Happy Birthday Facebook and an Apology to Mark Zuckerberg

the facebook original welcome screen

Facebook's home screen - 2004

Late afternoon eight years ago today (February 4, 2004), in a small room at Harvard University, Mark Zuckerberg flipped a switch and TheFacebook.com went live. Did he know he created a revolutionary platform that would help define the term social media? Hardly. As reported by The Harvard Crimson five days later, the Mark Zuckerberg of then is not much different from the Mark Zuckerberg of today: talented, impatient and cocky.

Having come off creating Facemash.com, his take on the popular “Hot or Not“site where people submit their photo for public judgment (except that he hacked the photos of Harvard students from the schools records resulting in student backlash), he turned his talents towards a Friendster type site — but one based upon “weak tie” connections like school; dorm residence; subject classes rather than a desire to find a date (or mate).  Perceiving the University’s attempt to create a universal face book as moving too slow, he wrote the code for TheFacebook in his dorm room in one week. Talented; cocky; impatient.

Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg '06 (right) credits his roommates, Dustin A. Moskovitz '06 and Christopher R. Hughes '06 (left and middle) as the site's social directors.Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg '06 (right) credits his roommates, Dustin A. Moskovitz '06 and Christopher R. Hughes '06 (left and middle) as the site's social directors.

Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg '06 (right) credits his roommates, Dustin A. Moskovitz '06 and Christopher R. Hughes '06 (left and middle) as the site's social directors.

After five days TheFacebook had 650 subscribers. Just eight short years later, it counts over 845 million worldwide registrants.  Early on, Zuckerberg rejected an offer from Friendster to sell for $10 Million just a few months after going live. A bold move for a college sophomore.

From the Harvard Crimson 2004 article:
“While Zuckerberg promised that thefacebook.com would boast new features by the end of the week, he said that he did not create the website with the intention of generating revenue. “

In 2008, he resisted Yahoo!‘s offer of $1 Billion (a move many thought foolish). This past week, Facebook filed the paperwork for a $5 Billion public offering that would value the company at between $750 and $100 Billion.

And so I owe Mark Zuckerberg an apology. In 2010, TIME Magazine named him Person of the Year. I wrote an entry at the time stating that it was not the best choice available (see Mark Zuckerberg,TIME Magazine Person of the Year — But Not Mine). But with a 28% ownership stake, Zuckerberg stands to be worth $28 Billion. Yes, that’s billion, with a “B”. Obviously, I was wrong in 2010 and for that I apologize.

I hope he’ll forgive me.

About Ron Casalotti
I am part of that lucky generation that started out when watching TV meant choosing from three networks, three independents and PBS. Now, I work in new media for businesses and organizations - but these thoughts are my own.

One Response to Happy Birthday Facebook and an Apology to Mark Zuckerberg

  1. Tommye Sasengbong says:

    Whether you are familiar with Mark Zuckerberg depends to a considerable extent on your age and Internet savvy. The greater the one, the less the other, the more this soon to be iconic name will be unknown… and that, of course, means you’re the oldest of fogies… and must instantly make amends. I intend to make that very easy for you.Zuckerberg was born on May 14, 1984 in a “Leave It to Beaver” town with the quintessential name of Dobbs Ferry, New York. His life consisted of the very best and most appealing of what suburban life in the Great Republic offers; his father a dentist, his mother (before the birth of her four children), a psychiatrist. His was a loving, close-knit family that valued the most important thing of all: education, and made sure Mark got the best.”

    Head to our very own blog site as well
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