Social Networks by Revenue and Employees, Facebook Stands Above All

Facebook HQ
Above: Facebook’s employees hard at work in the open working conditions

As an Industry Analyst my role is to identify trends, market forecasts and publish my findings in research reports. As such, Industry Analysts are different than Financial Analysts, which I’m not. While I cite where I’ve found the data in the comments, I can’t ascertain the accuracy of some of these sometimes 3rd party data sources. Note that the 2012 revenues are reported at a different time from the employee headcount was likely reported (Q1, 2013) The following is not to be considered for investment purposes.

With that caveat behind us, the following analysis takes into consideration the following consumer and public facing consumer social networks.  To see enterprise class and business social business software vendors, see my additional posts on VCs and investing. While many of these startups did not have public available data, I conduct a breakdown of these startups:

Automattic (WordPress), Branch, Digg, Facebook, Foursquare, Gowalla, Groupon, Instagram, LinkedIn, LivingSocial, Pinterest, Reddit, Snapchat, Tumblr, Twitter, Yelp, and Zynga.  Here’s what I found:

2012 Revenue Per Employee
Comparing both revenue per employee, rate, we found some amazing efficiencies, in particular with Facebook, Zynga, and WordPress. Here’s a data table comparing the 2012 reported revenue over employee headcount, found from online public data.

Company 2012 Reported Revenues Employees Revenue Per Employee
Facebook $5,089,000,000 4,619 $1,101,753
Zynga $1,281,267,000 2,916 $439,391
Twitter $350,000,000 900 $388,888
Automattic (WordPress) $45,000,000 150 $300,000
LinkedIn $972,309,000 3,458 $281,176
Groupon $2,330,000,000 10,000 $233,000
LivingSocial $536,000,000 4,500 $119,111
Yelp $137,600,000 1,214 $113,344
Tumblr $13,000,000 151 $86,092
Foursquare $2,000,000 100 $20,000
Nasdaq 100: See how other companies fare Varies Varies Varies

Update: There are many comments coming in about Foursquare revenue, please see comment section, there is additional insights on fundraising, and their focus.

Facebook shows highest revenue per employee
As reported by public available data, Automattic, Zynga, Twitter, and Facebook are all making over $300k per employee, with tech salaries often ranging in 100k range, with additional costs, 300k is a benchmark number for revenue per employee that I often look for. For comparison, Facebook is pushing over $1m per employee, compared to Google (50b revenue for 53k reported employees) is about the same, at $946k per employee.  While WordPress team has a modest $45m their internal revenue per employee stands toe to toe with the big dogs.

Overall industry revenues in billions of dollars
Of these consumer social network, only eight had publically available revenue run rates for 2013, on average, they’re forecasting $3.7b. In total, they’re estimating revenues of $8.3b.  Last year, in 2012, ten of the consumer social network sites had publicly available revenues, which amount of $10.7 billion global revenues, averaged across the ten is $1.7b.

Some social networks boast rapid climb in revenues
These startups saw a rapid climb in revenues, on average these companies started in 2006, just seven years ago.  There were some startling accelerations in revenues, with Facebook achieving $5b in revenues in 8 years, reported by 2012 public revenues. While under business model scrutiny and executive change-up, Groupon started in 2008 and achieved $2.3b in revenues in four years reported in 2012.  Even with this acceleration, Facebook is still far behind Google, which boasts revenues of $50b in 13 years since inception.

Not all startups created equal, some have modest revenues
Many companies are no where near the $1b annual mark, in fact, several players are not on a growth trajectory.  Of the lower revenue performers of the group includes: Foursquare, (a low yield of $2m in revenues 2012), Tumblr blogging software ($13m revenues in 2012), and long time Automattic, the makers of WordPress ($45m revenues in 2012).

Industry workforce, over 28k professionals
We can’t look at revenues alone, as these numbers don’t take costs into accounts, and found that LivingSocial employs 4,500, and surprisingly, Groupon employs a whopping 10,000 employees.  All together, across these 17 consumer social networks, they employed 28,177 professionals.   Obviously, this number doesn’t take into account 3rd party software like social media management systems (SMMS) and digital agencies, consultants, and of course, industry analyst firms.

Coming Soon: Who made returns? Meet the VCs and Investors of the Consumer Social Networks

 
(creative commons usage of image by Jakob Steinschaden)