Investors Add $25M to Facebook’s Coffers

Two billion dollars it’s not, but Facebook.com has snagged $25 million in venture capital investments from three Silicon Valley firms.

After scoring a $13 million cash infusion from venture firm Accel Partners last May, the ubiquitous college and high school social networking website received a combined total of $25 million last week from Greylock Partners, Meritech Capital Partners, and investor Peter Thiel, the co-founder of PayPal.

“This investment supports our goal to build an industry-leading company that will continue to grow and evolve with our users,” Facebook spokesman Chris R. Hughes ’06 wrote in an e-mail. “We’re committed to building the best utility to enable people to share information with each other in a secure and trusted environment.”

Paul S. Madera, Meritech’s managing director, said his firm was impressed by Facebook’s rapid growth and its potential for further expansion in the coveted college-age market.

“They’ve been designated by their community as the chosen community portal,” Madera said. “This is a company that the entire venture community would love to be a part of,” he added.

Facebook is the seventh most-visited site on the Internet, according to web traffic tracker comScore Media Metrix. It has more than 7 million registered users.

The investment announcement comes on the heels of a flurry of speculation earlier this month that Facebook was on the market for $2 billion, and after unconfirmed reports that the Facebook founders turned down a $750 million bid for the site.

Facebook has undergone several content and interface updates over the past two weeks. Yesterday, the site deleted the profile category for Clubs and Jobs and reconfigured the Friends section of user profiles. While one’s friends used to be separated by college, they now all appear in one box.

While some students expressed their displeasure with the changes over House open lists, Hughes said they could be tweaked in response to user feedback.

“When we update the site with new features or reconfigure pre-existing features to make them better, we always do it with the user’s experience first in mind,” Hughes wrote. “Nothing is final at this point.”

Two weeks ago, Facebook also added a mobile feature, which allows users to get profile information, such as cell phone numbers and dorm room addresses, sent to their cell phones using SMS technology.

Hughes said there have been “a ton of sign-ups” for Facebook mobile use, and that the feature will be available at all colleges and high schools on the site “by week’s end.”

Along with cell phone access, Facebook added a small, procrastination-friendly feature which allows users to update their profile to reflect their status at any given moment. One senior was using the feature last night to say he “is considering a blog.” A freshman used it to tell his friends that he is “cold...yet still comfortable.”

—Staff writer Sam Teller can be reached at steller@fas.harvard.edu.