10 Things You Should Know about Facebook Inventor Mark Zuckerberg & His Creation: Top 10 Facts About Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook
Mark Zuckerberg is one of the youngest billionaires ever- being only 8 days too old to hold the title. Everyone knows who he is and what he has done for the Internet with the invention and wildfire spread of his social networking site, Facebook. Yet, he remains one of the most controversial figures in Silicon Valley, constantly under fire from allegations ranging from the theft of the idea for Facebook to privacy concerns. Zuckerberg has been an advocate of technology since he was 10 years old and both the mission and actions of Facebook have demonstrated this with the purchases of some of the coolest companies in tech to a new initiative to bring the Internet to the entire world. Despite being the infamous founder of the world’s largest social networking site, there are a lot of things people don’t know about Mark Zuckerberg, and as Zuckerberg himself will tell you, David Fincher’s Oscar winning film The Social Network has not helped the matter.Here are ten things you should know about Mark Zuckerberg:
10. Zuckerberg Is a Private Person Who Wants to Make the World a More Open Place
Zuckerberg gives very few interviews and considers himself to be a private person. But, his job has increasingly required that he do large events and speak on stage. Zuckerberg is often criticized after these events because he is not the showman that other tech giants are. For instance, he doesn’t have the calm, collected manner of the late Steve Jobs, nor does he have the crazed enthusiasm of Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer. Some have complained that Zuckerberg is a “robot” and that he has been “overprogrammed.” Interviewers have described him as speaking as though it were an instant message with few words and a flat voice. When asked if he is the same person on stage that he is with his friends, he agrees and says that he is indeed the same awkward person wherever he is.
The release of the film “The Social Network” did not improve Zuckerberg’s public image. After the release of the film, which is supposed to be based on the events surrounding the foundation of Facebook, Zuckerberg described the film as “kind of hurtful.” He insists that both the writer, Aaron Sorkin, and the director, David Fincher, embellished his life to create a more interesting film. In reality, coding is not glamorous and Zuckerberg did not create Facebook to spite a girlfriend after a break up. In fact, he was already dating his future wife at the time. Zuckerberg has said that his goal was never to make Facebook cool because he does not consider himself a cool person nor does he try to be. What he wants is for Facebook to be useful.
9. Zuckerberg Dropped out of Harvard to Devote His Time to Facebook
Zuckerberg was Harvard material. His application listed speaking five languages and he had an education in classics which he enjoyed. He was approached by both Microsoft and AOL while he was still in high school, and he is often described as having a brilliant and focused mind. Zuckerberg was accepted by Harvard to join the graduating class of 2006 to study psychology, which fascinated him. Zuckerberg insisted that he would finish college before his sister having no intentions of dropping out. When he arrived at Harvard, he found that programming was more interesting than his classes and he admits to having a rather scarce studying schedule.
Zuckerberg admits that most people in his life thought he would drop out of school long before he actually did. Although he wasn’t sure at the time that Facebook would become a viable company, his visit to Palo Alto inspired him to see where his coding mind might take him. While in Palo Alto, his first big investor wrote him a big check, insisting that Zuckerberg would drop out of school, even if Zuckerberg himself didn’t know it yet. His parents also always knew he would not finish college. But, Zuckerberg is not an advocate of leaving post-secondary education behind. He insists that it is a time for young people to explore their minds and develop new hobbies and interests.
Other famous dropouts include Michael Dell of Dell, Bill Gates of Microsoft, Steve Jobs of Apple, Larry Page of Google, Evan Williams of Twitter, David Karp of Tumblr (who dropped out of high school at 14!) All of these guys are billionaires, some several times over, and all of them have had a dramatic impact on both the tech industry as programmers and the world as philanthropists.
8. Mark Zuckerberg Insists That There Needs to Be More Women in Technology
He says that young women should be encouraged to do computer science by older women in the industry, but at the same time, there are not enough women in the industry to do so. It is a vicious cycle but Zuckerberg insists that tech companies need to do better because more diverse companies do greater things. Facebook has started a program that pays for their female employees to freeze their eggs should they want to delay plans to have a family to further their careers at the company. Women would no longer have to leave at critical moments in their careers to have children or care for their families. This program benefits both Facebook and its employees. Facebook is not alone in this uncommon movement, either. Apple has also announced a similar program for it’s employees. Facebook and LinkedIn have also announced a collaborative initiative to boost the number of women studying engineering and computer science. The initiative includes both mentoring and support programs at colleges across the country.
Facebook is home to Chief Operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, who is worth $1.1 billion and is one of the wealthiest women in technology. In 2013, Sandberg published her book, “Lean In,” in which she described some of her personal experiences to encourage women to pursue the top positions in their fields. Her book launched international conversation about women in positions in power.
7. Facebook Was Voted the Best Company to Work for in 2013
Zuckerberg has indisputably changed the Internet with his hyper-successful company. But, Facebook the workplace is not doing too badly either. In 2012, Facebook employed 4,619 people and came in third on the list of the best companies to work that year. But, in 2013, Zuckerberg and Facebook topped the list. Employees can count foosball, an annual video game day and ping pong in the office as benefits of working for the company. Facebook also gives employees who have become new parents $4,000 in spending money in order to ensure their family has all they need following the birth or adoption of their child. Facebook’s campus is laid out like a small village and includes a bank, a dentist, a doctor, a gym, a barbershop, dry cleaners, coffee shops, sushi restaurants and other leisure opportunities. Employees cite that the best aspects of working at Facebook include the stock options, the food, plenty of work to do, the learning potential and the ability to set your own hours with little interference from management. There are no cubicles in Facebook and Zuckerberg’s office is little different from anyone else’s – laying down a more egalitarian working environment.
However, it is not all sunshine and “likes” at one of the world’s most famous tech companies. Employees cite that the politics in the office can be very intense, especially as outside pressure increases. Some say that the vision for product development comes in too late, and that they need more organization both in product development and within the organization as a whole. More than one employee has stated that the management is inexperienced, and it is true that Facebook has had problems recruiting top tech talent in the industry. This could be due to the relaxed atmosphere that some people simply cannot be productive in.
6. Facebook’s Logo and Interface Are Blue Because Mark Zuckerberg Is Red-Green Colorblind
Have you ever wondered why Facebook has a blue theme? Zuckerberg has often remarked that the reason Facebook is blue is because blue is the color he can see best, and he can see all shades of blue. His house is also painted in various shades of blue and beige. You see, Zuckerberg has re-green color blindness, and he learned that he had this common condition after taking an online test. Red-green colorblindness is the most common form of colorblindness, and red-green colorblindness means that much of the whole color spectrum can be affected with confusion happening between reds, greens, oranges, browns, purples, pinks and grays. Statistically, those with a moderate form of red-green colorblindness will only be able to correctly identify 5 colored pencils from a standard box of 24 pencils. Color-blindness affects around 1 in 12 men around the world. There are a few causes of developed color-blindness but in most cases it is genetic and inherited from the mother. It can also happen as a result of disease, aging or as an adverse effect of medication.
5. Aaron Sorkin Was Listed as Zuckerberg’s Favorite Director – Until He Wrote “The Social Network”
Zuckerberg is a private guy and doesn’t like having his private life displayed by people who aren’t a part of it, especially when they get the details wrong. The screenplay was written by Aaron Sorkin of “West Wing” fame. Sorkin’s style is known for being high brow, quippy and full of melodic speeches. But, Zuckerberg said in a few interviews that he found the blatant mistruths in the script hurtful. The drama surrounding Facebook is intriguing enough without an insinuation that Zuckerberg’s life work was created to attract girls. Zuckerberg insists that the real story would depict Zuckerberg coding for hours at a time but he realizes that this is not glamorous enough for Hollywood.
Zuckerberg always liked Aaron Sorkin, and he was even listed on Zuckerberg’s Facebook page as a favorite director. But, after the film was released, Zuckerberg appears to have removed him from his page. Aaron Sorkin has since apologized and expressed his sympathy for Zuckerberg saying that he didn’t set out to try to hurt Zuckerberg’s feelings. Sorkin is sorry that Zuckerberg was so offended but is probably not all that sorry that he did it. After all, he did win an Oscar, a Golden Globe and a BAFTA for his screenplay. Sorkin admits that he would not want a film made about the things that he did when he was 19 either, and he understands why Zuckerberg is less than enthusiastic about the film.
4. Facebook Was Not Zuckerberg’s First Invention
Zuckerberg began to use his father’s computer at around 10 years old. His father, Ed, was an early advocate of the digital future and bought his first hard drive in 1984. He gave his son programming lessons on the family’s Atari, and he bought each of his four children a computer. A fast learner, Mark began building a program that connected his father’s home and office computers which allowed the family to send messages from one to the other. The family called it ZuckNet.
While in high school, Mark created the Synapse Media Player, which is an app that uses artificial intelligence to read a user’s listening habits and recommend music based on their apparent music tastes. He created it in the early 2000’s and submitted it as a school project. Back in the day, reviews of the app said that is was a very innovative media player, although a bit buggy. Users found it’s brain feature to be amazing and that while it is slow going while it is first learning the user’s music taste, after a while it becomes very impressive. AOL and Microsoft both took notice of the design and tried to convince him to join their ranks while he was still in high school. Zuckerberg turned them both down and instead proceeded to higher education at Harvard University where he would invent Facebook. Microsoft tried to poach Zuckerberg again a few years later, offering to buy Facebook for $15 billion. Once again, Zuckerberg turned them down preferring to go his own way.
For all of the support, both educational and financial, that Mark’s father gave him, he gifted him 2,000,000 shares of Facebook which are now worth about $60 million.
3. Mark’s Wife Priscilla Chan Is Even More Private than He Is
The irony of the couple at the heart of the biggest source of personal information in the world being extremely private is amusing, and even Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, can see that. Chan recently gave one of her first and only interviews on The Today Show where she revealed a number of things about herself and her husband. Chan was a grade school teacher and is now a medical school graduate and hopes to become a pediatrician. She lives a very humble life considering she has been attached to one of the wealthiest and most controversial figures in tech for the last 13 years. Chan’s parents left their home country in a refugee boat seeking a better life for themselves and their future children, and she is the first in her family to graduate from college. Education is very important to her and she and Mark have announced that they are donated $120 million to improve Bay Area public schools. Priscilla admits that the couple want to have kids, but their busy lives mean that they will be putting it off for a while. Besides, they already have a child named Beast, a Hungarian sheepdog who has 1.8 million followers on Facebook and possibly even more hair. Priscilla jokes that Beast is Zuckerberg’s number two priority after Facebook. She finds it strange that the public has so much curiosity about her because she is just the daughter of an immigrant family training to be a doctor, and that is how the people in her life treat her. She laments that it is sad that the public do not see her husband as she knows him, and Priscilla describes Mark as funny, thoughtful, sensitive and caring.
2. Facebook Is Buying up Innovation Left and Right
Facebook does not just want to be a social networking site, instead Zuckerberg dreams of a one stop shop for all online communication and development. Zuckerberg recently bought Whatsapp, a major player in online mobile messaging, for $19 billion. If you have ever wondered how Facebook can suggest who to tag in your uploaded photos, that’s because they also purchased facial recognition software Face.com for somewhere between $55 and $100 million. In the same year, Facebook bought the photo sharing Instagram for $1 billion. While the purchase was scoffed at because Instagram wasn’t profitable, Zuckerberg reiterated his mission of providing an even better sharing experience. Facebook has also purchased location sharing services, advertising software, and other social media feeds including ConnectU. ConnectU is the platform created by the Winklevoss brothers and Facebook purchased it according to a court settlement for cash and a share in Facebook stock.
Facebook also bought the virtual reality firm Oculus VR for $2 billion dollars. Zuckerberg hasn’t announced a specific plan for this massive purchase and so the public will just have to use their imagination for now.
1. Zuckerberg Does Not Want to Simply Change the Internet- He Wants to Bring It to the Whole World
Zuckerberg built the prototype for Facebook.com in only one week, but he is going to take his time in changing the world. Zuckerberg wants to bring Internet access to the other two-thirds of the world’s population because only 2.7 billion people have access right now. Zuckerberg insists that the whole world should get in on the Internet because we’re missing out on the creativity and ingenuity of almost two thirds of the world’s population. Facebook is working with NASA on a new “Connectivity Lab” on Zuckerberg’s latest mission which involves drones, satellites and even laser beams. Zuckerberg hasn’t released a timeline yet for his massive project, but he has said that over the last year, 3 million people now have access to the Internet that didn’t before in the countries of Paraguay and the Philippines. This venture, entitled Internet.org, is working with manufacturer’s of mobile internet device and technology companies to achieve the massive goal of bringing the Internet to the entire world’s population. Zuckerberg has even issued a call to arms to Google, with whom they compete for advertising space, saying that everyone should be participating in this coalition because a bigger Internet is better for everyone.
Internet.org has recently come under fire for supposedly violating the idea of net neutrality. Zuckerberg says that programs like his can co-exist with net neutrality and that having some connectivity is better than having no connectivity at all. Net neutrality has been a hot button issue in the last few years. It is a movement against internet providers like Comcast, who want to charge more data to visit certain websites. This practice is seen as discriminatory and Zuckerberg will have to face it sooner or later or face the wrath of the 5 billion new people he has worked so hard to connect to the Internet.
Mark Zuckerberg is one of a number of young CEOs in Silicon Valley, but he is also one of the wealthiest and most controversial. He runs a company that provides a product that 1 billion people want to use, and that many people want to work at. His employees praise his egalitarian office structure but some lament the lack of organization in the young company. Facebook constantly surprises with new innovations and opened the gate for an entirely new use of the Internet. The man behind it is a private man but is described by those around him as a man with a big heart. Zuckerberg says that he created Facebook to be useful, not to be cool but it appears that he may have accomplished both.