November 28, 2020

Bits Blog: Facebook Tops 1 Billion Active Users

Facebook said Thursday that it had passed one billion active users.Craig Ruttle/Associated Press Facebook said Thursday that it had passed one billion active users.

10:28 a.m. | Updated Adding information on user activity and demographics.

A million users isn’t cool. You know what’s cool? A billion users.

Facebook on Thursday announced that it had topped one billion active users, meaning users who visited the site within a month. Although a few companies can claim to have had more than a billion customers, Facebook is the first social network to hit that number.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive and founder, made the announcement in a blog post on the company’s Web site.

“If you’re reading this: thank you for giving me and my little team the honor of serving you,” Mr. Zuckerberg wrote. “Helping a billion people connect is amazing, humbling and by far the thing I am most proud of in my life.”

In an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, Mr. Zuckerberg said the company celebrated the milestone by watching a countdown clock in its offices.

“Well, just everyone came together and counted down,” he told the magazine. “Then we all went back to work. We have this ethos where we want to be a culture of builders, right?”

Facebook shared some information on what its billion users have been doing on the site. People have used the “Like” button more than 1.1 trillion times since it was added in February 2009. There have been more than 140 billion friend connections. And since the fall of 2005, nearly 220 billion photos have been uploaded to the site. Facebook also said it has 600 million mobile users.

For advertisers, those numbers might seem less important than the median age of Facebook’s one billion users who joined in the past week: 22. That is a prime market for advertisers and marketers. And those users are getting younger. Facebook said in 2008 that the median age was 26.

The Facebook story has been one for the ages: A Harvard University dropout who started a multibillion-dollar company in his dorm room that eventually became the largest social network on the planet. But the story has also had its share of troubles too.

Mr. Zuckerberg has been dragged through legal suits over the ownership and idea of Facebook. The company has also dealt with dozens of privacy issues and run-ins with the Federal Trade Commission.

One billion users might be more than just a nice badge to stick on the fridge. After Facebook’s lackluster initial public offering, showing that the company is still growing might help to lift Wall Street’s confidence in the company.

Mr. Zuckerberg concluded his announcement by saying, “I am committed to working every day to make Facebook better for you, and hopefully together one day we will be able to connect the rest of the world too.”

That leaves only six billion to go.

Article source: http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/04/facebook-passes-1-billion-active-users/?partner=rss&emc=rss

DealBook: A Tangle of Details Emerge in an Insider Trading Case

Federal District Court in Lower Manhattan.Craig Ruttle/Associated PressFederal District Court in Manhattan.

6:40 p.m. | Updated

The dark side of Wall Street’s expert network industry was on full display in Federal District Court in Manhattan on Friday.

A former executive at Nvidia admitted to leaking information about the semiconductor company’s financial results as part of an insider-trading ring involving an expert network firm — consultants who connect money managers with public company employees.

Sonny Nguyen, 39, told a judge that he participated in an illegal scheme to supply Winifred Jiau, a consultant at the expert network firm Primary Global Research, and another person with secret information about Nvidia’s quarterly earnings in 2007-8. He faces up to five years in prison.

A few hours later, Sam Barai, who ran the hedge fund Barai Capital Management, pleaded guilty to trading on secret corporate information provided to him by Ms. Jiau about stocks including Nvidia. He also pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice, and faces up to 25 years in prison.

Ms. Jiau, who has pleaded not guilty to insider trading crimes, is scheduled to go on trial on June 1. Mr. Nguyen is expected to testify in the case. Mr. Barai has also been cooperating with the government.

Evan Barr, a lawyer for Mr. Barai, declined to comment. A lawyer for Mr. Nguyen did not return a request for comment.

The pipeline of illicit information about Nvidia, moving from an employee at the company to a consultant to a hedge fund manager, is illustrative of the criminal activity that the government has sought to root out at expert network firms.

The government has criminally charged 13 people connected to these firms, including Ms. Jiau, who is accused of knowingly facilitating the passing of inside information. Of the 13 charged, eight have pleaded guilty.

At a news conference earlier this year, Preet S. Bharara, the United States attorney in Manhattan who has led the government’s investigation, lambasted the expert network business.

“Given the scope of the allegations to date, we are not talking simply about the occasional corrupt individual,” said Mr. Bharara. “We are talking about something verging on a corrupt business model.”

The expert network business developed over the last decade alongside the explosive growth of hedge funds, which have used the firms to supplement traditional Wall Street research and gain an investment edge. The insider trading cases have hurt expert network firms as a number of prominent hedge fund managers have stopped using them.

Primary Global, the firm that employed Ms. Jiau, has been hit hardest by the government’s investigation. At least seven people connected to Primary Global, a California firm started by two former Intel executives, have been charged with insider trading-related crimes.

Mr. Barai, a 39-year-old former Citigroup executive, was a client of Primary Global. In February the government charged him with swapping illegal stock tips sourced by Ms. Jiau with two portfolio managers at SAC Capital, the hedge fund run by the billionaire investor Steven A. Cohen.

After reading news reports about the government’s investigation last November, Mr. Barai instructed one of his colleagues to destroy his BlackBerry Messenger communications and erase incriminating data from his laptop computer.

The two SAC managers, Noah Freeman and Donald Longueuil, have already pleaded guilty. A fourth person connected to the case, Jason Pflaum, an employee of Mr. Barai’s, also pleaded guilty.

The inquiry has reached to the top of SAC, one of the world’s most influential hedge funds and a big user of expert network firms. Federal prosecutors are examining trades in an account run by Mr. Cohen that were suggested by Mr. Freeman and Mr. Longueuil.

Neither SAC nor Mr. Cohen has been accused of any criminal wrongdoing and the firm is cooperating with the government’s investigation.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=6b3d7ae877dd4a6835253ba2bd7a10d5