Remember three years ago, when Microsoft paid a quarter-billion dollars for 1.6% of Facebook and the exclusive right to run banner ads across Facebook.com? Tell the truth, how many of you thought that was a killer business decision? I can’t say I did at the time. But as that deal is about to expire in 2011, Facebook’s status as a revenue juggernaut is rarely questioned any more.
In fact, I have been mulling over data from both companies, and I’m ready to declare in public my belief that Facebook will be bigger in five years than Google is right now, barring some drastic action or accident. Futhermore, Facebook will grow without needing to cut into Google’s core business of text ads, which are still 99% of Google’s profits. Even if every single Facebook user performs just as many searches with Google as ever—including Google Instant, mobile search, and YouTube—Facebook will inexorably grow as big as Google is today and maybe bigger, because Madison Avenue’s brands are less interested in targeting than they are in broadcasting to vast mother-loving buckets of demographically correct eyeballs, and Facebook has become the perfect platform for that.
What do I mean by bigger? Facebook already has more page views than Google. People already spend more time spent on Facebook than Google. I’m referring to the life blood of any business: revenues.
Google’s 2010 revenues will be $28 billion, give or take a billion. The goal of this writeup is to illustrate the ways that Facebook’s annual revenues could grow from $2 billion to more than $30 billion in five years a diverse set of revenue streams that have one thing in common: people. Facebook’s future revenue streams, like their applications, are naturally social, and engage consumers with social intent, not just a widget or “social layer.” We repeat: social is not a layer you add; it is core to monetization.