Can you remember when and why you joined Facebook?
It was the summer of 2008, I just graduated high school, was volunteering at a summer camp in Germany, when a girl asked me for my ‘Facebook’.
– My what?!
– Facebook! You don’t have a Facebook? You can’t be at an International Youth Meeting and not have a Facebook.
So…next thing I knew, I had a Facebook.
Time flies. Facebook is turning sweet-sixteen on 6 February this year, and it has changed *a lot* throughout the years.
Now that we’re entering a new decade, let’s see how FB has changed – and how profoundly it changed our lives – from business to relationships.
Click on the year in the timeline to see how Facebook looked back then!
2003: Facemash.com – the very beginning
It all started 17 years ago, when one Saturday night, a bored and slightly drunk Harvard student came up with the idea of using the University’s “face book” (a student directory with photos and basic information) to compare them with each other in a game of ‘hot’ or ‘not’.
Even though the site attracted 450 visitor in the first hour, it was soon shut down by the University, and young Zuck was facing charges for violating privacy, security breaches, and copyright. The charges were eventually dropped and the cheeky student could go on creating his world-changing invention later.
2004 – Official Lauch and Incorporation; First Angel Investment
In January 2004 Mark started working on a site that would be a universal ‘face book’ connecting students at different universities.
At first, it was restricted to Harvard students, but the project quickly expanded to other universities.
Zuck first persuaded his friend, Eduardo Severin, to invest $1000 in the servers. Severin would be later shunted out of the growing business.
When the website went live on 6 February 2004, Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, twin brothers and senior students at Harvard who commissioned Zuckerberg to work on their social network idea: ‘HarvardConnect’ – accused Mark of stealing their idea and breach of contract.
The initial feuds between Zuck and the Winklevoss brothers, as well as his later incident with diluting and shunting Severin, would later inspire the 2010 film The Social Network.
Facebook was orignially financed by an angel investment of $ 500,000 made by Peter Thiel in the summer of 2004, for 10.2% shares in the new company (whose board he joined as well).
Facebook was initially inteneded as a website for students, and even its original founders did not anticipate its global potential and the mark (pun unintended!) it would leave on the world: “Everything on offer was centred on the lives of students: first at Harvard, then at Columbia, Stanford and Yale. On the face of it, the focus was campus dating and a feature whereby users could send each other “pokes”, whose meaning was open to interpretation, thus increasing the fun.”
2005 – Multinational start, minimalistic profile
In 2005, Facebook dropped the ‘The’ from its name, and by the end of the year had 6 million active users.
It also raises a series A funding from Accel Partners in April. Accel made a $12.7 million investment.This gave Facebook a $98 million valuation.
In fall, Facebook opened its doors to 21 UK universities and worldwide. It also launched its high school version in September.
The breakthrough ‘killer feature’ appeared in October though:
“ In October 2005, Facebook introduced its iconic and popular photo sharing system. This enabled users to upload profile photos and other photos without space limits. By December, people were able to tag friends and family. A feature that would be loved for over a decade.”
2006 – Facebook opens to everyone aged 13+
In September 2006 Facebook allowed everyone above the age of 13, with a vail email, to register.
It also closes a series B round of funding in April – this time of $27.5 million, from several VCs.
In 2006, Facebook also lanched a ‘mini-feed’ – a precursor to the Facebook wall: “2006 was when the Mini-feed was born, which was basically a play-by-play of your Facebook activity. This turned FB stalking to a whole new level, because you could keep track of what people were doing, aka have they updated their relationship status yet?
Confused about the ‘poke’ feature?
Apparently, Facebook was as well: as it explained in its FAQ:
“We have about as much of an idea as you do. We thought it would be fun to make a feature that had no real purpose and to see what happens from there. So mess around with it, because you’re not getting an explanation from us.”
2007 – Facebook Ads, Business Pages + Series “C”
Facebook forever changes the face of advertising by lunching pages and Facebook Ads:
“Facebook Ads + Facebook Pages Launch (November 2007) The iconic Facebook Ad system, called Social Ads at the time, was created alongside Facebook Pages. These two marketing tools would soon become essential tools in any marketing handbook, and no one knew at the time that universities would be having classes about them.”
Also, Facebook closed a successful series C investment round from Microsoft in 2007: it bought a 1.6% of shares in Facebook for $240 million, giving it a valuation if $15 billion.
2008 – 100 Million Users Mark + Chat
2009 – Introduction of the ‘Like’ Button
FB goes mobile and introduces the iconic ‘LIKE’ – which again, will have a massive and unexpected impact – not only on our online behaviour but also psychological well-being. At the same time – the ‘likes’ were what made Facebook so sticky.
2010 – Working on its strengths
2011 – A whole new design: the Timeline, Cover Photo + New Welcome page
Facebook revamped its design by introducing the cover photo, and ‘Teh Timeline’ – showing your friends’ activity rather than just ‘about’ information:
2012 – IPO, 1 Billion users + buying Instagram
Facebook filed for IPO (Initial Public Offering) on 1 February 2012 – just 8 years after it was launched as a website in a student dorm.
With a price per share of $38 and a market cap of $104 billion – Facebook became the highest-valued company to IPO for the first time in history.
The trading, which began on May 18 2012, left Mark Zuckerberg’s stock valued at $19 billion, and Facebook at $104 billion – the highest IPO valuation in US history.
2013 – 2014 – buying WhatsApp, introducing safety check
On February 19 Facebook acquired WhatsApp for $19 billion.
It also introduced the ‘safety check’ in October, in the aftermath to Japan’s Earthquake and several other natural disasters.
“Safety Check (October 2014) Safety check was Facebook’s brainchild after the disastrous Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of 2011. Within a year, it was activated for Typhoon Ruby in the Philippines, Tropical Cyclone Pam in the South Pacific, and a series of earthquakes in Afghanistan, Chile, and Nepal. The application set a precedent for how social networks could truly affect people’s lives during disasters.”
2015 – Messenger for the web
2016: Introducing REACTIONS and Facebook Live
Live streaming elevated the video to the hottest trend on social media for years to come (check out my previous post on Facebook video strategy), while the reactions finally provided a vehicle for showing our feelings more accurately (albeit without the coveted ‘dislike’ button).
2017 – Facebook hits 2 billion users
Almost a third of the word’s population is now on Facebook.
2018 – Introducing Stories
The new favourite Facebook post format: leveraging the sense of urgency (stories disappear after 24 hours!) to make people post & engage more.
2019 – Facebook released a massive redesign in beta
Which we covered in our previous post here – get a sneak peak of how Facebook will change in 2020!
“On May 2, 2019 at F8, the company announced its new vision with the tagline “the future is private”. A redesign of the website and mobile app was introduced, dubbed as “FB5”.The event also featured plans for improving groups, a dating platform, end-to-end encryption on its platforms, and allowing users on Messenger to communicate directly with WhatsApp and Instagram users.”
How Facebook changed our lives?
The 16 years with Facebook changed our lives profoundly – from how we see friendships, to how much we care about or privacy and share online, how we advertise our business – and even had an impact on our mental health.
What were the biggest impacts? Let’s see below!