In this success story, we will share the biography of Mark Zuckerberg, the youngest billionaire on the planet who created the Facebook social network that now has over 1 billion monthly active users.
Thanks to Facebook, people worldwide can easily keep in touch with all their friends. Not long ago, society did not have such an opportunity, but now everything has changed. However, Facebook is not limited only to communication and acquaintances. There are numerous interest groups and fan pages that help to rally the people together. This is not counting the fact Facebook also has a vast database of profiles, exceeding the most popular dating sites, and chances to find your second half are impressive.
Mark Zuckerberg’s Childhood Biography
Mark Elliot Zuckerberg was born on May 14, 1984, and grew up in the suburbs of New York, Dobbs Ferry. He was the second of four children and the only son in an educated family. Mark’s father, Edward Zuckerberg, is a dentist, and his mother, Karen Zuckerberg, is a psychiatrist. His father owned a dental practice next to the family house. Mark and his three sisters, Arielle, Randi, and Donna, were raised in Dobbs Ferry, New York.
Mark got interested in programming in elementary school. Mark discovered that the world is divided between programmers and users when he was ten and got his first PC, Quantex 486DX, on the Intel 486.
From Mark Zuckerberg’s biography, we found out his father taught him Atari BASIC Programming, and when Mark was about 12, he used Atari BASIC to create a messenger, which he called “ZuckNet.” It connected all the computers and allowed them to transfer messages between the house and the dental office. His father installed the messenger on his computer in his dentist’s office, and the receptionist could inform him when a new patient arrived. Mark also enjoyed developing games and communication tools; as he said, he was doing it just for fun. Edward Zuckerberg’s father even hired a computer tutor, David Newman, who gave his son private lessons.
Also, at high school, Mark wrote an artificially intelligent media player, Synapse, for MP3 playlists that carefully studied a user’s preferences and could generate playlists’ guessing,’ which tracks a user wanted to listen to. Microsoft and AOL got an unusual interest in Synapse media player and tried to acquire it. However, the young talent rejected the offer of the IT giants and then politely declined their invitation to cooperate. Just like that, Mark Zuckerberg refused dozens, maybe even hundreds of thousands of dollars, to work at one of the top IT corporations.
Soon, Mark Zuckerberg studied at the Academy of Phillips Exeter, an exclusive preparatory school in New Hampshire. He showed good results there in science and literature, receiving a degree in classics. He also showed great talent in fencing and even became the school captain of the fencing team. Yet Mark Zuckerberg stayed fascinated by coding and wanted to work on developing new software.
In 2002, after graduating from Phillips Exeter, Zuckerberg entered Harvard University. By his second year in the Ivy League, he had gained a reputation as a software developer on campus. Then, he wrote a program, CourseMatch, which helped students choose their subjects based on lists of courses from other users.
FaceMash – A Fun Site for Voting
In 2003, one summer evening, when Mark Zuckerberg had insomnia in a Harvard dormitory room, he got the idea to create a FaceMash site. Mark decided to hack Harvard’s database, where the students uploaded their profile pictures. He quickly wrote a program that randomly selected two pictures of two random female students and put them next to each other, asking, “Who is hotter?” giving the option for voting.
The process was in full swing, and most of the students at Harvard visited the site. When the number of visitors exceeded the limit, the server crashed due to overload. Mark appeared before the committee on computer hacking. Of course, nobody told Mark Zuckerberg, ‘Well done!’ he received disciplinary action and noticed that such things caused stormy interest in society. By the way, Harvard has refused to comment on the incident up till now.
The Rising of Facebook
About ten months before Zuckerberg’s FaceMash epic, one of the students of Harvard – Divya Narendra – had already discussed creating a social network exclusively for Harvard students, many of whom were suffering from emotional stiffness. And not have ‘aliens’ engaged the network, Narendra suggested using the Harvard email address as the main username.
Divya Narendra’s partners were twins Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss. The father of the Winklevoss twins, Howard Winklevoss, is a successful financial consultant and puts in his sons a lot of effort and money – so the problem with the initial capital for the future network could be solved quickly.
In conversation with Mark, Narendra said that the project would be called Harvard Connection (later renamed to ConnectU), and its members would post their photos, personal information, and valuable links on the Internet. Mark Zuckerberg’s tasks included programming the site and creating a source code, which would allow the system to work as quickly as possible.
After a private meeting with Narendra and the Winklevoss twins, Zuckerberg agreed to join in the work, but he skeptically estimated the potential of his new partners. While working on Harvard Connection, he got a fantastic idea for his social network.
On February 04, 2004, Mark Zuckerberg registered TheFacebook.com, now known worldwide as Facebook.com. However, it functioned only within Harvard.
After Zuckerberg and his partner Eduardo Saverin realized that there were already 4,000 users registered on Facebook, they concluded that they needed the services of new programmers. One of them was Mark’s neighbor, Darren Moskowitz, who further opened the Facebook service to students at Columbia University, Stanford, and Yale.
Around the same time, after the IPO, Zuckerberg owned 503.6 million shares. And now Zuckerberg controls nearly 60% of the company’s votes, 35% – Eduardo Saverin, and 5% went to the newcomer Moskowitz. Another friend of Mark, Chris Hughes, was assigned as the Press Attache of Facebook.
Sometime later, the registration was opened to all students. The primary condition was the availability of an email address in the .edu zone, indicating a person’s belongings to the education sector.
It must be said that this tactic worked out nicely at first. The project attracted the attention of an audience of decent quality. When a user was trying to sign up, he had to fill out a detailed profile, and in addition to the email address in the .edu zone, it was requested to add a real profile picture. If people had used avatars instead of actual photos, their profiles would have been deleted.
Soon, Facebook went beyond the education sector, becoming increasingly popular. Mark Zuckerberg started looking for investors. The first investments Mark received from one of the founders of PayPal, Peter Thiel, who is well-known throughout Silicon Valley. Peter Thiel allocated $500,000, which was sufficient for direct Facebook purposes. The project began to evolve rapidly. Less than a year after it was founded, more than 1 million people joined the social network. More investments are needed for the further development of Facebook. Accel Partners invested in Facebook $12.7 million, and then Greylock Partners added to this amount $27.5 million.
By 2005, Facebook became accessible to all educational institutions and universities in the USA. Zuckerberg still believed that his project was a social network for students, but users’ interest in Facebook grew exponentially. Then, it was decided to make registration accessible to the public. And after this, a Facebook ‘epidemic’ started.
The main thing that immediately attracted users to Facebook is that friends who meet in real life now could communicate online. It was something new.
The Facebook audience increased, but the monetization of the project remained unclear. Everyone expected that the main instrument should be context advertising. The fact is that every Facebook user fills out a sufficiently detailed profile, which can be used to show relevant advertisements. That would open up enough options to advertisers who may be of interest to their audience. But Facebook continued to grow its audience. When they got over 50 million users, large companies began to offer Zuckerberg to sell them the project. So, even Yahoo! once offered $900 million for Facebook. It was an impressive sum, but it did not satisfy Mark. Facebook biography and Mark Zuckerberg’s success story is quite intriguing, right?
Lawsuits against Facebook
A series of scandals accompanied the Facebook project launch. Six days after launching the site, senior students brothers Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss and Divya Narendra accused Mark Zuckerberg of stealing their idea. They claimed that in 2003, they hired Zuckerberg to make him ultimately establish the social network HarvardConnection.com. According to their testimonies, Zuckerberg did not provide them with the results of his work but used the original source code to create Facebook.
Narendra and the Winklevoss twins launched their network in the same year, renamed ConnectU. And they continued to attack Mark Zuckerberg, complaining about the Harvard administration and The Harvard Crimson newspaper. Initially, Zuckerberg urged journalists not to publish the investigation: he showed them what he did for HarvardConnection and explained that those developments did not relate to Facebook. But inappropriately, another Harvard student – John Thomson – started saying in personal conversations that Zuckerberg stole one of his ideas for Facebook. The newspaper decided to publish the article, which greatly offended Mark Zuckerberg.
Zuckerberg took revenge on The Harvard Crimson. According to Silicon Alley Insider, in 2004, he broke the mailboxes of two journalists from The Harvard Crimson, using the newly launched Facebook. He found users involved in the newspaper and browsed their logs (i.e., history) of incorrectly entered passwords on Facebook. Zuckerberg’s expectations were met: two newspaper employees absentmindedly tried to log in to Facebook with passwords from their mailboxes. Silicon Alley Insider wrote that Zuckerberg got lucky: he had a chance to read the correspondence about him between the editorial office and HarvardConnection.
The Winklevoss twins and Narendra filed a lawsuit against Mark Zuckerberg, but the court rejected their claim. They were persistent and filed another lawsuit. This time, the court examined the code sources to understand whether they were actually stolen. But the truth was still not clear. The examination results were not announced. In 2009, Zuckerberg agreed to pay $45 million ($20 million in cash and the remaining amount in Facebook shares) to ConnectU as part of the court settlement. The case was closed. ConnectU had less than 100,000 users; Facebook boasted about 150 million users.
The Winklevoss twins did not calm down and filed a petition in the U.S. Court of Appeals, but they were denied a retrial. According to their lawyer, Jerome Falk, the appellate court refused to review the case based only on the parties’ settlement agreement, which states that the trial members do not have the right to resume the trial after signing the document. In the counsel’s view, the decision was illegal, as Mark Zuckerberg, in a proceeding in 2008, provided false information about the company’s value.
On May 17, 2011, Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss filed another lawsuit against the owner of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, to the U.S. Supreme Court. That was the latest attempt by the brothers to make the court reconsider the case.
Bill Gates and Facebook
In 2007, a significant event happened to Facebook. Microsoft acquired a 1.6% equity stake in Facebook for an impressive $240 million. On this basis, several analysts suggested that the total value of Facebook reached $15 billion—quite good results for the company, whose income did not exceed $200 million a year. After the deal, Bill Gates created an account on Facebook. He used to spend several hours a day communicating through Facebook with everyone, but after a while, he decided to close his account because too many people were willing to chat with him. Physically, he was not able to chat with all of them. However, Gates made a significant PR campaign for Facebook worldwide. This is particularly important for Microsoft, given its exclusive advertising agreement with the social network until 2011.
How Facebook Makes Money
In 2013, the turnover of Facebook, Inc. reached $7.87 billion, and its net income was $1.5 billion. The growth rates are also impressive: turnover has increased six-fold in three years.
The basic earnings of Facebook come from contextual ads on the social network pages. The growing number of users and their time on the site are converted into advertising revenues. 85% percent of the cash flow that went through the company last year was earned through contextual advertising.
Most of the rest, 15%, are deductions from purchases made through the Facebook payment system. These are mostly not real but virtual goods. For example, seeds, fruits, and vegetables purchased by fans of the popular game Farmville developed by Zynga.
Despite the apparent frivolity, virtual goods are a serious business, and the Facebook report confirms that. The company estimated that in 2010, the global market turnover for virtual goods reached $7 billion; by 2014, it rose to $15 billion.
At the beginning of January 2013, Facebook Inc. started testing the service of paid private messaging. Facebook charges $1.00 for a personal message you can send to users who are not on your friend list. And the message goes directly to their Inbox folder instead of the Other one. However, Facebook realized that some users are worth more than $1. If you want to message Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and get into his inbox, you might have to pay $100 for this exclusive option. This is another effortless way to generate additional revenue.
Acquisition of Instagram, Oculus Rift, and WhatsApp
Mark Zuckerberg is a great strategist, and he keeps acquiring companies that continue their operation as independent entities under Facebook’s umbrella.
In April 2012, Zuckerberg acquired mobile photo-sharing app Instagram for $1 billion in cash and stock. Initially, it was an iOS application developed by Mike Krieger and Kevin Systrom. Now, the Instagram application is available on Android OS as well.
In March 2014, Facebook closed the acquisition of Oculus Rift for $2 billion. Oculus Rift is virtual reality hardware engineered by Oculus VR Company, headed by Palmer Freeman Luckey. Facebook paid $400 million in cash plus 23.1m Facebook shares, with a further $300 million in incentives if it hits certain milestones in the future.
In October 2014, Mark Zuckerberg completed the purchase of WhatsApp for $22 billion. Facebook paid $4.59 billion in cash and 177,760,669 shares in the company. WhatsApp is an instant messaging application founded by Jan Koum and Brian Acton in 2009.
Mark Zuckerberg: TIME’s 2010 Person of the Year
In January 2010, TIME magazine named Facebook founder, CEO, and 26-year-old billionaire Mark Zuckerberg the Person of the Year 2010.
Lady Gaga, James Cameron, and the founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, were struggling for this title that year. However, TIME magazine chose his hero. ‘The social network created by Mark connected almost every tenth person on the planet,’ – Richard Stengel, TIME editor-in-chief, explained their choice. He says, ‘Today, Facebook is the third-largest country in the world that knows about its citizens as much as no government on the planet does.’
According to TIME, in the past year, no one else had such a significant impact on the world than the current winner. Mark’s popularity is so high that in 2010, David Fincher shot a movie called ‘The Social Network,’ in which Jesse Eisenberg brilliantly played the central role of the Facebook founder. Previously, TIME’s Persons of the Year became the United States presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.
In 2010, Forbes magazine admitted Mark Zuckerberg as the youngest billionaire on its list to the state of $4 billion.
In the rating of the 400 wealthiest people in the United States, published by Forbes magazine in 2015, Zuckerberg took 7th place with a net worth of $40.3 billion. As of November 2023, his net worth is $106.3 billion.
The Facebook Company is Now Meta
In October 2021, Mark Zuckerberg announced renaming the Facebook company to Meta, indicating the company’s growing aspirations beyond social media. Meta is focused on building the metaverse, a virtual world where people can interact, work, play, and connect. The word “Meta” originates from Greek and means “beyond.” It is intended to express the company’s vision for a future where people can engage with digital content and each other in new and immersive ways.
Initially, the rebranding caused controversy, with some critics accusing Zuckerberg of using it to distract from the company’s many scandals. However, Zuckerberg has defended the move, saying it is necessary to represent the company’s changing focus and commitment to developing the next generation of computing.
It is still unknown whether the rebranding will be successful, but it is clear that Zuckerberg is betting on the metaverse. He sees Meta as the company leading the way in creating this new world.
Mark Zuckerberg’s Lifestyle
Zuckerberg lives in Palo Alto in a $7 million estate with five bedrooms, a saltwater pool, and over 5,000 square feet of property.
On May 19, 2012, Mark Zuckerberg married his longtime girlfriend, Priscilla Chan, in Palo Alto, California. They happily live together.
On December 01, 2015, Mark Zuckerberg and Dr. Priscilla Chan announced the birth of their daughter, Maxima Chan Zuckerberg, and wrote a letter to her with supportive words and mentoring notes. “Max, we love you and feel a great responsibility to leave the world a better place for you and all children,” Zuckerberg and Chan wrote in the letter to their daughter.
On August 28, 2017, Mark Zuckerberg and Dr. Priscilla Chan announced the birth of their second daughter, August Chan Zuckerberg.
The young couple also pledged to donate 99% of their Facebook shares – worth about $45 billion – through the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative within their lifetime to promote human potential, equality, and world development.
We hope you have enjoyed reading Mark Zuckerberg’s biography and the breathtaking success story of Facebook, and it has inspired you to make discoveries.
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