After mountains of hype, Facebook has joined the ranks of profitable enterprises, despite an advertising model that Ad Age describes as “nascent.” Mark Zuckerberg announced yesterday that the social site had passed the 300 million registered-user mark and become “cash-flow positive” last quarter. That actually puts it well ahead of schedule—the company had projected profitability for “sometime in 2010.”
That slow-burn prediction was based on Facebook’s shaky revenue streams, which include low-cost display ads, virtual gifts, and a still-in-testing commerce and payments system. Its most reliable income comes from a fixed deal with Microsoft. But thanks to a small staff—it employs one engineer for every million users—and massive user base it’s managed to hit profitability for now: A round of hiring could change that.