The desire to stay connected with your friends and family is I think a relatively universal thing across the world.
The above quote from Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg aptly summarizes the secret of his astronomical success. Zuckerberg, who will turn 33 this coming Sunday, has become a household name and a global icon because of his social networking site. With an estimated net worth of $62.7 billion, Zuckerberg is currently the sixth richest person in the world and by far the youngest among the global top ten. The story of how he reached these rarefied heights may be familiar to most, but the details of that rise remain remarkable.
Mark Elliot Zuckerberg was born May 14, 1984 in White Plains, NY as the only son to Edward Zuckerberg, a dentist, and Karen Zuckerberg (nee Kempner), a psychiatrist. The Zuckerbergs also had three daughters: Randi, Donna, and Arielle. Growing up in Dobbs Ferry, a small village in Westchester County, Zuckerberg demonstrated a facility with software development at an early age. In middle school he developed a program called ZuckNet that connected the computers between home and his father’s dental office in order to make communication easier. Zuckerberg attended the prestigious Phillips Exeter Academy, where he became captain of the fencing team and graduated with a diploma in classical literature in 2002.
From there Zuckerberg matriculated to Harvard, an era of his life dramatized by the 2010 film The Social Network. Zuckerberg developed a reputation on campus as a premier software developer. Among the computer programs he developed during his two years at Harvard were CourseMatch, which helped students choose courses based on the selections of their peers, and Facemash, which ranked the “hotness” of students based on a side-by-side comparison of two pictures. His work attracted the attention of three Harvard students—Divya Narendra, and twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss—who asked Zuckerberg to collaborate with them on a social networking site called Harvard Connection. Zuckerberg worked on the Harvard Connection project for a few months before bowing out to work with three friends on another social networking site called The Facebook.
Along the way, the site’s developers wisely decided to drop the definite article and Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard in order to devote his full attention to the fledgling site. Investments from the business sector helped get Facebook off the ground, as did expanding the site’s reach beyond the cloistered Harvard campus to other institutions of higher learning. Just as Facebook was increasing in popularity, however, Zuckerberg was sued by the developers of Harvard Connection who claimed that he had stolen their idea. After months of legal wrangling between the two sides, the case was settled for $65 million.
Despite some hiccups along the way, including subsequent suits by the Winklevoss twins and an initially rocky start as an IPO in May 2012, Zuckerberg and Facebook have prospered. According to the digital marketing firm Zephoria, in March 2017 alone there were over 1.94 billion active monthly Facebook users and 1.28 billion who accessed the site on a daily basis. Needless to say that such numbers are highly attractive to social media marketing agencies who create targeted ads to reach these potential customers and gather more leads while lowering their search engine marketing budgets in the process.
As for Zuckerberg himself, he has been hailed as one of the premier Internet entrepreneurs of the Digital Age. In recent years, he’s also made his mark as a philanthropist: Zuckerberg and his wife are committed to The Giving Pledge, a campaign in which billionaires (including Bill and Melinda Gates, Warren Buffett and others) pledge to contribute a significant portion of their wealth to philanthropic causes. Zuckerberg has also prospered in his personal life as well, having married his Harvard girlfriend Priscilla Chan in 2012. The couple had their first daughter, Maxima “Max” Zuckerberg in 2015 and recently announced that another daughter will soon be on the way.
With all the success Zuckerberg has enjoyed in his short yet impressive life, we’re sure he’ll have a most happy birthday this weekend. The world is surely eager to see what he and Facebook have planned in the future.