Facebook's May 18, 2012, IPO, which valued the company at a whopping $104 billion, was more than just a stock offering -- it grew into a cultural and financial phenomenon.
But as launches go, this one was a misfire. A software glitch at Nasdaq delayed the IPO by 30 minutes. Worse, investor demand underwhelmed. After pricing at $38, Facebook shares barely got off the ground to close at $38.23. The biggest, baddest IPO since Google's 2004 offering was officially a dud.
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Facebook beat Wall Street forecasts in its first earnings report as a public company on July 26, 2012, bringing in a respectable $1.18 billion in revenue, up 32 percent from the year-ago period.
But investors were unimpressed. Shares, which had steadily lost ground since the IPO two months earlier, fell to roughly $24. Even more worrisome, Facebook's formerly startling growth rate was tapering off. Pundits and analysts once enamored of the social networking firm started to question its growth prospects.
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Friend me, maybe
Perhaps Facebook's greatest operational and financial challenge in its first year has been adapting to the burgeoning mobile world, as people shift from desktop computers to smartphones and tablets.
It hasn't been easy. Facebook Home, the company's software apps for Android phones, fizzled. Consumer reviews were brutal, and phones equipped with Home were quickly consigned to the bargain bin.
On the business front, Facebook struggled with a problem that other social media -- and old media -- companies are grappling with: How to make money from mobile, a challenging medium for serving ads.
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Building the social graph
Hoping to soup up its functionality while boosting growth, Facebook in January introduced Graph Search, a new feature that allows users to find content that people have shared or made public. CEO Mark Zuckerberg dubbed Graph Search a "third pillar," touting it as more powerful way for people to share content than conventional search.
Yet only four months after Graph Search rolled out, relatively few Facebook users have access to it. Brian Blau, research director of consumer technologies at Gartner, recently told CNET that the service is "clearly a miss."
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Despite its rocky debut, in the Internet world Facebook remains a beast. It has 1.1 billion monthly active users and is making progress on mobile, with mobile users now accounting for 30 percent of ad revenue.
If Facebook's first year as a public company was one of transition from hot startup to a growing business, year two will likely revolve around managerial execution. Questions include whether Facebook can match Wall Street's earnings targets, along with whether the company can expand abroad. Other companies, notably Google, are also stepping up their social media efforts. As Facebook's stock price shows, limping along as of Friday at round $26 a share, the jury remains out.