Facebook, the world’s largest social media platform, has come a long way since it started in 2004 as a way for founder Mark Zuckerberg, his roommates at Harvard, and other college students to connect. Currently, the social media giant has almost 3 billion active users each month. In the 17 years that Facebook has been in business, it has built an empire. What companies does Facebook own?
Facebook has purchased 91 companies.
Since purchasing the Facebook.com domain name in 2005 for $200,000, Facebook has spent billions of dollars acquiring 91 other companies that either complement or compete with its business model.
Facebook’s first purchase was for the California-based company Parakey, a web-based computer user interface, in 2007. The acquisition was primarily a way for Zuckerberg to get ahold of Parakey talent including co-founders Blake Ross and Joe Hewitt. Ross and Hewitt joined the Facebook team to “work on the development of Facebook Platform and the company’s website,” the company said in a 2007 press release announcing the acquisition.
Like the Parakey acquisition, many of Facebook’s acquisitions over the years have been about acquiring the company’s talent rather than the products they create.
"We have not once bought a company for the company. We buy companies to get excellent people,” Zuckerberg said in a 2010 interview. “In order to have a really entrepreneurial culture one of the key things is to make sure we're recruiting the best people. One of the ways to do this is to focus on acquiring great companies with great founders."
Here are a few of Facebook’s top company acquisitions.
Zenbe and Beluga
In 2010, Facebook purchased the messaging startup Zenbe for an undisclosed amount of money. In the talent acquisition, three Zenbe employees joined the Facebook team to help in the development of what would become Facebook Messenger.
A year after the Zenbe purchase, Facebook also purchased Beluga, another messaging app startup, to build the technology behind its Messenger application.
In 2012, Facebook purchased the photo and video-sharing social media site Instagram for $1 billion in cash and stock shares. At the time of the purchase, Instagram wasn’t generating any revenue and only had about 30 million users. Currently, Instagram has over 500 million daily users and brings in about $9 billion in revenue. The social media app is more popular among younger users who see Facebook as the social media site for their parents and grandparents.
Facebook’s 2014 purchase of the instant messaging platform WhatsApp for $20 billion is probably the largest in the company’s history. The mobile messaging and calling service is now the most popular global messaging app worldwide. Most of the users are outside of the U.S.
A month after purchasing WhatsApp in 2014, Facebook acquired the virtual reality company Oculus for about $2 billion. With the acquisition, Facebook planned to “extend Oculus’ existing advantage in gaming to new verticals, including communications, media and entertainment, education and other areas,” the company said in a press release.
"Oculus has the chance to create the most social platform ever, and change the way we work, play and communicate," Zuckerberg said in a statement.
Facebook’s most recent purchase of BigBox VR in June 2021 added the popular POPULATION: ONE virtual experience to the Oculus platform.