Social networking site Facebook turns 5

February 5th, 2009 - 10:14 am ICT by Amrit Rashmisrisethi  

Facebook logoOn Wednesday, Facebook celebrated its fifth birthday with 150 million guests but no clear path to profitability.

The co-founder ,Chief executive executive Mark Zuckerberg also his two Harvard University roommates five years ago, marked the occasion in low-key fashion with a blog post urging members to send a virtual gift to their online friends.

Mr Zuckerberg, 24, said he was ‘humbled’ by the phenomenal growth of a website which began as a way for his fellow Harvard students to stay connected and has blossomed into a worldwide network that has dwarfed rival MySpace.

The web site was widely spread to other schools around the country and eventually anyone aged 13 or older with an Internet connection was allowed to create a Facebook profile and post photos or update their friends on their status.

Earlier Facebook has also been in a controversy and has been accused of violating privacy, facilitating online sexual predators and hate groups and simply being a colossal waste of time. It has also been touted as a force for good, serving as bridge between people and even as a tool to counter terrorism and repressive governments.

US software giant Microsoft bought a 1.6 per cent stake in Facebook in 2007 for US$240 million, valuing the social network on paper at US$15 billion. But Facebook, unlike other Web giants such as Amazon, eBay, Google and Yahoo!, is yet to prove how it is going to translate traffic into cash.

‘There’s no significant visible source of revenue other than investors,’ said Silicon Valley analyst Rob Enderle of the Enderle Group.

‘There’s a lot of potential there but they’re still kind of living in this dotcom mindset where a business plan doesn’t make a difference,’ he said. ‘And as we saw with the dotcoms, that has a very unfortunate end to it.’ ‘Google was able to figure out fairly quickly how to monetize what they were doing and they became a giant and that’s the potential for Facebook but they’ve got to cross that chasm,’ Mr Enderle said.

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