From Facemash To Facebook
Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of the social-networking site, Facebook, is one of the world’s youngest billionaires, and a former student at Harvard University. Zuckerberg was born in 1984, and was raised in an upper-class family in Dobbs Ferry, New York. Zuckerberg’s father was a dentist and his mother worked as psychiatrist until the birth of her children. Zuckerberg showed a deep interest and talent in computer programming from a young age, and by 12-years-old, he had developed a program for a messaging program, dubbed “Zuknet”, that his family used for instant messaging on computers in his home and his father’s dental office. After realizing that Zuckerberg had an enormous talent for programming, his parents hired a private computer tutor named David Newman to tutor Zuckerberg. Newman later noted that Zuckerberg quickly outpaced him in their tutoring sessions. While he was still in high school Zuckerberg eventually entered graduate-level courses in computer programming at Mercy College, near his home in New York.
Zuckerberg enrolled in Harvard University in 2002 with a plan to study computer science and sociology, and upon matriculating he quickly became known as a computer-programming expert. He developed a program called CourseMatch that allowed students to share their class schedules and enrollment information with peers and friends. He also developed a program called Facemash, which allowed students to view side-by-side photos of Harvard students and vote on which person was more attractive. The university later banned the program due to concerns regarding harassment and bullying.
After news of his programming feats reached the general student body at Harvard, Zuckerberg was approached by three Harvard students: Divya Narendra, and Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss to develop a dating program called Harvard Connection. Similar to the concept of the “facebook’ at Exeter, the site would provide pictures, personal information, and the ability to connect with other Harvard students. Zuckerberg agreed to work on the project, but subsequently ended his work with the group in order to develop his own social-networking site. Initially called “The Facebook” the site was based out of a Harvard dorm room. Zuckerberg made the decision to drop out of Harvard in June of 2004, at the end of his sophomore year, in order to manage and develop this site full time. He brought the company to Palo Alto, California, opened the main offices, and by the end of 2004, his site, now called Facebook, had 1 million members.
The Harvard Connection
Subsequent to the rise of Facebook, the three students who had developed the Harvard Connection concept and shared it shared Zuckerberg filed a suit stating that he had violated intellectual property laws in developing the Facebook site. Zuckerberg stated that the programs were based on two uniquely separate kinds of social networks but lawyers later found incriminating messages that indicated that Zuckerberg might have purposely stolen intellectual property of Harvard Connection. An initial legal settlement of $65 million was reached between the parties, but the lawsuit was not officially abandoned or settled, and appeals were filed as recently as mid-2011.
In June, 2012, the Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index listed Zuckerberg’s total net worth at $16.0 billion dollars. Zuckerberg has donated millions of dollars to charities and philanthropic causes. In September 2010 he donated $100 million Newark, New Jersey Public. In December 2010, Zuckerberg announced and signed his “Giving Pledge”, promising to give at least 50 percent of his wealth to philanthropic causes over the course of his lifetime.