Facebook is an online social networking service founded by Mark Zuckerberg on February 4, 2004 with his college roommates and fellow Harvard University students Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes.
The name, “Facebook,” comes from a colloquialism for the directory given to students at American universities. Though membership on Facebook was initially limited to Harvard students, it later expanded to other universities and high schools. In 2004, Facebook moved its headquarters to Palo Alto, Calif., and in 2011 to nearby Menlo Park.
It received its first investment in June 2004 from PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel. Facebook applied for a $5 billion IPO in 2012, one of the biggest in the history of technology. By the end of May 2012, the stock lost over a quarter of its starting value, prompting “The Wall Street Journal” to call the IPO a “fiasco.”
Facebook’s subsidiaries include: Instagram (acquired in April 2012 for $1 billion); WhatsApp (acquired in February 2014 for $19 billion); and Oculus VR (acquired in March 2014 for $2 billion). Facebook has been blocked at various points in China, Iran, Pakistan, Syria, and Uzbekistan, but as of December 2011, it was the second-most accessed website in the U.S. after Google.
As of March 2014, Facebook had 1.28 billion active users.