3 Reasons to Like Facebook as a Business

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Facebook’s decision to file for public offering effectively completed the social network’s transition from being a small startup to a true corporate powerhouse, but just because the website is a big business doesn’t mean it behaves like all the other big businesses out there.

Buried in the papers that the company filed Wednesday are several key data points that suggest that Facebook and its CEO aren’t as motivated by profit as many other companies. That may be a red flag for investors who are primarily concerned about profitability, but for the country as a whole, it should serve as a positive example that a public company can be successful and socially responsible at the same time.

Here are a few new reasons to like Facebook as a company:

Pays Taxes in Full

There’s no doubt that Facebook is rolling in dough at the moment, but it could potentially have even more money on hand if took advantage of more tax loopholes. As some have pointed out, the company’s filings show that it paid a corporate income tax of roughly 40% in both 2010 and 2011. Compare that to the many multi-billion dollar businesses that somehow manage to pay less than 5% on average per year in federal taxes. It’s a nice reminder that a business can be profitable and competitive without avoiding paying its fair share back to society.

A CEO Who Doesn’t Care Much About Money

We know, we know. Everyone cares about money on some level, especially someone as cutthroat as Facebook’s founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who stands to make as much as $28 billion if the company’s market cap hits $100 billion. That said, consider two important facts: First, the company revealed in its filing that Zuckerberg will be paid a salary of just $1 a year (plus his share of the company’s stock). More tellingly, Zuckerberg has already signed a pledge organized by Warren Buffet and Bill Gates to give away his fortune to charity.

Products Are More Important Than Revenue

Zuckerberg included a letter in the filing that clearly laid out the company’s mission statement and showed where its priorities lie, one that will likely appeal to many young entrepreneurs today.

“Most great people care primarily about building and being a part of great things, but they also want to make money,” Zuckerberg wrote. “Simply put: we don't build services to make money; we make money to build better services.”

Once again, it’s probably not what investors want to hear, which is part of the reason why it makes us like the company that much more.

To all of this we would add one other fact that certainly isn’t new but is still worth noting: Facebook is an American company in the best sense of the term. It was started in the U.S., has since grown to have a global influence, but continues to create thousands of jobs at home – more than 200,000 jobs to be exact. In some ways, Facebook really is the polar opposite of a tech company like Apple, which is beloved for its products but occasionally criticized for its business practices. Facebook’s product – the social network – is criticized at times for its various privacy policy and design changes, but the company’s business practices deserve more fans.

Seth Fiegerman is a staff reporter for MainStreet. You can reach him by e-mail at seth.fiegerma@thestreet.com, or follow him on Twitter @sfiegerman.

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