It was 10 years ago today that an insecure 20-year-old computer science student named Mark Zuckerberg, together with a few perhaps-not-quite-as-insecure friends, created a Harvard student connection website called "Thefacebook." Initially launched on a whim, and without any serious expectations for it to reach a wider audience, the site's name soon became simply - wait for it - Facebook, which as of this writing accommodates 1.2 billion active users — nearly a seventh of the entire world's population.
Contrary to the evangelistic tones of Aaron Sorkin's dialogue for the Facebook movie The Social Network, Zuckerberg and his colleagues didn't actually anticipate that people would "live on the internet," or that the site would get any further than the Harvard network in the first place. But it has, and though the human race isn't quite set up for permanent lodgings on the internet (yet...), the expansion of social media platforms within the last decade has been largely spurred by Facebook — still the grandaddy of them all.
But forget the oft-heard and rather simplistic commentary about how "the internet is making us more connected" (duh) or what have you. Forget even that there are an estimated trillion Facebook status updates in the network. (Though to be fair, a third of those are from your 13-year-old niece.) What's important to consider today is the business perspective: how it's only been in the last few years that businesses have had the means (and, arguably, the abilities) to push their content through Facebook.
According to eMarketer, the digital ad market grew by 23% in 2012, and, awaiting the statistics, was projected to have gone even further in 2013. Though it's anyone's guess as to whether Facebook will still be on top of the social media food chain a decade from now, for the moment it remains the apex for both business and personal content sharing. Zuckerberg and his company reported a profit of $1.5 billion on almost $8 billion in revenues in 2013 — not bad for a drunk college student's whim.
So happy birthday, Facebook. Here's wishing you another decade of good graces. Just don't fritter it away with more ill-advised delusions of grandeur in the stock market.