Mark Elliot Zuckerberg
Mark Zuckerberg in a photograph from his Facebook profile.
|Occupation||Founder and CEO of Facebook|
Mark Elliot Zuckerberg (born May 14, 1984) is an American computer programmer and entrepreneur. As a Harvard College student he founded the online social networking website Facebook with the help of fellow Harvard student and computer science major Andrew McCollum as well as roommates Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes. He now serves as Facebook's CEO.
Zuckerberg was raised in Dobbs Ferry, Westchester County, New York by a Jewish family. Zuckerberg attended Horace Mann, a prestigious private school outside of NYC. He went on to graduate from Phillips Exeter Academy in 2002.
High school years
At Exeter, Zuckerberg met friend Adam D'Angelo and they worked on various projects together, including an artificially intelligent MP3 player that learned the listening habits of people who used it. While still in high school, the two were approached by several companies to buy the MP3 player, called Synapse, but they declined. D'Angelo is now the CTO of Facebook.
Zuckerberg attended Harvard University and was enrolled in the class of 2006. He was a member of the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity. At Harvard, Zuckerberg continued creating his projects. An early project, Coursematch, allowed students to view lists of other students enrolled in the same classes. A later project, Facemash.com, was a Harvard-specific image rating site similar to Hot or Not. A version of the site was online for four hours before Zuckerberg's Internet access was revoked by administration officials. The computer services department brought Zuckerberg before the Harvard University Administrative Board, where he was charged with breaching computer security and violating rules on Internet privacy and intellectual property.
Zuckerberg launched Facebook from his Harvard dorm room on February 4, 2004. According to sources, Zuckerberg wrote the original code for the site in less than two weeks. It quickly became a success at Harvard and more than two-thirds of the school's students signed up in the first two weeks. Zuckerberg then decided to spread Facebook to other schools and enlisted the help of roommate Dustin Moskovitz. They first spread it to Stanford, Columbia and Yale and then to other Ivy League colleges and schools in the Boston area. By the beginning of the summer, Zuckerberg and Moskovitz had released Facebook at almost 30 schools.
Moving to California
Zuckerberg moved to Palo Alto, California with Moskovitz and some friends during the summer of 2004. According to Zuckerberg, the group planned to return to Harvard in the fall but eventually decided to remain in California, taking a leave of absence. They leased a small house which served as their first office. Over the summer, Zuckerberg met Peter Thiel who invested in the company. They got their first office on University Avenue in downtown Palo Alto a few months later. Today, the company has four buildings in downtown Palo Alto, forming what Zuckerberg calls an "urban campus".
On September 5, 2006, Facebook launched News Feed, a list of what friends were doing on the site. Zuckerberg became the target of criticism as some saw News Feed as unnecessary and a tool for cyberstalking. Three days later, Zuckerberg responded in an open letter to the Facebook community, apologizing for the sudden unwelcome feature, providing new privacy options, but ultimately defending the feature and his belief in free information flow. Zuckerberg contended that the feature was a good asset to use between friends, and the privacy settings allow for information to be blocked from users who are not friends with the person. News Feed is now one of the most popular features of Facebook and several of its competitors have tried to copy it.
Facebook ads and Beacon controversy
On November 6, 2007, Zuckerberg announced a new advertising system at an event in New York. It is a self-service system like Google. One part of the program, called Beacon, enabled people to share information with Facebook from browsing the web and it came under heavy privacy concerns.
On December 1, 2007 Facebook's credibility in regard to the Beacon program was significantly further tested when it was reported that the New York Times "essentially accuses" Mark Zuckerberg of lying to the paper and leaving Coca-Cola with a similar impression. Coca-Cola later corrected this perception however as they had never even spoken with Facebook about the Beacon program.
Zuckerberg's Harvard classmates, Divya Narendra, Cameron Winklevoss, and Tyler Winklevoss, claim they hired him to finish the code on their website, ConnectU and that he stole their idea, design, business plan, and source code. A lawsuit was filed in 2004 claiming a breach of contract, misappropriation of trade secrets, copyright infringement, in addition to other claims. Zuckerberg claims there was no contract and that he was not a partner. They are seeking monetary damages. ConnectU has maintained that it is not their intention to shut down Facebook.
Since its original filing in Massachusetts the lawsuit was dismissed without prejudice on March 28, 2007, but was never ruled on. It was refiled soon thereafter in U.S. District Court in Boston, and a preliminary hearing was scheduled for July 25, 2007. At the hearing the judge told ConnectU parts of their complaint were not sufficiently pled and gave them the ability to refile an amended complaint.
In November 2007, confidential court documents were posted on the website of Harvard alumni magazine 02138. They included Zuckerberg's social security number, his parents' home address and his girlfriend's address. Facebook filed suit to get the documents taken down, but the Boston judge Douglas Woodlock ruled in favor of 02138.
Facebook origins controversy
It is alleged that emails verified by the New York Times suggest that Zuckerberg might have taken many ideas for Facebook from Aaron J. Greenspan's houseSYSTEM website.  It is alleged that Zuckerberg may have also taken ideas from the online Facebook at the high school he went to. There were several other online college communities in existence at the time too that he may have drawn ideas from.
Harvard's 02138 magazine spells out the details of Zuckerberg's founding of Facebook .
- Grynbaum, Michael M. (2004-06-10). "Mark E. Zuckerberg '06: The whiz behind thefacebook.com". The Harvard Crimson. Check date values in:
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- Article about Early days of Facebook from Harvard Campus Magazine 02138