In November of 2009, I read The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich which was a story the Founding of
Facebook and my impression based on the book was that Facebook’s founder Marc Zuckerberg screwed everyone on his way to building Facebook. I have recently just finished reading The Facebook Effect by David Kirkpatrick and I have a different opinion of Marc Zuckerberg. Now I think he showed a lot of maturity and poise as he and the Facebook team met the challenges of growing and scaling Facebook into a network of over 500 million users, and I do not think that he screwed anyone.
I do not think that the lawsuit filed against Marc Zuckerberg by Harvard students Cameron Winklevoss, Tyler Winklevoss, and Divya Narendra held much merit as Zuckerberg did not sign a contract with them and in 2004, there were many examples of Social Networking companies like Live Journal, Friendster and Linkedin. I think it is a stretch to say that the Harvard Students came up with the Social idea and Zuckerberg stole it, as there were many other colleges doing the same thing, and you have to give Zuckerberg credit for executing on his idea, and then growing it past the college market.
I do think that Mark forced Eduardo out but Eduardo also shares some responsibility as Facebook was growing and Eduardo and Mark were fighting over money and control. Both Mark and Eduardo could have handled that situation better, however Eduardo eventually signed a shareholder agreement that allotted him 3 million shares of common stock for which he agreed to hand over all relevant intellectual property along with his voting rights to Mark Zuckerberg. Since that time Mark has reissued more stock diluting Eduardo’s shares, however Eduardo is still a very rich man with about 5% of Facebook stock.
What really changed my mind was reading about Zuckerberg’s passion to grow the business and to put growth before making money. According to David Kirkpatrick, Zuckerberg turn down many chances to sell Facebook but instead wanted to grow the service and make it into a utility. If Marc was just out to make a quick buck, he would have taken the money and run, however he did not. However Marc does come across as being obsessed with control of his company but who could really blame him.
I have not seen the movie the Social Network but now I will view it from a different perspective. I recently watched Zuckerberg’s interview at the Web 2.0 Summit 2010 and like what I heard from Zuckerberg. Two points that I heard more than once in Marc’s talk were:
- “over the next five years almost every major product vertical is going to get rethought to be social”
- “designed around people”
Other thoughts from Marc were:
- “Facebook’s value system errors on the side of openness and portability”
- feedback that we hear a lot is “we want control of the information that we put on the site” and a lot of people are asking for user control.
- “Our default is to build an open platform, the stuff that we work on like groups location messages are like really core parts and are either distribution channels or we view are the foundational building blocks of the social graph.”