Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s biography, family, and facts (Bio.)
Who Is Mark Zuckerberg?
Mark Zuckerberg co-founded the social-networking website Facebook out of his college dorm room at Harvard University. Zuckerberg left college after his sophomore year to concentrate on the site, the user base of which has grown to more than two billion people, making Zuckerberg a billionaire many times over. The birth of Facebook was portrayed in the 2010 film The Social Network.
Zuckerberg was born on May 14, 1984, in White Plains, New York, into a comfortable, well-educated family. He was raised in the nearby village of Dobbs Ferry.
Zuckerberg’s father, Edward Zuckerberg, ran a dental practice attached to the family’s home. His mother, Karen, worked as a psychiatrist before the birth of the couple’s four children — Mark, Randi, Donna and Arielle.
Zuckerberg developed an interest in computers at an early age; when he was about 12, he used Atari BASIC to create a messaging program he named “Zucknet.” His father used the program in his dental office, so that the receptionist could inform him of a new patient without yelling across the room. The family also used Zucknet to communicate within the house.
Together with his friends, he also created computer games just for fun. “I had a bunch of friends who were artists,” he said. “They’d come over, draw stuff, and I’d build a game out of it.”
Mark Zuckerberg’s Education
To keep up with Zuckerberg’s burgeoning interest in computers, his parents hired private computer tutor David Newman to come to the house once a week and work with Zuckerberg. Newman later told reporters that it was hard to stay ahead of the prodigy, who began taking graduate courses at nearby Mercy College around this same time.
Zuckerberg later studied at Phillips Exeter Academy, an exclusive preparatory school in New Hampshire. There he showed talent in fencing, becoming the captain of the school’s team. He also excelled in literature, earning a diploma in classics.
Yet Zuckerberg remained fascinated by computers and continued to work on developing new programs. While still in high school, he created an early version of the music software Pandora, which he called Synapse.
Several companies—including AOL and Microsoft—expressed an interest in buying the software, and hiring the teenager before graduation. He declined the offers.
Mark Zuckerberg’s College Experience
After graduating from Exeter in 2002, Zuckerberg enrolled at Harvard University. After his sophomore year, Zuckerberg dropped out of college to devote himself to his new company, Facebook, full time.
By his sophomore year at the Ivy League institution, he had developed a reputation as the go-to software developer on campus. It was at that time that he built a program called CourseMatch, which helped students choose their classes based on the course selections of other users.
He also invented Facemash, which compared the pictures of two students on campus and allowed users to vote on which one was more attractive. The program became wildly popular, but was later shut down by the school administration after it was deemed inappropriate.
Based on the buzz of his previous projects, three of his fellow students—Divya Narendra, and twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss—sought him out to work on an idea for a social networking site they called Harvard Connection. This site was designed to use information from Harvard’s student networks in order to create a dating site for the Harvard elite.
Zuckerberg agreed to help with the project, but soon dropped out to work on his own social networking site, The Facebook.
Mark Zuckerberg and Founding Facebook
Zuckerberg and his friends Dustin Moskovitz, Chris Hughes and Eduardo Saverin created The Facebook, a site that allowed users to create their own profiles, upload photos, and communicate with other users. The group ran the site out of a dorm room at Harvard University until June 2004.
That year Zuckerberg dropped out of college and moved the company to Palo Alto, California. By the end of 2004, Facebook had 1 million users.
In 2005, Zuckerberg’s enterprise received a huge boost from the venture capital firm Accel Partners. Accel invested $12.7 million into the network, which at the time was open only to Ivy League students.
Zuckerberg’s company then granted access to other colleges, high school and international schools, pushing the site’s membership to more than 5.5 million users by December 2005. The site began attracting the interest of other companies that wanted to advertise with the popular social hub.
Not wanting to sell out, Zuckerberg turned down offers from companies such as Yahoo! and MTV Networks. Instead, he focused on expanding the site, opening up his project to outside developers and adding more features.
‘Harvard Connection’ and Legal Hurdles
Zuckerberg seemed to be going nowhere but up. However, in 2006, the business mogul faced his first big hurdle: the creators of Harvard Connection claimed that Zuckerberg stole their idea, and insisted the software developer needed to pay for their business losses.
Zuckerberg maintained that the ideas were based on two very different types of social networks. After lawyers searched Zuckerberg’s records, incriminating instant messages revealed that Zuckerberg may have intentionally stolen the intellectual property of Harvard Connection and offered Facebook users’ private information to his friends.
Zuckerberg later apologized for the incriminating messages, saying he regretted them. “If you’re going to go on to build a service that is influential and that a lot of people rely on, then you need to be mature, right?” he said in an interview with The New Yorker. “I think I’ve grown and learned a lot.”
Although an initial settlement of $65 million was reached between the two parties, the legal dispute over the matter continued well into 2011, after Narendra and the Winklevosses claimed they were misled in regards to the value of their stock.
Mark Zuckerberg Fact Card
‘The Social Network’ Movie
In 2010, screenwriter Aaron Sorkin’s movie The Social Network was released. The critically acclaimed film received eight Academy Award nominations.
Sorkin’s screenplay was based on the 2009 book The Accidental Billionaires, by writer Ben Mezrich. Mezrich was heavily criticized for his re-telling of Zuckerberg’s story, which used invented scenes, re-imagined dialogue and fictional characters.
Zuckerberg objected strongly to the film’s narrative, and later told a reporter at The New Yorker that many of the details in the film were inaccurate. For example, Zuckerberg had been dating his longtime girlfriend since 2003. He also said he was never interested in joining any of the final clubs.
“It’s interesting what stuff they focused on getting right; like, every single shirt and fleece that I had in that movie is actually a shirt or fleece that I own,” Zuckerberg told a reporter at a startup conference in 2010. “So there’s all this stuff that they got wrong and a bunch of random details that they got right.”