Mark Zuckerberg is a world-famous young tech entrepreneur, philanthropist, Harvard dropout, and founder and CEO of social media giant Facebook Inc. (now Meta Inc.). He made Facebook along with his four Harvard friends. In 2007, he became the youngest billionaire in the world, at the age of just 23 years. He is currently the 15th richest person in the world, as per the Forbes billionaires list 2022.
Family and Personal Life
His full name is Mark Elliot Zuckerberg, born on May 14th 1984, in New York. His father, Edward Zuckerberg, was a dentist, and his mother Karen, was a psychiatrist. He has three sisters, Arielle, Randi, and Donna.
Zuckerberg's great-grandparents were originally Jews and migrated from Austria and Germany. So, Mark and his sisters were all raised in a Jewish reform family.
Mark married Priscilla Chan on May 19th 2012. She was born in the USA; her parents were immigrants from Vietnam. Initially, she was at Harvard, then she completed her medical studies at the University of California and became a paediatrician.
They met at a party during mark's sophomore year in 2003 and started dating each other. At that time, she was at Harvard University. In 2010, When she was studying medicine, she moved to live with Mark in the same house in Palo Alto.
In 2012, after completing her studies, both got married and were blessed with a girl child on December 1st 2015. They named her Maxima Zuckerberg and gave her a Chinese name- Chen Mingyu. In August 2017, the couple had their second child and named her August Zuckerberg. They also have a pet dog beast.
Mark completed his high school at Ardsley High School and then transferred to Phillips Exeter Academy. Then he got admission to Harvard University in 2002 to study Psychology and Computer science. There he was in Kirkland House and Alpha epsilon. Mark did not stay for long at Harvard, as programming for Facebook started in 2003. He left the college while in the 2nd year of his degree.
His Interest in Programming
When Mark was 11 years old, he made an Intranet messaging software to send messages to different computers present in his house and his father's dental clinic. His thought was to find out a way to ease communication. He named Zucknet to that Intranet Program.
Again, when he was in High school, he made a sensation and named it Synapse Media Player. It was a program based on machine learning, which plays the music according to the preference of the user. It was such a hit that Microsoft was ready to purchase that and offered a big amount to Mark, but he refused the offer. He uploaded the program on Slashdot for free.
When Mark moved to Harvard, where he made CourseMatch for Harvard students, where they could know which courses were taken by their friends in the college and could form study groups, it was basically a course mate finder.
After that, he made the most sensational Facemash during 2nd year of his college. In this program, he hacked college directories, collected photos of students from different colleges and used them to make a program. This enabled the students to rate the picture of students with just two options that were Hot or NOT. He made this program in a few hours. This program got the traffic of 22000 users and led to the failure of the Harvard Network System within a night. He became very famous among tech nerds but was also held responsible for hacking and using others' data without permission. Later, he apologized for that.
Three senior Harvard students, Cameron Winklevoss, Tyler Winklevoss, and Divya Narendra, were very impressed with Mark's work because he understood his calibre of programming. So, they came to meet mark and shared an idea that was similar to Facebook and asked him to work with them.
The three Harvard seniors came with an offer to Mark to assist them in writing codes for a social network program through which the students of Harvard can interact with each other and feed photos, videos, etc., named HarvardConnection.com.
How Facebook was made
In 2004 Mark started to write code for a program with his four friends, Eduardo Saverin, Chris Hughes, Andrew McCollum, and Dustin Moskovitz, inspired by the idea of his three Harvard seniors and his childhood memory of his Phillips Exeter Academy, which used to publish its directory of students, with photos attached to it, called The Photo Address Book to keep the records of the students and a specific place to get important information about any student of the school. This record book was famous among students at that time as The Facebook in the academy.
So, on February 4th 2004, he launched a program named 'The Facebook', which had the features to interact with other people and can post photos and videos, etc. Initially, it was only accessible to Harvard students. Still, soon it opened to more colleges and universities like New York University, Columbia University, Stanford University, Dartmouth, Cornell, and several other universities.
Its popularity among the students of all these universities guided him to work on it in a full-fledged way. He also understood that to nurture this into a giant. He would need funds and a very good mentor.
It was the time when he left Harvard and took a rented house with his four friends in Palo Alto, California. The next thing he did was to find the investor and a good mentor who could guide them in the proper direction because they were good technocrats but new in the business. They met Peter Thiel, a renowned Angel investor of that time in the USA. Peter liked their idea and agreed to invest and also became their mentor. Then Mark set up his office in Silicon Valley in California, and the name of the company changed to only 'Facebook' from 'The Facebook'.
Recently in October 2021, the name of the parent company of Facebook, 'Facebook Inc.', was changed to 'Meta Inc.'. It is changed in view of the future of tech Metaverse. The word Meta means 'Beyond' in the Greek language.
What he does to survive Facebook in the market successfully
Mark has always been unique in his way of handling Facebook. He focussed on a few main things which took Facebook to the top in the social media sector.
1. Either acquire the competitor or destroy it.
This is a traditional approach but very well executed by Facebook. It acquired WhatsApp, which was a threat to Facebook. Mark sensed that WhatsApp could be the future of messaging as it was processing 8 million messages per day, whereas Facebook Messenger was processing only 3 million messages. Mark settled the deal with its founder Brian Actor, which cost him around $19 billion.
The same thing Facebook did with Instagram, as it gained popularity among the masses, and because of its good scope, it was acquired by Facebook for just $1 bn.
And those who did not agree to come up with Facebook got closed because of stiff competition by Facebook like Friendster and Myspace.
2. Continues improvement
Mark knows that to survive in the market, continuous improvement in all aspects is very important, like improvement in product, personnel, technology, work culture, etc.
Facebook has always responded positively to the feedback of its users, and all the changes and up-gradation we see are the result of customers' feedback, like features of the News Feed, Story, etc.
Mark puts great emphasis on the skill enhancement of his employees and giving them a chance to new ideas and fresh talent. For this, Facebook tries different methods like organizing Hackathons and competition between its best developers and outside developers to solve a common problem and identify new talents.
Controversy related to the origin of Facebook
A few days after the launch of 'The Facebook' in February 2004, Mark's three seniors, Tyler Winklevoss, Cameron Winklevoss, and Divya Narendra, complained in the daily newspaper of Harvard University, The Harvard Crimson, accusing him of using their idea of HarvardConnection.com and made Facebook. They filed a suit against Mark, and the matter moved to court, where it was proved that the idea of Facebook was similar to HarvardConnection.com. His three seniors won the case, and the matter was settled for $65 million, which was $20 million in cash and the rest of $45 million in the form of stakes in Facebook.
Other controversies related to Mark
1. Sued by Co-founder Eduardo Saverin
Eduardo Saverin was one of his classmates at Harvard and co-founder of Facebook. In 2005, he sued Mark claiming that Mark spent his funds from Facebook on his personal expenses without his permission. Later this case was closed, and they settled the issue out of court, but the terms of the settlement didn't come out in public.
2. 'Draw Mohammad' contest controversy
In 2010, Mark and his Facebook Co-founders got into a blasphemy case due to a German lady. The German lady organized a Draw Mohammad contest on Facebook. When people of Pakistan and other Muslim nations noticed the contest, they got offended. Immediately, Pakistan's Deputy Attorney General Muhammad Azhar appealed for an investigation and asked Interpol to arrest Mark and his co-founder friend Dustin and Chris for insulting Mohammad. Facebook was banned in Pakistan till the contest was not removed.
3. Hawaiian Land Case
In 2014 Mark bought 700 acres of land on Kauai Island of Hawaii and made a stone wall around the property. But some of the families on the island claimed that they had not sold the land, and they were the inherited legal owner of the land, and their land was occupied by Mark.
Then Mark filed eight 'quiet title and partition' suits against those Hawaiian locals to sell the land. Hawaiian natives posted on Facebook that Mark is forcing them to sell their land. This brought great outrage among the public against Mark.
Consequently, Mark came up with an apology that he would withdraw all cases, and he was not aware that the land sale rules of Hawaiian Island are different from other states of the USA.
4. Erroneous claim by Paul Ceglia
Paul Ceglia of New York filed a lawsuit against Mark and claimed to get the 84% stake in Facebook and other monetary claims in June 2010. He said that a contract had been signed between him and Mark on April 28th 2003, in which it was promised to pay 50% of the revenue of Facebook to Ceglia and 1% additional interest in business per day after January 1st, 2004, till the launch of Facebook. Then Facebook Authority looked into the matter and found the claim to be completely fallacious.
In October 2012, Ceglia was arrested for putting false allegations on Facebook Founder and for fabricating and eliminating evidence.
5. Controversy related to the breach of personal data norms
In April 2018, Mark appeared before the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation to testify about the role of Facebook in the usage of personal data of users related to the Facebook-Cambridge Analytical data breach.
In October 2020, the same committee issued subpoenas to the CEOs of Facebook, Google, and Twitter to testify about the protection by law from tech platforms under Sec.230 of the Communications Act, 1934.
In response to the US capitol Building attack on January 6th 2021, Mark was called in March 2021 to answer the questions of the Congress members about Facebook's role in the attack.
Mark Zuckerberg in movies and shows
The Social Network was a movie released on October 1st 2010, presenting the life of Mark and how he made Facebook. His character was played by Jesse Eisenberg. The story of the movie was taken from the book The Accidental Billionaires authored by Ben Mezrich.
Mark appeared in a documentary named Terms and Conditions May Apply and again in a rap battle between him and Elon Musk, and the name of the show was Epic Rap Battles of History. He also did a voiceover of himself in an episode of The Simpsons titled Loan-a-Lisa.
A well-known Philanthropist
Mark and his wife Priscilla tried to help society which gave them such high success. They founded the Education Foundation, under which they gave a donation of $100 million to Newark Public School in 2010.
In 2013, Mark donated 18 million shares of Facebook to Silicon Valley Community Foundation, worth $990 mn. which was regarded as the highest donation for 2013 and placed the couple at the top of the list of America's top philanthropists, according to The Chronicle of Philanthropy magazine of 2013 edition.
In 2015, when Ebola Virus spread in the West African nation, the couple donated $ 25 mn. for its treatment.
In December 2015, Chan Zuckerberg Foundation was established, under which they pledged to donate 99% of their shares of Facebook. This fund is to be used for philanthropy throughout the course of their lifetime.
Recently during the Covid-19 pandemic, Mark donated $25 mn. to a foundation backed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which works for the discovery and treatment of diseases. He also sanctioned a grant of $25 mn for the support of journalism for their courageous job during the pandemic.
Therefore, we can conclude that Mark is a person with high-tech skills, and in the course of time, he has become more calm, friendly, and generous, which helped him to build this gigantic Meta community.
Above all these, the quality which gave him so much success is that he did only that work which he liked the most, in which he had proficiency, and that's the key to his success.