Blog Post

As Facebook Hits 350M Mark, Growth Shows Signs of Slowing

Stay on Top of Enterprise Technology Trends

Get updates impacting your industry from our GigaOm Research Community
Join the Community!

Facebook has crossed the 350 million active user-mark, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced tonight. But while the site’s latest growth spurt is impressive, it took 77 days, as compared to earlier this year when Facebook had added 50 million users in as short a time as 62 days. But it’s still the site’s second-quickest such milestone to date.

A Look Back at Facebook Growth
Dec. 1, 2009: 350 million users (77 days since last benchmark)
Sept. 15, 2009: 300 million users (62 days since last benchmark)
July 15, 2009: 250 million users (98 days since last benchmark)
April 8, 2009: 200 million users (91 days since last benchmark)
Jan. 7, 2009: 150 million users (134 days since last benchmark)
August 26, 2008: 100 million users
Source: Facebook blog posts

Of course, at some point Facebook’s growth has to slow down, unless the company scores a global maternity ward deal. The opportunities for the self-reported cash-flow positive Facebook to expand quickly and easily are petering out. There were only 444 million worldwide broadband subscribers in the second quarter of 2009, according to Point Topic. Hence the increasing value of more accessible products like Facebook’s mobile and “Lite” versions that address markets where broadband still isn’t prevalent.

It’s perhaps fitting that Zuckerberg announced the 350 million milestone alongside the phasing out of the company’s regional network feature. Regional networks were first introduced three years ago as a way to facilitate expansion when Facebook moved from a schools-only service to the general public. The idea was to expose new users’ offline communities to give them a group of local profiles to access within the site. At the time, Facebook had 9.5 million users.

Clearly, things have changed. “[A]s Facebook has grown, some of these regional networks now have millions of members and we’ve concluded that this is no longer the best way for you to control your privacy,” Zuckerberg said in a blog post Tuesday.

Zuckerberg did not say when the feature would be disabled, but said it would affect the nearly 50 percent of Facebook users who have identified themselves as members of regional networks. “In the next couple of weeks” all users will be asked to update their privacy settings. Many users may be happy about new privacy features that include granular item-by-item controls, but then again these updates have a way of confusing and annoying people, especially all those buckets upon buckets of new members.

Please see the disclosure regarding Facebook on my bio page.

12 Responses to “As Facebook Hits 350M Mark, Growth Shows Signs of Slowing”

  1. @ Chris – Yes the growth is nothing short of phenomenal. Probably Facebook themselves could never have imagined what a beast their website would turn into.

    Hats off to them. I wonder how long the honeymoon will last though…

  2. susan j. santier

    Slowing growth is good for facebook not bad. I just finished reading a book called “wired for thought: how the brain is shaping the future of the Internet” where the author goes to great length to show how social networks should not grow beyond a certain point.

    The book predicted Myspace’s demise because it was growing too large for its own good (at the time when most of the media was arguing the opposite–that Myspace wasn’t growing fast enough).

    The book compares the Internet to the brain and the author outlines how the brain (which is really just a large network of neurons) actually stops growing in early childood. Or at least it stops growing in size but that is when it starts growing in connections and intelligence. The author (Jeffrey Stibel) was a GM of the parent company for Stibel basically says that early brains grow rapidly (as fast as myspace and facebook) but then stop. Networks that don’t eventually implode.