for-phone-onlyfor-tablet-portrait-upfor-tablet-landscape-upfor-desktop-upfor-wide-desktop-up

Facebook says it's free cash flow positive

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Facebook said the company has become free cash flow positive ahead of schedule and that the world’s largest social networking site now has 300 million users.

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, delivers a keynote address at the company's annual conference in San Francisco, California July 23, 2008 file photo. REUTERS/Kimberly White

The milestone means that Facebook is now generating enough cash to cover its operating expenses as well as the capital spending to maintain the technology powering its fast-growing service.

Analysts said this shows the financial viability of Facebook, which has faced questions about its underlying business model, despite its popularity.

“It’s certainly meaningful to show that this is absolutely the real deal,” said Broadpoint Amtech analyst Ben Schachter. “They are executing. People are spending money on the site.”

Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said in a blog post on the company site on Tuesday that Facebook reached its goal of being free cash flow positive in its most recently ended quarter. The company had previously projected reaching the target sometime in 2010.

“This is important to us because it sets Facebook up to be a strong independent service for the long term,” said Zuckerberg in the blog post.

Facebook spokesperson Larry Yu said the free cash flow metric does not include any cash from private investment.

In May, Facebook announced a $200 million investment from Russian investment firm Digital Sky Technologies in a deal that valued the company’s preferred shares at $10 billion.

DST valued Facebook’s common shares at $6.5 billion in a subsequent deal to purchase shares from Facebook employees.

Facebook did not provide any other financial details on Tuesday. The company has previously said its revenue was on track to grow 70 percent this year.

Facebook board member Mark Andreesen told Reuters earlier this year that the company will surpass $500 million in revenue this year.

Zuckerberg said in his post that the company is exploring ways to make the service perform faster and more efficiently as the number of Facebook users continues to grow.

Reporting by Alexei Oreskovic; Editing by Gary Hill and Richard Chang

for-phone-onlyfor-tablet-portrait-upfor-tablet-landscape-upfor-desktop-upfor-wide-desktop-up