Flush With Investor Cash, Facebook Gains on Search Giants

Goldman Sachs’s eyebrow-raising $500 million investment in Facebook appears to be supported by a new JP Morgan report, which includes comScore data. The report revealed that 70 percent of U.S. Internet users had logged onto the Palo Alto, CA-based social site from August through October – up from 48 percent during the same months in 2009.

That huge gain appears to have stunted growth for Google and Yahoo. Google saw only a lift of 2 percentage points year-over-year for the three-month period, going from a share of 79 percent of all Internet users to 81 percent. Yahoo’s results were marginally better, as it went from 79 percent to 84 percent for the same period.

U.S. Internet users are also spending a higher percentage of their total time on Facebook when compared to Yahoo and Google. The social networking site doubled its time-spent market share from August to October year-over-year, rising from 5 percent to 10 percent. Yahoo fell by three percentage points – from 12 percent to 9 percent – and Google remained at 4 percent.

JP Morgan did not respond to information requests from ClickZ today. But charts posted by AllThingsD listed the financial firm and comScore as sources for the data. In an e-mail exchange, a comScore rep suggested to ClickZ that JP Morgan was drawing from comScore’s Internet data available only to its subscribers.

Meanwhile, the report also shows that Facebook made gains on Google in October as a traffic referral site when it comes to Amazon, eBay, and NYTimes.com. Though Google’s referrals fell ever so slightly to all three sites, it still held a sizable advantage over Facebook. For instance, Google accounted for 19.6 percent of Amazon traffic during October – a decrease from 20 percent during the same month for 2009. Facebook for the same period improved traffic referrals to Amazon, increasing from 1.8 percent to 7.7 percent.

Indeed, such numbers suggest Goldman Sachs’s hefty investment could be on solid ground. The $500 million figure puts Facebook’s valuation at $50 billion.

At any rate, Michael Lazerow, CEO of Buddy Media, said the new money achieves two primary objectives for Facebook. “First, it gives them cash to continue to grow the business rapidly,” he said. “Second, it provides a commitment to buy additional shares from current shareholders of the business. This is important to provide liquidity to existing shareholders, including employees, without adding additional names to the capitalization table.”

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