Almost everyone in the world, especially the younger generation, has a Facebook account. For some, it has become part of their lives that their days would not be complete without checking their accounts. I’m one of those actually. This social networking site is just so addictive. Maybe because people love to gossip or just want to know what’s hot. Some use it for their business and marketing too and some use it for the main purpose of getting in touch with their friends and relatives. No matter how you use Facebook, the social network king is always able to serve you that very efficiently. But who would have thought that this website was originally created by a young computer programmer right in his college dorm? And because of that, he also became one of the youngest billionaires in the whole world.
His name is Mark Elliot Zuckerberg. Mark is an American computer programmer and Internet entrepreneur born on May 14, 1984 in White Plains, New York State. He is the most popular among the four co-founders of the social networking site Facebook. Being the chairman and chief executive of Facebook, Inc., he is worth $19.1 billion, based on the IPO price of $38 a share back in May this year. But as of Friday, July 27, 2012, Zuckerberg’s stake has plunged to $11.98 billion, losing around $7 billion on his Facebook shares since the company goes public. But we can’t still call Mark as a poor guy with that still almost $12 billion net worth, can we? He will still remain as one of the most successful young entrepreneurs and innovators in our history. His success story as a young entrepreneur will still inspire a lot of people, especially the young ones. So let’s continue with his story.
Zuckerberg was raised Jewish together with his three sisters; Randi, Donna, and Arielle. He fell in love with computer programming at a very young age that his parents; Karen, a psychiatrist, and Edward Zuckerberg, a dentist even got him a private tutor, a software developer David Newman who called him a “prodigy”. While everyone his age was playing with computers, he was already creating games out of some pictures his friends would draw when they are playing. He even built a software program he called “ZuckNet” at the age of 12, which allowed all the computers between their house and his father’s dental office to communicate by pinging each other a year ahead of AOL’s Instant Messenger.
High School days
When Zuckerberg was in high school, he first enrolled at Ardsley High School before he transferred to Phillips Exeter Academy, an exclusive preparatory school in New Hampshire where he proved that he can excel not only in computer programming but with sports and literature as well. Because of his exceptional talent in fencing, he became the captain of the school’s fencing team. He also excelled in literature; and won prizes in science (math, astronomy and physics) and classical studies he can even read and write French, Hebrew, Latin, and ancient Greek. It seems like there is nothing that this guy can’t do. But computer is Zuckerberg’s first love so he continued to work on developing new programs. While he was still in high school, he made a primitive version of the music software Pandora, he called Synapse. These got the interest of some companies including the big ones such as the AOL and Microsoft who intended to buy the software and hire him but he declined to sell it nor accept the job offers.
In 2002, Zuckerberg enrolled at Harvard University majoring in computer science and sociology and by his sophomore year at the Ivy League Institution, he became known as a software developer in the campus.
He invented a program called CourseMatch which helps students in Harvard make class selection decisions basing from the choices made of other students and it likewise help them create a study group for themselves.
After that, he also created another program he originally called Facemash which lets students vote as to who between the two persons looks best in the photos posted. It automatically becomes popular in the campus which affected the internet connection. Because of that the school have to shut it down by Monday. Since then, students in Harvard have been asking for the school to create an internal website that would have same photos and contact details.
Birth of Facebook
Zuckerberg felt the people’s need to have an open communication so in February 4, 2004 he launched Facebook from his Harvard dormitory. It’s like the “Photo Address Book” from Phillips Exeter Academy, which publishes its own student’s directory, and students there referred to it as “The Facebook.” Becoming a total success, Zuckerberg decided to spread it to other schools like Stanford, Dartmouth, Columbia, New York University, Cornell, Penn, Brown, and Yale.
Then Zuckerberg decided to move to Palo Alto, California, with some friends where they rented a small house which served as their office. They finally had their first office in the middle of 2004 after Peter Theil put an investment on the company.
Being successful is not always a good thing because a lot of people would want to see you fall. This is true for Zuckerberg whom after the great success of Facebook has then been bombarded with lawsuits.
Like a group of students from Harvard, namely Cameron Winklevoss, Tyler Winklevoss, and Divya Narendra who accused him of intentionally making them believe he would help them build a social network called HarvardConnection.com (later called ConnectU) and filed a lawsuit in 2004 but was dismissed March 28, 2007 due to a technicality. It was then refiled in federal court in Boston and in June 25, 2008, the case was settled with Facebook agreeing to transfer over 1.2 million common shares and pay a total of $20 million in cash.
Even his friend and co-founder Eduardo Saverin filed a lawsuit against Facebook and Zuckerberg but was settled out of court. And in June 30, 2010, Paul Ceglia, the owner of a wood pellet fuel company in Allegany County, upstate New York, also filed a lawsuit against Zuckerberg, saying that he owns 84% of Facebook and asking monetary damages. However, Facebook’s spokesperson announced that Ceglia was unsuccessful to get an out-of-court settlement.
Having too much money than he could ever spend, Zuckerberg decided to share his blessings. One of which was when he donated $100 million to help the Newark Public Schools system in New Jersey in September 2010. Then, just two months after, Zuckerberg signed the “Giving Pledge”, promising to donate at least 50 percent of his wealth to charity over the course of his lifetime. After his donation, Zuckerberg called on other young, wealthy entrepreneurs to do the same.
In May 2012, Zuckerberg made two major life-changing decisions. Facebook had its initial public offering, which raised $16 billion, making it the biggest Internet IPO in history. After the initial success of the IPO, the Facebook stock price dropped. But Zuckerberg is expected to recover the loss in his company where in he holds more than 57% control of the voting shares.
With all the success and the money what else could Mark Elliot Zuckerberg as for? Nothing, except the hand of his long-time girlfriend Priscilla Chan who said yes and they exchanged vows in May 19, just a day after the IPO. About 100 people gathered at the couple’s Palo Alto, California home. It was actually a surprise wedding, the guests thought that they were invited to celebrate Chan’s graduation from medical school, but instead they witnessed Zuckerberg and Chan wedding ceremony.
Looks like a happy ending for our main character, but will they like in the fairy tales who live happily ever after? I guess not for while I was writing this article I read news that Facebook’s stock plummeted. Midday of Friday (July 27, 2012) Zuckerberg lost a staggering $7 billion since the Facebook IPO. But despite that much of money he is still worth just under $12 billion which is still enough to make him among the 72 richest people in the world, according to the most recent rankings from Forbes.
With more than 955 million users, investors are having doubts that Facebook could still earn more revenue with most users not using smart phones which means that there will be no more space left for advertisements where the company get their money from.