|English: Mark Zuckerberg, Founder & CEO of Facebook, at the press conference about the e-G8 forum during the 37th G8 summit in Deauville, France. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Mark Elliot Zuckerberg (born May 14, 1984) is an American computer programmer and Internet entrepreneur. He is best known as one of five co-founders of the social networking site Facebook. Zuckerberg is the chairman and chief executive of Facebook, Inc. Zuckerberg’s personal wealth is estimated to be $9.4 billion as of 2012.
Born and raised in New York state, Zuckerberg began writing software as a hobby in middle school, with help from his father and a tutor (who called him a prodigy). In high school, he excelled in classic literature and fencing while studying at Phillips Exeter Academy.
Zuckerberg later attended Harvard College, majoring in computer science and psychology. In his sophomore year, he wrote a notorious application that he called Facemash that allowed students on the college’s network to vote on the relative attractiveness of other students. It was shut down within days, and led to disciplinary action.
Together with his college roommates and fellow Harvard University students Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes they launched Facebook from their dormitory room. They took Facebook to other campuses nationwide and soon after moved to Palo Alto, California. By 2007, Facebook had made him a billionaire at the age of 23. By 2010, Facebook had an estimated 500 million users worldwide and reached 1 billion in 2012. Zuckerberg was involved in various legal disputes initiated by others who claimed a share of the company due to their help in setting it up.
Since 2010, Zuckerberg has been named among the 100 wealthiest and most influential people in the world by Time magazine’s Person of the Year. In 2010 the founding of Facebook was made into a major Hollywood movie, The Social Network where he was portrayed by Jesse Eisenberg.
Zuckerberg was born in 1984 in White Plains, New York. He is the son of Karen (née Kempner), a psychiatrist, and Edward Zuckerberg, a dentist. He and his three sisters, Randi, Donna, and Arielle, were brought up in Dobbs Ferry, New York. Zuckerberg was raised Jewish, had his bar mitzvah when he turned thirteen, and has since described himself as an atheist.
At Ardsley High School, Zuckerberg excelled in classics. He transferred to Phillips Exeter Academy in his junior year, where he won prizes in science (math, astronomy and physics) and classical studies (on his college application, Zuckerberg claimed that he could read and write French, Hebrew, Latin, and ancient Greek). He was a fencing star and captain of the fencing team. In college, he was known for reciting lines from epic poems such as The Iliad.
Zuckerberg began using computers and writing software in middle school. His father taught him Atari BASIC Programming in the 1990s, and later hired software developer David Newman to tutor him privately. Newman calls him a “prodigy”, adding that it was “tough to stay ahead of him”. Zuckerberg took a graduate course in the subject at Mercy College near his home while still in high school. He enjoyed developing computer programs, especially communication tools and games. In one such program, since his father’s dental practice was operated from their home, he built a software program he called “ZuckNet” that allowed all the computers between the house and dental office to communicate with each other. It is considered a “primitive” version of AOL‘s Instant Messenger, which came out the following year.
According to writer Jose Antonio Vargas, “some kids played computer games. Mark created them.” Zuckerberg himself recalls this period: “I had a bunch of friends who were artists. They’d come over, draw stuff, and I’d build a game out of it.” However, notes Vargas, Zuckerberg was not a typical “geek-klutz”, as he later became captain of his prep school fencing team and earned a classics diploma. Napster co-founder Sean Parker, a close friend, notes that Zuckerberg was “really into Greek odysseys and all that stuff”, recalling how he once quoted lines from the Roman epic poem Aeneid, by Virgil, during a Facebook product conference.
During Zuckerberg’s high school years, under the company name Intelligent Media Group, he built a music player called 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 chose instead to enroll at Harvard in September 2002.
By the time he began classes at Harvard, Zuckerberg had already achieved a “reputation as a programming prodigy”, notes Vargas. He studied psychology and computer science as well as belonging to Alpha Epsilon Pi, a Jewish fraternity. In his sophomore year, he wrote a program he called CourseMatch, which allowed users to make class selection decisions based on the choices of other students and also to help them form study groups. A short time later, he created a different program he initially called Facemash that let students select the best looking person from a choice of photos. According to Zuckerberg’s roommate at the time, Arie Hasit, “he built the site for fun”. Hasit explains:
We had books called Face Books, which included the names and pictures of everyone who lived in the student dorms. At first, he built a site and placed two pictures, or pictures of two males and two females. Visitors to the site had to choose who was “hotter” and according to the votes there would be a ranking.
The site went up over a weekend, but by Monday morning the college shut it down because its popularity had overwhelmed one of Harvard’s network switches and prevented students from accessing the Internet. In addition, many students complained that their photos were being used without permission. Zuckerberg apologized publicly, and the student paper ran articles stating that his site was “completely improper”.
The following semester in January 2004, Zuckerberg began writing code for a new website. He was inspired, he said, by an editorial in The Harvard Crimson about the Facemash incident however subsequent events have revealed this to be untrue. On February 4, 2004, Zuckerberg launched “Thefacebook”, originally located at thefacebook.com.
Six days after the site launched, three Harvard seniors, Cameron Winklevoss, Tyler Winklevoss, and Divya Narendra, accused Zuckerberg of intentionally misleading them into believing he would help them build a social network called HarvardConnection.com, while he was instead using their ideas to build a competing product. The three complained to the Harvard Crimson, and the newspaper began an investigation. The three later filed a lawsuit against Zuckerberg, subsequently settling. The agreed settlement was for 1.2m Facebook shares which were worth $300m at Facebook’s IPO.
Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard in his sophomore year to complete his project.[31
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 prep school from which Zuckerberg graduated in 2002. It published its own student directory, “The Photo Address Book,” 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 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 began with Stanford, Dartmouth, Columbia, New York University, Cornell, Penn, Brown and Yale.[dead link] Samyr Laine, a triple jumper representing Haiti at the 2012 Summer Olympics, shared a room with Zuckerberg during Facebook’s founding. “Mark was clearly on to great things,” said Laine, who was Facebook’s fourteenth user.
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 the company. 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 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.
In 2010, Steven 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.”
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.
In a 2011 interview with PBS after the death of Steve Jobs, Zuckerberg said that Jobs had advised him on how to create a management team at Facebook that was “focused on building as high quality and good things as you are”.
On October 1, 2012, Zuckerberg visited Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in Moscow to stimulate social media innovation in Russia and to boost Facebook’s position in the Russian market. Russia’s communications minister tweeted that Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev urged the social media giant’s founder to abandon plans to lure away Russian programmers and instead consider opening a research center in Moscow. Facebook has roughly 9 million users in Russia, while domestic clone VK has around 34 million.
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, a precursor to Facebook Platform applications.[53