Facebook (formerly [thefacebook]) is an online social networking service headquartered in Menlo Park, California. Its name comes from a colloquialism for the directory given to students at some American universities. Facebook was founded on February 4, 2004, by Mark Zuckerberg with his college roommates and fellow Harvard University students Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes. The founders had initially limited the website's membership to Harvard students, but later expanded it to colleges in the Boston area, the Ivy League, and Stanford University. It gradually added support for students at various other universities and later to their high-school students. Facebook now allows anyone who claims to be at least 13 years old worldwide to become a registered user of the website, although proof is not required.
After registering to use the site, users may create a personal profile, add other users as friends, exchange messages, post status updates and photos, share videos and receive notifications when others update their profiles. Additionally, users may join common-interest user groups, organized by workplace, school or college, or other characteristics, and categorize their friends into lists such as "People From Work" or "Close Friends". Facebook had over 1.3 billion active users as of June 2014. Due to the large volume of data collected about users, the service's privacy policies have faced scrutiny, among other criticisms. Facebook, Inc. held its initial public offering in February 2012 and began selling stock to the public three months later, reaching a peak market capitalization of $104 billion.
In February 2014, Facebook announced that it would be buying mobile messaging company Whatsapp for US$19 billion in cash and stock. In June 2014, Facebook announced the acquisition of Pryte, a Finnish mobile data plan firm that aims to make it easier for mobile phone users in underdeveloped parts of the world to use wireless Internet apps. As part of the company's second quarter results, Facebook announced in late July 2014 that mobile accounted for 62% of its advertising revenue, which is an increase of 21% from the previous year.
At the start of July 2014, Facebook announced the acquisition of LiveRail, a San Francisco, California-based online video advertising company. LiveRail's technology facilitates the sale of video inventory across different devices. The terms of the deal were undisclosed, but TechCrunch reported that Facebook paid between US$400 million and $500 million.