Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg says the company did “really well” against its revenue expectations for 2008, and that the company is still hiring, especially engineers and salespeople.
We had a chance to catch up with Mark for a few minutes during our visit to Silicon Valley last week. Specifically, Mark says:
- Facebook’s 2008 revenue performed “really well” against internal expectations, “especially compared to how the economy seems to be going.”
- Mark wouldn’t offer numbers, so we’re not sure how revenue came in compared to the $300 million to $350 million he reportedly predicted at a staff meeting last January. (Regarding that estimate, he tells us, “I think we were discussing ranges within the company, and I don’t even know if that was accurate.”) But he says between direct sales and online ads, Facebook is “seeing really strong growth.”
- My colleague Henry Blodget notes that he’s heard 2008 revenue was about $265 million, which is well off that target. Which suggests, as Henry notes, that Mark is now revising the target range downward.
- Facebook had about 800 employees at the end of 2008, up from about 450 at the beginning of the year. That’s less than the 1,000 he supposedly projected to end the year with on that same conference call.
- Mark says Facebook will cross the 1,000 employee mark this year. “We’re one of the few companies that are still growing.”
- They’re especially looking to hire more engineers/technical types and expand their direct sales force internationally and in the U.S.
- Facebook might open a few more international offices this year in addition to those they’ve announced in France and Ireland. Mark says Facebook waits until they have “strong growth and millions of users” in a country before opening an office there.
We didn’t have a chance to talk for long. But it seems Mark — who was wearing a tie! — really has a hand on the fact that Facebook needs to work on revenue and profit, not just new products and features.
Specifically, when explaining why Facebook needs to hire more engineers, he mentioned products and finances: He wants to build a more efficient tech infrastructure so Facebook can build more things on it — and to have “a lot of efficiency on the cost structure of the company.”
We didn’t get to chat more about products, funding, or more financial stuff. But it seems Mark is pleased with how Facebook Connect — the company’s new product that lets you use other Web sites like Gawker and Joost with your Facebook account — is going so far.
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