Facebook Files For IPO, Exposes ‘The Hacker Way’ Among Other Juicy Details

Facebook filed it’s form S-1 with the SEC today to raise $5 billion in an initial public offering. It’s likely to be the largest by a web company since Google in 2004 and could place the social network’s value as high as $75 billion to $100 billion. The 209 page document was filled with loads of interesting information about the profitability, size and future plans of the company. So I thought I would share some of the most interesting details from the document:

  • Facebook has 845 million monthly and 483 million daily users as of December 31, 2011.
  • Facebook had $3.711 billion in revenue in 2011, a huge jump from its $777 million revenue in 2009. This included $1 billion in net profit in 2011.
  • Facebook has $3.9 million in cash in 2011 up from $305 in cash in 2008.
  • In 2011, Zynga accounted for approximately 12% of their revenue.
  • Chief Operating Officer Sheryl K. Sandberg received a $30,491,613 stock award last year.
  • Zuckerberg used a security detail and private jet that totalled $783,529 in 2011.
  • Mark Zuckerberg owns 28.2% of the company while Peter Thiel owns 2.5%. Zuckerberg has control of a majority of Facebook’s voting stock.
  • The NASDAQ ticker symbol for Facebook will be: FB

Finally, the most interesting section of the filing for anyone starting or running a business is the letter from Mark Zuckerberg which shares some insights on the company culture and approach to innovation. He calls it “The Hacker Way” and outlines the following:

The Hacker Way

As part of building a strong company, we work hard at making Facebook the best place for great people to have a big impact on the world and learn from other great people. We have cultivated a unique culture and management approach that we call the Hacker Way.

The word “hacker” has an unfairly negative connotation from being portrayed in the media as people who break into computers. In reality, hacking just means building something quickly or testing the boundaries of what can be done. Like most things, it can be used for good or bad, but the vast majority of hackers I’ve met tend to be idealistic people who want to have a positive impact on the world.

The Hacker Way is an approach to building that involves continuous improvement and iteration. Hackers believe that something can always be better, and that nothing is ever complete. They just have to go fix it — often in the face of people who say it’s impossible or are content with the status quo.

Hackers try to build the best services over the long term by quickly releasing and learning from smaller iterations rather than trying to get everything right all at once. To support this, we have built a testing framework that at any given time can try out thousands of versions of Facebook. We have the words “Done is better than perfect” painted on our walls to remind ourselves to always keep shipping.

Hacking is also an inherently hands-on and active discipline. Instead of debating for days whether a new idea is possible or what the best way to build something is, hackers would rather just prototype something and see what works. There’s a hacker mantra that you’ll hear a lot around Facebook offices: “Code wins arguments.”

Hacker culture is also extremely open and meritocratic. Hackers believe that the best idea and implementation should always win — not the person who is best at lobbying for an idea or the person who manages the most people.

To encourage this approach, every few months we have a hackathon, where everyone builds prototypes for new ideas they have. At the end, the whole team gets together and looks at everything that has been built. Many of our most successful products came out of hackathons, including Timeline, chat, video, our mobile development framework and some of our most important infrastructure like the HipHop compiler.

So, in essence, Facebook is taking on a very disruptive approach and letting it’s employees hack to create new innovations and push the company forward which reminds me of the much talked about ’20 percent time’ that Google offered to it’s employees to work on projects they wanted to cover. It famously gave birth to such products as Gmail and Google Earth among others.

The letter from Zuckerberg goes on, but I won’t spoil it for you. You can read the entire Facebook form S-1 (below).
[scribd id=80197889 key=key-1vklr5wyzbq3bgas8r4v mode=list]

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Written by:
Frank Gruber is the cofounder, CEO and Executive Editor of Tech.Co (formerly Tech Cocktail). He is the author of the book, Startup Mixology, Tech Cocktail’s Guide to Building, Growing, and Celebrating Startup Success. He is also a startup advisor and investor to startups. Find Frank Gruber online and follow him on Twitter at @FrankGruber.
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