Who Really Owns and Controls Facebook? A Deep Dive for Entrepreneurs

As a small business owner or entrepreneur, understanding who owns and controls Facebook can help inform your marketing and growth strategies leveraging their platforms. While Facebook boasts over 2.8 billion monthly active users, the company has a rather unique ownership structure centralized around founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Zuckerberg‘s Founding Vision for Facebook

Back in his Harvard dorm room in 2004, a young Mark Zuckerberg dreamed up a student directory website called TheFacebook. He envisioned it as a place for students to connect with and learn more about their peers on campus.

This founding idea of creating a more open, connected online community has driven Zuckerberg‘s leadership of Facebook to this day. Even with billions of global users, he aims to maintain a "move fast and break things" startup mentality focused on innovation.

Under Zuckerberg‘s day-to-day management as CEO, Facebook has aggressively expanded into new products, features, and acquisitions. This includes major purchases like Instagram in 2012 for $1 billion and WhatsApp in 2014 for $19 billion.

The Meteoric Growth of Facebook Over the Years

Since its 2004 founding among Harvard students, Facebook has achieved staggering growth as a social media behemoth:

  • As of 2022, Facebook has 2.93 billion monthly active users and 1.96 billion daily active users.
  • Facebook‘s annual revenue has skyrocketed from $5.1 billion in 2012 to over $118 billion in 2021.
  • Facebook‘s market capitalization now exceeds $450 billion, making it one of the most valuable public companies.
  • The company employs over 83,000 people around the world, up from just 1,218 employees in 2008.

Facebook‘s global expansion has allowed it to access emerging market growth, especially among younger demographics. Over 300 million users are in India, Facebook‘s largest national market. Across Asia, Africa, and Latin America, 98 million small businesses use Facebook.

Zuckerberg Maintains Control with Dual-Class Shares

Unlike many founders, Mark Zuckerberg has maintained overwhelming control and voting power within Facebook. How? Through the company‘s dual-class share structure:

  • Zuckerberg holds about 60% of Class B shares, which carry 10 votes per share.
  • This gives him over 50% of voting control despite owning only about 13% of Facebook‘s total share capital.
  • Other tech founders like Jeff Bezos and Larry Page/Sergey Brin used similar dual-class structures to preserve control after going public.

By consolidating power in the CEO‘s office, Facebook can stay close to Zuckerberg‘s long-term vision and strategy. However, this concentration of authority in one leader also poses potential governance risks.

The Motivations of Facebook‘s Biggest Outside Investors

While Zuckerberg clearly steers the ship, Facebook has picked up some sizable outside investors over the years, including:

  • The Vanguard Group – With over 150 million Facebook shares, Vanguard is focused on low-cost index investing on behalf of mutual fund investors saving for retirement.
  • Fidelity – This investment giant also takes a largely passive, index-based approach to amass over 126 million Facebook shares.
  • BlackRock – As the world‘s largest asset manager, BlackRock seeks diversification and stability by investing over 47 million shares into this tech blue chip.

Their large stakes reflect institutional confidence in Facebook‘s continued dominance of social media, online advertising, and its long runway for global growth as a public company.

Navigating Facebook‘s Controversies Around Privacy and Elections

Of course, Facebook‘s meteoric rise has not come without stumbles and controversies, especially around privacy and elections:

  • In 2018, the Cambridge Analytica scandal revealed misuse of millions of users‘ data. This spurred stronger data protections.
  • Facebook has faced criticism for allowing election misinformation and manipulation on its platforms. Steps like fact checking and removing false claims aim to address this.
  • Groups like #StopHateForProfit have boycotted Facebook advertising to protest harmful content. The company has announced new hate speech policies in response.

For entrepreneurs marketing on Facebook, it‘s important to keep these controversies and risks in perspective as you navigate the platform. Focus on adding value for your ideal customers with authentic content.

Leveraging Facebook‘s Platforms as a Small Business Owner

As a consultant for small business owners, I always emphasize fully utilizing Facebook‘s unmatched targeted advertising capabilities. With access to users‘ preferences and interests, Facebook ads can drive conversions cost-effectively.

Instagram also provides visual storytelling opportunities through Instagram Shopping and organic content. And messaging apps like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger enable more personal outreach to customers.

Under Mark Zuckerberg‘s leadership, I expect Facebook to continue expanding its commerce and community tools for small businesses. Stay nimble and keep testing new features as they rapidly unroll them across their family of apps.

The bottom line is that while Mark Zuckerberg firmly steers the ship, entrepreneurs can still thrive by strategically harnessing Facebook‘s platforms to find and engage their ideal audiences.