This Is How Much Facebook Made Per User Last Month: 2 Pennies

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For all its ubiquity and $1.59 billion in revenue, the company's net income was $64 million in its last quarter.

Every month, a billion people offer their two cents to Facebook, literally. That's roughly how much income the company generated per user per month over its last quarter. 


Add it all up and the company made just $64 million on revenue of $1.59 billion. That means the company is generating about half a buck a month of revenue per user, and just $0.02 a month in income. Facebook says that a run-up in R&D hurt their profitability for the quarter. 

Nonetheless, compared with the other tech giants (save Amazon, which has its own profitability problems), Facebook is not much of a money machine. It isn't even within an order of magnitude of old-school companies like Microsoft or Oracle, let alone Apple.

But hey, it's young. And detailed data on all of our lives has got to be worth something, right? Right? And the good news is that for the full year 2012, Facebook generated $13.58 in revenue per user in its most developed markets, the US and Canada. That's up more than $2 over 2011 and $4 over 2010.

Update: Facebook would also probably like me to note that if you don't follow the GAAP method and use Facebook's own accounting, they made $426 million for the quarter, which is considerably more money than $64 million. Then again, there's a reason they're called Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. 

Update 2: The chart I originally posted had an egregious error. I used Apple's year income number, not its quarterly one. The trend remained the same but the number was obviously grossly inflated. My apologies, and I'll update the chart as soon as I can.

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science website in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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