||Mark Elliot Zuckerberg
May 14, 1984 (age 26)
White Plains, New York
||Palo Alto, California
||Harvard College (dropped out in 2004)
||CEO/President of Facebook
(24% shareholder in 2010)
||Co-founding Facebook; becoming world's youngest billionaire.
||Dobbs Ferry, New York
|| US$6.9 billion (2010)
||Randi Zuckerberg (sister)
||Time Person of the Year 2010
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 having his bar
mitzvah when he
turned 13, although he has since described himself as an atheist.
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, Zuckerberg listed as non-English
languages he could read and write: French, Hebrew, Latin, and ancient Greek)
and was captain of the fencing team.In college, he was known for reciting lines from epic poems such
as The Iliad.
At a party put on by his fraternity during
his sophomore year, Zuckerberg met Priscilla Chan, who subsequently became his
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.
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.
Zuckerberg began using computers and writing software as a child
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 also took a graduate course
in the subject at Mercy College near his home while he was 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," which allowed
all the computers between the house and dental office to communicate by pinging
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 high school fencing team and earned his diploma in classical literature.Napster 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 Latin epic poem Aeneid,
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 College in
By the time he began classes at Harvard, he had already achieved a
"reputation as a programming prodigy," notes Vargas. He majored in
computer science and psychology, and belonged to Alpha Epsilon Pi, a Jewish fraternity. In
his sophomore year, from his dorm room, he built 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 users at the college 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 during the weekend, but by Monday morning
Zuckerberg's site was shut down by the college. It had become so popular during
the short time it was up that it eventually overwhelmed Harvard's web server
and prevented students from accessing the web. In addition, many students
complained that their photos were being used without permission. He apologized
publicly, although the student paper ran articles stating that his site was
At the time of Zuckerberg's "fun" site, however,
students had already been requesting the university to develop a web site that
would include similar photos and contact details to be part of the college's
server network. According to Hasit, "Mark heard these pleas and decided
that if the university won't do something about it, he will, and he would build
a site that would be even better than what the university had planned."
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 atStanford, 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.
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
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."
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.
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
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.
Facebook countersued in regards to Social Butterfly, a project put out by The Winklevoss
Chang Group, an alleged partnership between ConnectU and i2hub.
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 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
On June 30, 2010, Paul Ceglia, the owner of a wood pellet fuel
company in Allegany County,
upstate 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 sought an out-of-court settlement. In an
interview with ABC World News, Zuckerberg stated he was confident he had
never signed 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, Facebookremoved 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