Mark Zuckerberg - biography
Mark Elliot "Zuck" Zuckerberg (born May 14, 1984) is an American entrepreneur who co-founded the social networking site Facebook. Zuckerberg co-founded Facebook with fellow classmates Dustin Moskovitz, Eduardo Saverin, and Chris Hughes while attending Harvard. As of 2010, he was a 24% shareholder of Facebook.
Zuckerberg was born in White Plains, New York to Karen, a psychiatrist, and Edward, a dentist. Mark and three sisters, Randi, Donna, and Arielle, were brought up in Dobbs Ferry, New York. Zuckerberg was raised Jewish, including becoming a Bar Mitzvah (the theme of the celebration was Star Wars) as a child; however, he considers himself an atheist.
Zuckerberg started programming when he was in middle school. His father taught him Atari BASIC Programming in the 1990s, and then software developer David Newman was hired as his tutor in about 1995. Zuckerberg also took a graduate course in the subject at Mercy College near his home in the mid-1990s. He enjoyed developing computer programs, especially communication tools and games. He also designed and programmed a computer application system to help the workers in his father's office communicate; he built a version of the game Risk.
At Ardsley High School he had excelled in the classics before in his junior year transferring to Phillips Exeter Academy, where Zuckerberg won prizes in science (math, astronomy and physics) and Classical studies (on his college application, Zuckeberg listed as non-English languages he could read and write: French, Hebrew, Latin, and ancient Greek) and was captain of the fencing team. During Zuckerberg's high school years, under the company name Intelligent Media Group, he built a music player named the Synapse Media Player that used artificial intelligence to learn the user's listening habits, which was posted to Slashdot and received a rating of 3 out of 5 from PC Magazine. Microsoft and AOL tried to purchase Synapse and recruit Zuckerberg, but he instead went to Harvard College in September 2002 where he studied computer science and joined Alpha Epsilon Pi, a Jewish fraternity. In college, he was known for reciting lines from epic poems such as The Iliad.
At a fraternity party during his sophomore year, Zuckerberg met Priscilla Chan, who subsequently became his girlfriend. In September 2010, Chan, now a medical student, moved into Zuckerberg's rented Palo Alto house. As of September 2010, Zuckerberg was studying Mandarin with a tutor in preparation for the couple's slated visit to China and possibly to help in setting up operations in China, since Facebook, like Twitter, is blocked by that country's internet firewall.
In 2010, Stephen Levy, who authored the 1984 book Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution, wrote that Zuckerberg "clearly thinks of himself as a hacker." Zuckerberg said that "it's OK to break things" "to make them better." Facebook instituted "hackathons" held every six to eight weeks where participants would have one night to conceive of and complete a project. The company provided music, food, and beer at the hackathons, and many Facebook staff members, including Zuckerberg, regularly attended. "The idea is that you can build something really good in a night,” Zuckerberg told Levy. "And that’s part of the personality of Facebook now ... It’s definitely very core to my personality."
On Zuckerberg's Facebook page, he listed his personal interests as "openness, making things that help people connect and share what's important to them, revolutions, information flow, minimalism."
Vanity Fair magazine named Zuckerberg number 1 on its 2010 list of the Top 100 "most influential people of the Information Age". Zuckerberg ranked number 23 on the Vanity Fair 100 list in 2009. In 2010, Zuckerberg was chosen as number 16 in New Statesman's annual survey of the world's 50 most influential figures.
Zuckerberg sees blue best because of red–green colorblindness; blue is also Facebook's dominant color.
Zuckerberg launched Facebook from his Harvard dormitory room on February 4, 2004. An earlier inspiration for Facebook may have come from Phillips Exeter Academy, the private high school from which Zuckerberg graduated in 2002. It published its own student directory, "The Photo Address Book", but which students referred to as "The Facebook". Such photo directories were an important part of the student social experience at many private schools. With them, students were able to list attributes such as their class years, their proximities to friends, and their telephone numbers.
Once at college, Zuckerberg's Facebook started off as just a "Harvard thing" until Zuckerberg decided to spread it to other schools, enlisting the help of roommate Dustin Moskovitz. They first started it at Stanford, Dartmouth, Columbia, New York University, Cornell, Brown, and Yale, and then at other schools that had social contacts with Harvard.
Zuckerberg moved to Palo Alto, California, with Moskovitz and some friends. They leased a small house that served as an office. Over the summer, Zuckerberg met Peter Thiel who invested in the company. They got their first office in mid-2004. According to Zuckerberg, the group planned to return to Harvard but eventually decided to remain in California. They had already turned down offers by major corporations to buy out Facebook. In an interview in 2007, Zuckerberg explained his reasoning: It's not because of the amount of money. For me and my colleagues, the most important thing is that we create an open information flow for people. Having media corporations owned by conglomerates is just not an attractive idea to me.
He restated these same goals to Wired magazine in 2010: "The thing I really care about is the mission, making the world open." Earlier, in April 2009, Zuckerberg sought the advice of former Netscape CFO Peter Currie about financing strategies for Facebook.
On July 21, 2010, Zuckerberg reported that the company reached the 500 million-user mark. When asked whether Facebook could earn more income from advertising as a result of its phenomenal growth, he explained:
I guess we could ... If you look at how much of our page is taken up with ads compared to the average search query. The average for us is a little less than 10 percent of the pages and the average for search is about 20 percent taken up with ads ... That’s the simplest thing we could do. But we aren’t like that. We make enough money. Right, I mean, we are keeping things running; we are growing at the rate we want to.
A month after Facebook launched in February 2004, i2hub, another campus-only service, created by Wayne Chang, was launched. i2hub focused on peer-to-peer file sharing. At the time, both i2hub and Facebook were gaining the attention of the press and growing rapidly in users and publicity. In August 2004, Zuckerberg, Andrew McCollum, Adam D'Angelo, and Sean Parker launched a competing peer-to-peer file sharing service called Wirehog. It was a precursor to Facebook Platform applications. Traction was low compared to i2hub, and Facebook ultimately shut Wirehog down the following summer.
Platform and Beacon
On May 24, 2007, Zuckerberg announced Facebook Platform, a development platform for programmers to create social applications within Facebook. Within weeks, many applications had been built and some already had millions of users. It grew to more than 800,000 developers around the world building applications for Facebook Platform. On July 23, 2008, Zuckerberg announced Facebook Connect, a version of Facebook Platform for users.
On November 6, 2007, Zuckerberg announced a new social advertising system called Beacon, which enabled people to share information with their Facebook friends based on their browsing activities on other sites. For example, eBay sellers could let friends know automatically what they have for sale via the Facebook news feed as they list items for sale. The program came under scrutiny because of privacy concerns from groups and individual users. Zuckerberg and Facebook failed to respond to the concerns quickly, and on December 5, 2007, Zuckerberg wrote a blog post on Facebook taking responsibility for the concerns about Beacon and offering an easier way for users to opt out of the service.
Harvard students Cameron Winklevoss, Tyler Winklevoss, and Divya Narendra accused Zuckerberg of intentionally making them believe he would help them build a social network called HarvardConnection.com (later called ConnectU). They filed a lawsuit in 2004 but it was dismissed on a technicality on March 28, 2007. It was refiled soon thereafter in federal court in Boston, and a hearing was scheduled for July 25, 2007, to address Zuckerberg's motion to dismiss. At the hearing the judge told ConnectU that parts of the complaint were deficient and gave them leave to file an amended complaint. Facebook countersued in regards to Social Butterfly, a project put out by The Winklevoss Chang Group, an alleged partnership between ConnectU and i2hub. It named among the defendants ConnectU, Cameron Winklevoss, Tyler Winklevoss, Divya Narendra, and Wayne Chang, founder of i2hub. The parties reached a confidential settlement agreement in February 2008. On June 25, 2008, the case settled and Facebook agreed to transfer over 1.2 million common shares and pay $20 million in cash. In May 2010, it was reported that the ConnectU founders were accusing Zuckerberg of securities fraud for misrepresenting the value of the shares. The founders were under the impression they were worth $45 million. However, that understanding was based on a valuation of preferred shares, whereas the founders had only received common shares. The effect was that the shares given to the founders as part of the settlement were worth 75% less than Facebook had led them to believe, and the overall cash-and-stock deal worth 50% less. Since the time of the settlement, the stock has been trading for $76 per share on secondary markets, which would put the value of the settlement at $120 million. According to one report, the Winklevoss brothers plan to sue Facebook again based on allegations that Facebook misled them as to the valuation of the settlement.
In November 2007, confidential court documents were posted on the website of 02138, a magazine that catered to Harvard alumni. They included Zuckerberg's social security number, his parents' home address, and his girlfriend's address. Facebook filed to have the documents removed, but the judge ruled in favor of 02138.
Pakistan criminal investigation
In June 2010, Deputy Attorney General Muhammad Azhar Sidiqque of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan launched a criminal investigation into Zuckerberg and Facebook co-founders Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes after a "Draw Muhammad" contest was hosted on Facebook. The investigation also named the anonymous German woman who created the contest. Sidiqque asked the country's police to contact Interpol to have Zuckerberg and the three others arrested for blasphemy. On May 19, 2010, Facebook's website was temporarily blocked in Pakistan until Facebook removed the contest from its website at the end of May. Sidiqque also asked its United Nations representative to raise the issue with the United Nations General Assembly. No formal charges have been filed against Zuckerberg.
On June 30, 2010, Paul Ceglia, the owner of a wood pellet fuel company in Allegany County, New York, filed a lawsuit against Zuckerberg, claiming 84% ownership of Facebook and seeking monetary damages. According to Ceglia, he and Zuckerberg signed a contract on April 28, 2003 that for an initial fee of $1,000 entitled Ceglia to 50% of the website's revenue, as well as an additional 1% interest in the business per day after January 1, 2004, until website completion. Zuckerberg was developing other projects at the time, among which was Facemash, the predecessor of Facebook, but did not register the domain name thefacebook.com until January 1, 2004. Facebook management dismissed the lawsuit as "completely frivolous". Facebook spokesman Barry Schnitt told a reporter that Ceglia's counsel had unsuccessfully attempted to seek an out-of-court settlement. In an interview with ABC World News, Zuckerberg stated he was confident of never signing such an agreement. At the time, Zuckerberg worked for Ceglia as a code developer on a project named "StreetFax". Judge Thomas Brown issued a restraining order on all financial transfers concerning ownership of Facebook until further notice; in response, Facebook removed the case to federal court and asked that the state court injunction be dissolved. According to Facebook, the injunction would not affect their business but lacked any legal basis.
Depictions in media
The Social Network
A movie based on Zuckerberg and the founding years of Facebook, called The Social Network, was released on October 1, 2010, and stars Jesse Eisenberg as Zuckerberg. After Zuckerberg was told about the film, he responded, "I just wished that nobody made a movie of me while I was still alive." Also, after the film's script was leaked on the Internet and it was apparent that the film would not portray Zuckerberg in a wholly positive light, he stated that he wanted to establish himself as a "good guy".
The Social Network is based on the book The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich, which the book's publicist once described as "big juicy fun" rather than "reportage." The film's screenwriter Aaron Sorkin told New York magazine, "I don’t want my fidelity to be to the truth; I want it to be to storytelling," adding, "What is the big deal about accuracy purely for accuracy’s sake, and can we not have the true be the enemy of the good?"
According to Sorkin's script, Zuckerberg created Facebook to elevate his stature after not getting into any of the elite final clubs at Harvard. Yet Zuckerberg told The New Yorker he had no interest in joining the final clubs.
Zuckerberg plays himself in an episode of The Simpsons, "Loan-a Lisa", which originally aired on October 3, 2010. In the episode, Lisa Simpson and her friend Nelson encounter Zuckerberg at an entrepreneurs' convention. Zuckerberg tells Lisa that you don't need to graduate from college to be wildly successful referencing Bill Gates and Richard Branson as examples.
On October 9, 2010, Saturday Night Live lampooned Zuckerberg and Facebook. Andy Samberg played Zuckerberg. The real Zuckerberg was reported to have been amused: "I thought this was funny."
Stephen Colbert awarded a "Medal of Fear" to Zuckerberg at the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear on October 30, 2010, "because he values his privacy much more than he values yours."
Zuckerberg authorized an account of his and Facebook's life written by David Kirkpatrick, the former technology editor at Fortune magazine, which came out in 2010, entitled The Facebook Effect.
Zuckerberg donated an undisclosed amount to Diaspora which is an open-source personal web server that implements a distributed social networking service. He called it a "cool idea."
Zuckerberg founded the Start-up: Education foundation. On September 22, 2010, it was reported that Zuckerberg had arranged to donate $100 million to Newark Public Schools, the public school system of Newark, New Jersey. Critics noted the timing of the donation as being close to the release of The Social Network, a film that paints a somewhat negative portrait of Zuckerberg. Zuckerberg responded to the criticism, saying, "The thing that I was most sensitive about with the movie timing was, I didn’t want the press about 'The Social Network' movie to get conflated with the Newark project. I was thinking about doing this anonymously just so that the two things could be kept separate." Newark Mayor Cory A. Booker stated that he and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie had to convince Zuckerberg's team not to make the donation anonymously.