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Facebook Gaining Ground on Google

Stocks in this article: GOOG YHOO AOL

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Google (GOOG) and Facebook are more than two competitors trying to de-throne each other in the battle for market share. They represent diametrically different business models -- search vs. social media. But the two are already in conflict on several fronts.

According to Nielson, Google reached 170 million unique U.S. visitors in September 2011, while Facebook rang in at 155.1 million during the same month. Latest reported statistics show that Google reached a billion unique visitors worldwide, while Facebook had about 800 million.

Seeing the writing on the wall, in July, Google launched its own version of Facebook, Google+, a social networking platform. Since launch, however, Google+ has declined for five consecutive months in referral traffic, despite its 260-million Gmail users, and has seen its share of referral traffic decreasing by 82%.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

The rivalry will likely increase from here. Let's take a look at the profiles of these two companies currently.

Workforce: Facebook currently employs over 3,000 people, whereas Google has 24,400 full-time employees -- 9,508 engaged in research and development, 8,778 in sales and marketing, 3,346 in general and administrative, and 2,768 in operations. Google is bigger, by far, but Facebook, still a very young company, is growing faster.


Google has a market cap of $200 billion and is close to passing Microsoft's market cap of $215 billion. For the third quarter of 2011, Google reported revenue of $9.72 billion, an increase of 33% from the same quarter prior year.

Facebook will generate $4.27 billion in revenue this year, more than double the $2 billion made in 2010 and may reach a high of $6.9 billion in 2012. Its display ad revenues are estimated at $3.8 billion for the year, up 104% according to eMarketer. Currently, Facebook has a display ads market share of 17.7%, vs. 13.1% of Yahoo (YHOO), Google's 9.3% and AOL's (AOL) 4.9%.

IPO : Facebook is planning a $10 billion initial public offering (IPO) in the second quarter of 2012, which could be the most valuable IPO ever by an Internet or tech company. Google, on the other hand, raised $1.7 billion through its IPO in 2004.

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