May 4, 2017:Facebook revenues surge as it nears 2bn active users

Facebook published its latest quarterly financial results last night, and they showed the company’s revenues growing by 51% year-on-year to $7.86bn.

That helped the social network grow its net profits by 76% to $3.06bn. “We had a good start to 2017,” said CEO Mark Zuckerberg in the company’s earning release: one of the understatements of 2017 so far, more like.

Facebook is huge in scale, but its user growth remains comfortably double-digit. In March it averaged 1.28bn daily active users, up 18% year-on-year, while at the end of March Facebook had 1.94 billion monthly active users, up 17%.

It’s thus certain to reach the 2bn milestone this quarter, and quite possibly already did in April. Mobile remains the key driver of all this growth, accounting for 85% of Facebook’s ad revenues in Q1 this year, up from 82% a year ago.

In the company’s earnings call, Zuckerberg majored on community values: boosting “meaningful groups to strengthen our social fabric” as well as plans to hire 3,000 more staff to (in part) help tackle ‘fake news’ on Facebook.

He also talked up Facebook’s recently-announced focus on “making the camera the first augmented reality platform… the first open camera platform”, and emphasised the importance of live video, with the (also previously announced) stat that one in five Facebook videos is now a live broadcast.

“On the content front, we’re looking at investing in kick-starting an ecosystem for longer-form content on Facebook, and that involves us working with content providers to develop that content,” CFO David Wehner told analysts. “In the long run, we expect to see a revenue share model on the platform.”

There was no mention of music during the earnings call: a reflection of the fact that while the music industry is intensely interested in Facebook’s moves on the licensing front, analysts don’t yet see it as significant enough to ask questions about.

One short quote should remind you of the potential here though.

“Just a couple months after we launched it, WhatsApp Status has more than 175 million daily active people using it,” said Zuckerberg, referring to the Snapchat Stories-like revamp of WhatsApp’s feature for posting your current status.

Zero to 175 million in a couple of months is what can happen on a platform of this scale when it throws its weight behind a new feature or media format. Music included, if Facebook has the appetite for doing more than just covering its licensing responsibilities for user-uploaded videos.

Stuart Dredge
READ MORE: Data News
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