Your guide to the world's richest social media companies and how they got that way. 

Your guide to the world's richest social media companies and how they got that way.


  • Purchase Price: $1 billion
  • Users in 2010: 25,000
  • Users in 2014: 150 million

The deal that turned the world of acquisitions upside down and gave it a courtesy kick to the balls came in April 2012 when Facebook dropped a whopping $1 billion ($300 cash and the rest in Facebook stock) to outbid Twitter and purchase the 2-year-old photo-sharing app, Instagram. Considering, at the time, Instagram had yet to generate a penny in revenue, founder Kevin Systrom jumped into the lap of Mark Zuckerberg like a crack whore into a customer’s pick-up truck — after all he did own 40 percent of the company. You do the math. As for Twitter, it didn’t walk too far with its tail between its legs. The social media giant picked itself up, dusted itself off and took its wads of cash over to New York to purchase a small app by the name of Vine.


  • Purchase Price: $970 million
  • Users 2012: 0
  • Users in 2014: 40 million

Less than a year after Zuck and Instagram excluded Twitter from the tummy-swords party, Jack Dorsey and Twitter turned around and flew to New York where it dropped a reported $970 million on a little-known video-sharing app called Vine. The purchase allowed the three founders of the app to lay claim to a third each of the multi-million-dollar payout — not bad for a company founded in June 2012 and bought five months later by Twitter in October 2012. Like all great business acquisitions, Vine at the time had total revenue less than the balance of your checking account and a user base of zero. Yes, Twitter bought the app before it even debuted. After launching in January 2013, Vine rocketed to the top, becoming the most-downloaded free app in the Apple app store by April 2013. It turns out, your delinquent, talentless video clips can generate money — just not for you.


  • Value: $3.8 Billion
  • Users 2012: 11.7 million
  • Users 2014: 70 million

Pinning is winning … for the founders that is. Pinterest launched in 2009 as the brainchild of Ben Silbermann and partners as a means to share projects and interests. Since then, the social media site has ballooned into an epicenter of Y-chromosome deficient users — Pinterest users are 79 percent female — creating and sharing, and it’s a hotbed for investors. A recent round of funding valued the company at $3.8 billion even though the social media site has yet to generate any type of revenue. As the site looks to grow into 46 countries in the next year, Silbermann and friends should stand to pocket a hefty check as soon as they decipher the method of extracting money from your pinning interests.


  • Value: $2 billion
  • Users in 2011: 127
  • Users in 2013: 50 million

Unlike Kevin Systrom of Instagram, 23-year-old SnapChat founder Evan Spiegel didn’t fall for Mark Zuckerberg’s sweet talk, Champagne flutes and back rubs as the Facebook CEO offered to purchase SnapChat for an estimated $3 billion. And with zero dollars in revenue, whether or not that comes back to bite Spiegel in the ass is another question. Recent $50 million investments valuing the company at $2 billion say Spiegel made the right decision. For a 3-year-old company founded at a frat house, users have flocked to SnapChat like moths to a flame — we suspect mainly behind the motivation of sending naked photos without the burden of having the photos saved. So remember, next time you strip down and snap a quickie, Evan Spiegel says thank you.


  • Value: $4 billion
  • Users in 2010: 10 million
  • Users in 2013: 24 million

Music sounds much better when it’s accompanied with stacks of cold hard cash — we’re assuming. During Christmas time last year, Spotify founder Daniel Ek received an early holiday present of funding for the 6-year-old company valuing it at $4 billion, although the music sharing site has yet to generate a profit. Investors don’t care. With digital music sales expected to grow 7.5 percent annually, forming a $12.2-billion industry by 2016, profit or not, Spotify can do no wrong. While Pandora still manages to out-do Spotify in almost every category, Daniel Ek can rest assured knowing each time you sit back and engage in a baby-making playlist, he can sit back and check his bank account.