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Facebook Turns 12, Eyes 5 Billion Users by 2030

By Andrew Tonner - Feb 10, 2016 at 7:41PM

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Facebook just disclosed perhaps its most audacious growth target ever.

Source: Facebook.

As anniversaries go, Facebook (META 2.03%) and CEO Mark Zuckerberg know how to celebrate in style.

The social media giant's soaring profits have translated to a surging share price, and the timing couldn't have been more fitting. Only one day before its 12th birthday -- the website launched Feb. 4, 2004 -- Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg saw his personal net worth soar to $50 billion thanks to the rising value of his Facebook stock, good for fourth on the list of richest people in the world. That's roughly $1.6 billion earned for every year he's been alive.

However, Facebook and its founder aren't resting on their laurels, as its long-term plans prove.

Still hungry after all these years
According to USA TODAY, Facebook's core management team has elaborated on its long-term growth plans, including an internal target to reach a jaw-dropping 5 billion registered users by 2030. In its recent earnings report, Facebook reported having 1.6 billion monthly active users.

Getting its registered user number to 5 billion will be no easy feat. The United Nations' International Telecommunications Union estimated that the number of people worldwide with Internet access climbed passed 3.2 billion in 2015, so getting to 5 billion users will not only require Facebook to claim every Internet user worldwide but also to also develop pathways to connect the rest of the world. To do so, Facebook plans to deploy a number of pioneering techniques to expand Internet connectivity to the far reaches of the globe. It also plans to deepen its partnerships with governments and other companies.

Internet-beaming drone. Image source: Facebook's

Investing in the future
I think it's best to avoid specific financial analysis in dealing with any multidecade initiative. At the same time, though, that doesn't mean the news of Facebook's next great growth plan doesn't contain insights for investors.

For starters, expanding its core service by such a massive degree would lead to huge financial rewards for Facebook and its investors, though any more concrete financial analysis probably falls on its face. I also think this  demonstrates a unique visionary trait that demonstrates why Facebook is a company likely to stand the test of time.

Few companies are able to both conceive of and execute on these kinds of sweeping objectives, but the ones that do tend to produce compelling returns for their shareholders. If you find a company that can do so more than once, that's the hallmark of a multibagger investment. scaled e-commerce to heights few probably thought possible in the late 1990s -- one-hour delivery? -- but it also helped usher in the dawn of cloud computing. Alphabet created the first great search engine and then pivoted to become the world's largest operating-system provider by number of connected devices. Apple helped commercialize PCs, digital music players, smartphones, and tablets. For Facebook, its plans to multiply its social network to previously unimagined levels, plus its booming communications and virtual-reality businesses, place it squarely in this elite company.

The unifying theme here is that, without even considering the specific business models at work, the companies that have had the vision and ability to create and scale numerous businesses tend to also produce equally impressive returns for their shareholders. Sure, we're dealing in part with anecdotes, but as it looks to continue to push the boundaries of technology and connectedness, Facebook has shown again why it's a special company poised to thrive for years to come.

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Meta Platforms, Inc. Stock Quote
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