Lazaro Gamio / Axios

When Facebook's went public 5 years ago today — the third-largest U.S. IPO ever — it was largely seen as a platform for teens to share photos and play silly games. Now, it's the fifth-largest company by market capitalization and rivals Google as the biggest online advertising platform. Here's a look at how the company has grown over the past five years:

Reach: Five years ago, Facebook primarily reached young adults in the U.S. Today, Facebook's Daily Active Users (DAUs) feature a cross-generational mix around the world. The number of businesses also using the platform to communicate and market has increased substantially.

Revenue: When Facebook went public, it had just made its first major investment in Instagram for $1 billion. That expense impacted Facebook's ability to make a significant profit that year, earning just $53 million in net income. By the end of 2016, Facebook had pocketed $10.2 billion in net income, becoming not only profitable, but lucrative.

Mobile: At the time of its IPO, Facebook's user base was mostly accessing the platform on desktop, so Facebook was making only 11% (roughly) of its ad revenue on mobile. Today, Facebook is a mobile ad cash cow, with 85% of its ad revenue coming from mobile. It accounts for roughly 20% of all U.S. mobile ad revenue, per eMarketer.

Competitors:

  • Facebook's biggest competitors in 2012: Twitter, Pinterest, Flickr
  • Facebook's biggest competitors in 2017: Google, Snapchat, Amazon

Problems:

  • Facebook's biggest problem 2012: Mobile ad measurement
  • Facebook's biggest problems 2017: Fake news, Facebook Live, data privacy

Milestones: Just prior to its IPO, Facebook struck a deal to acquire Instagram at $1 billion. It's since made a key number of high profile investments to diversify its revenue stream, build out new products and thwart competition, including a $19 billion acquisition of the WhatsApp messaging service. But as it became a major news-sharing platform, it also became embroiled in heated battles over the veracity and bias of its content and some horrific scenes broadcast on its Live feature. Facebook has spent the past several months fighting the backlash, building closer relationships with media organizations and hiring human fact-checkers to keep an eye on its content.

  • Aug. 2011: Launched Messenger
  • Jan. 2012: Launched Timeline
  • Apr. 2012: Acquired Instagram ($1 billion)
  • Feb. 2014: Acquired WhatsApp ($19 billion)
  • Mar. 2014: Acquired Oculus VR ($2 billion)
  • May 2015: Launched Instant Articles for publishers
  • Jan. 2016: Launched Facebook Live
  • May 2016: Trending Topics controversy
  • Oct. 2016: Fake News controversy

Mission/Tools: Facebook told investors in 2012 it's stated goal was "to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected." The tech giant focused its investments on enhancing the Facebook platform itself, as well as buying other messaging and asset-sharing platforms to grow its reach. Today, Zuckerberg's stated mission is to grow a social infrastructure company that fights worldwide health and infrastructure challenges and brings humanity together through advanced technologies, like drones, satellites, fiber cable, artificial intelligence, and virtual and augmented reality.

Zuck: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was a 28-year-old, unmarried college drop-out when the company went public. The tech mogul has since married, had a baby (and has another on the way), and embarked on a nationwide its-not-a-campaign tour, leading many to speculate about his political ambitions.

Go deeper

Lawmakers demand answers from World Bank on Xinjiang loan

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

U.S. lawmakers are demanding answers from the World Bank about its continued operation of a $50 million loan program in Xinjiang, following Axios reporting on the loans.

Why it matters: The Chinese government is currently waging a campaign of cultural and demographic genocide against ethnic minorities in Xinjiang, in northwest China. The lawmakers contend that the recipients of the loans may be complicit in that repression.

Obama: Americans could be "collateral damage" in Trump's war on mail-in voting

Photo: Zahim Mohd/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Former President Barack Obama tweeted Friday that everyday Americans could become "collateral damage" if President Trump continues to attempt to slash funding for the U.S. Postal Service as part of his campaign against mail-in voting.

Why it matters: Trump linked his baseless claims that increased mail-in voting will lead to widespread voter fraud on Thursday to the current impasse in coronavirus stimulus negotiations.

Elon Musk is channeling Henry Ford in auto manufacturing

Photo illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios. Photo: Zhang Peng/LightRocket via Getty Images

Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who has spent more than a decade trying to disrupt the traditional auto industry, is sounding more and more like the man most closely associated with it: Henry Ford.

Why it matters: In his quest to build affordable electric cars for the masses, Musk is starting to embrace many of the ideas pioneered by Ford's founder — things like vertical supply chains and an obsession with manufacturing efficiency. A century ago that approach helped to popularize the American automobile by lowering the cost of the Model T.