written by: DebbieHenthorn•edited by: Jean Scheid•updated: 6/24/2011
What prompted Mark Zuckerberg to launch a social networking website like Facebook, what were his entrepreneurial approaches, what difficulties did he face and what is the current state of his company? Find it all here.
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Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook
Born in 1984, Mark Zuckerberg is an entrepreneur who, along with two of his fellow students, founded Facebook while still studying at Harvard. Facebook is a social website that is privately owned, and is used by its members to put up details about themselves through pictures and profiles. It is based on similar sites available to students at various universities. The intention of these sites is to allow students to become better acquainted with one another.
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The Launching of Facebook
Mark Zuckerberg started programming while he was in high school and was happiest when devising programs for games and tools for communication. While in school he developed a program to help the workers in his father’s office communicate with each other. He also developed a music player that used artificial intelligence to learn users' listening habits. This was when he came to the attention of Microsoft and AOL. Both organizations tried to recruit him, while offering to buy up his developed music player software.
Mark Zuckerberg preferred to stay out of these corporations and opted instead to go to Harvard. His days at his previous school Philips Exeter Academy stayed with him and he got his idea for Facebook from the annual student directory that the Academy used to publish every year giving photos and profiles of all its student and faculty. This publication was also called "Facebook" and it inspired Zuckerberg to develop the idea as a social site meant only for his classmates at Harvard. The site was launched from his room in the college in the year 2004. Its popularity lead to other colleges asking for it. Mark Zuckerberg first allowed it to the colleges that had social contact with Harvard – like Stanford, Dartmouth, Columbia, Cornell and Yale. Within months the social site spread to over forty-five schools and was being used by hundreds of thousands of people.
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The Development of Facebook
Zuckerberg saw the need to incorporate his Facebook activities and set up an office in Palo Alto in California, while planning to return to Harvard for the new scholastic year. But he soon became so engrossed in the activities of his company that he never went back to college as a student.
In 2007, Zuckerberg announced a Facebook Platform that allowed programmed developers to create social applications within the website. This led to the phenomenal development of the site with over 400,000 developers vying with each other to put up their applications on Facebook. This has led to users of Facebook now being numbered in millions and becoming a social networking site that is in use all over the world.
In 2008, Zuckerberg announced the formation of Facebook Connect which allowed the building of similar social applications on websites other than Facebook. Earlier in 2006, Mark Zuckerberg had also launched News Feed which allowed a user to see what their friends were doing on the site. Facebook Beacon is another of the developments of Facebook that allow a user to share information based on their browsing activities.
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Mark Zuckerberg and Controversies
A few of Mark Zuckerberg’s classmates at Harvard claimed that the idea of Facebook was stolen from them and filed a lawsuit against him as far back as 2004.The suit was dismissed in 2007 but was re-filed soon after. The case was settled by the contenders ConnectU after Facebook agreed to pay them $65 million to settle the case. His development of News Feed also led to a lot of controversy with users alleging that it encouraged cyber stalking. Mark Zuckerberg was also in hot water with Harvard authorities during his sojourn there for hacking into the university's computers.He managed to evade all of the charges made for invasion of privacy, copyright and security and thus avoided expulsion. Facebook has also got in problems with a number of countries for problems caused by the website. It is also largely in disfavor in many corporations where it is banned from being accessed as it is felt the employees get distracted by their Facebook activities.
Mark Zuckerberg has now built up a website that is valued at $15 billion and is considered among the list of the 400 richest people in America. He sold 1.6 percent of the stake of his company to Microsoft for $240 million. This allows Microsoft to use Facebook to place its ads globally.