This February 25, 2013 photo taken in Washington, DC, shows the splash page for the Internet social media giant Facebook.
More than a year after their rocky debut, Facebook shares traded above their $38 initial public offering price in early trading Wednesday.
Why are the shares taking off?
1. Mobile Games Publishing, a program Facebook announced Monday that will help small and midsize developers distribute their games.
Though just a pilot program, Mobile Games illustrates steps Facebook is taking to generate revenue from areas outside advertising. Taking a cut of partners' gaming revenue, the company will deliver targeted ads, analytics tools and the ability to work with Facebook's gaming department.
In its blog announcing the news, Facebook said, "We are invested in the success of these games, and in exchange for a revenue share, we will be collaborating deeply with developers in our program by helping them attract high-quality long-term players for their games. We'll also be sharing analytics tools and the expertise we've gained from helping games grow on our platform for more than six years."
2. Earnings results weren't just better than expected but show Facebook executing in all the major areas about which Wall Street has been nervous. Revenue growth is accelerating, and the company is generating more money from its mobile users than expected. It also disclosed some impressive numbers on its ad campaigns' return-on-investment.
Perhaps most important, CEO Mark Zuckerberg didn't hesitate to address widespread concerns.
(Read more: Facebook earnings beat; shares jump 20%)
And investors took note of the fact that Facebook's upside surprise stands in sharp contrast to Google's disappointing results, indicating that the former's social and mobile ads are gaining more traction.
3. Analysts have been speculating that Facebook will be added to the S&P 500 index within the next year, which would significantly broaden the company's investor base.
CNBC media and entertainment reporter Julia Boorstin contributed to this report.
First published July 31 2013, 6:15 AM