.
Facebook's History and Worth
In April 2018, Facebook was valued at more than $479 billion. As of Feb. 4, 2019, its valuation is almost $479 billion. It might be worth noting that Facebook’s valuation could someday reach as high as $1 trillion, as CNNMoney reported in February 2018.
Founded in 2004, the social platform was originally known as thefacebook.com and was intended as a social directory for Harvard students. More than half of Harvard’s undergraduates signed up with thefacebook.com within its first month, according to The Guardian. By the end of 2005, the social network had expanded nationwide.
Facebook’s headquarters are in Menlo Park, Calif., about 30 miles south of San Francisco. Facebook had more than 33,600 employees as of September 2018, reported CNBC. The social media site boasts a staggering 2.32 billion monthly active users as of the fourth quarter of 2018, according to Statista. Facebook was also one of the top five most downloaded iOS apps of 2018, CNN reported.
How Facebook Makes Money
Most people enjoy Facebook for free, which has led some to wonder how Facebook makes money. Its primary source of income is through Facebook ads. Mobile ads are particularly lucrative; revenue from this category makes up 90 percent of total revenue as of July 2018, according to Statista.
Under Zuckerberg’s leadership, Facebook has grown into much more than a social media website. The company also owns Messenger, a chat app with 1.3 billion monthly users as of September 2017, per Statista. Additionally, Facebook owns messenger app WhatsApp — which has 1.5 billion active users as of January 2018, according to TechCrunch — and technology company Oculus, which makes the virtual reality headset Oculus Rift.
In April 2012, Facebook acquired Instagram for $1 billion. As of June 2018, the app has around 1 billion monthly active users. Zuckerberg tried to buy photo- and video-sharing app Snapchat for $3 billion in 2013 but was turned down, according to the Wall Street Journal. Since then, several Snapchat-like features have been rolled out on Instagram.
Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook Salary: $1
In 2012, Mark Zuckerberg reportedly earned about $770,000 from his Facebook salary and bonuses, according to Forbes. The following year, he slashed his annual salary to $1. Making such a move signified that Zuckerberg’s financial standing is dependent on Facebook’s success.
Although the billionaire entrepreneur isn’t earning a salary for his day job, Facebook pays for his expenses, including security and chartered flights for himself and his guests. Such expenses cost the company upward of $653,000 in 2013.
Mark Zuckerberg’s Philanthropy
Mark Zuckerberg possesses more wealth than most people will ever see. Rather than keep his money to himself, however, he plans to give much of it away.
In 2010, Zuckerberg signed the Giving Pledge. The brainchild of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, the Giving Pledge calls for wealthy people to give most of their money to charitable causes.
In November 2015, Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, had their first child, Max. Zuckerberg reiterated his philanthropic intentions in a letter to his daughter. In the letter, the couple introduced the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, which focuses on the causes of personalized learning, curing disease and connecting people.
In August 2017, the couple announced that they had welcomed their second daughter, August.
Read more about rich people like Zuckerberg who live like the average Joe.
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About the Author
Michelle Smith is a freelance business and finance writer with an extensive background in journalism. She served as a foreign correspondent for Russia Today, and as a resource reporter for Dig Media, her work was published on numerous channels, including Gold Investing News, Platinum Investing News and Diamond Investing News. She also contributed to Money News, Fool.com, Money Crashers and The Food Institute.