Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company That Is Connecting the World

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9780753522752: Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company That Is Connecting the World

Today - six years after it was created in a Harvard dorm room - over 500 million people use Facebook regularly, in just about every country on earth. That a company this powerful and influential was started as a lark by a couple of 19-year-olds makes it a fascinating and surprising tale. That one of them, the visionary Mark Zuckerberg, had the maturity, strategic smarts and luck to keep his company ahead of its rivals anchors the tale. With exclusive inside access to all the company's leaders David Kirkpatrick tells of the vision, the tenacity, the refusal to compromise, and the vision Zuckerberg has to remake the internet. A brilliant and fascinating cast of characters created Facebook and Kirkpatrick has interviewed all of them. Never before have Zuckerberg and his closest colleagues told what really happened as they built their dynamo while eating fast food, staying up all night, and thumbing their noses at how things are usually done.

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About the Author:

David Kirkpatrick was for many years the senior editor for internet and technology at Fortune magazine. While at Fortune he wrote cover stories about Apple, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Sun, and numerous other technology subjects. More recently he organized the Techonomy conference on the centrality of technology innovation for all human activity. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and appears frequently on television, radio, and the Internet as an expert on technology. He lives in New York.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

1
The Beginning

“We have opened up Thefacebook for popular consumption at Harvard University.”

Sophomore Mark Zuckerberg arrived at his dorm room in Harvard’s Kirkland House in September 2003 dragging an eight-foot-long whiteboard, the geek’s consummate brainstorming tool. It was big and unwieldy, like some of the ideas he would diagram there. There was only one wall of the four-person suite long enough to hold it—the one in the hallway on the way to the bedrooms. Zuckerberg, a computer science major, began scribbling away.

The wall became a tangle of formulas and symbols sprouting multicolored lines that wove this way and that. Zuckerberg would stand in the hall staring at it all, marker in hand, squeezing against the wall if someone needed to get by. Sometimes he would back into a bedroom doorway to get a better look. “He really loved that whiteboard,” recalls Dustin Moskovitz, one of Zuckerberg’s three suite-mates. “He always wanted to draw out his ideas, even when that didn’t necessarily make them clearer.” Lots of his ideas were for new services on the Internet. He spent endless hours writing software code, regardless of how much noncomputing classwork he might have. Sleep was never a priority. If he wasn’t at the whiteboard he was hunched over the PC at his desk in the common room, hypnotized by the screen. Beside it was a jumble of bottles and wadded-up food wrappers he hadn’t bothered to toss.

Right away that first week, Zuckerberg cobbled together Internet software he called Course Match, an innocent enough project. He did it just for fun. The idea was to help students pick classes based on who else was taking them. You could click on a course to see who was signed up, or click on a person to see the courses he or she was taking. If a cute girl sat next to you in Topology, you could look up next semester’s Differential Geometry course to see if she had enrolled in that as well, or you could just look under her name for the courses she had enrolled in. As Zuckerberg said later, with a bit of pride at his own prescience, “you could link to people through things.” Hundreds of students immediately began using Course Match. The status-conscious students of Harvard felt very differently about a class depending on who was in it. Zuckerberg had written a program they wanted to use.

Mark Zuckerberg was a short, slender, intense introvert with curly brown hair whose fresh freckled face made him look closer to fifteen than the nineteen he was. His uniform was baggy jeans, rubber sandals—even in winter—and a T-shirt that usually had some sort of clever picture or phrase. One he was partial to during this period portrayed a little monkey and read “Code Monkey.” He could be quiet around strangers, but that was deceiving. When he did speak, he was wry. His tendency was to say nothing until others fully had their say. He stared. He would stare at you while you were talking, and stay absolutely silent. If you said something stimulating, he’d finally fire up his own ideas and the words would come cascading out. But if you went on too long or said something obvious, he would start looking through you. When you finished, he’d quietly mutter “yeah,” then change the subject or turn away. Zuckerberg is a highly deliberate thinker and rational to the extreme. His handwriting is well ordered, meticulous, and tiny, and he sometimes uses it to fill notebooks with lengthy deliberations.

Girls were drawn to his mischievous smile. He was seldom without a girlfriend. They liked his confidence, his humor, and his irreverence. He typically wore a contented expression on his face that seemed to say “I know what I’m doing.” Zuck, as he was known, had an air about him that everything would turn out fine, no matter what he did. It certainly had so far.

On his application for admission to Harvard two years earlier, he could barely fit all the honors and awards he’d won in high school—prizes in math, astronomy, physics, and classical languages. It also noted he was captain and most valuable player on the fencing team and could read and write French, Hebrew, Latin, and ancient Greek. (His accent was awful, so he preferred ancient languages he didn’t have to speak, he told people with typical dry humor.) Harvard’s rarefied social status was neither intimidating nor unfamiliar. He’d attended the elite Phillips Exeter Academy, where you are expected to proceed to the Ivy League. He’d transferred there as a kind of lark. He’d gotten bored after two years at a public high school in Dobbs Ferry, New York, north of New York City.

Zuckerberg is the second-oldest of four children of a dentist father and a psychologist mother, and the only boy. The family home, though the largest in the neighborhood, remains modest. Its dental office in the basement is dominated by a giant aquarium. The elder Zuckerberg, something of a ham, is known as “painless Dr Z.” His website announces “We cater to cowards,” and a sign outside the home office shows a satirical scene of a wary dental patient. Mark’s sisters, like him, are academic stars. (His older sister Randi is now a senior marketer at Facebook.) From his early years Zuckerberg had a technical bent: the theme of his bar mitzvah was “Star Wars.”

The suite was one of the smallest in Kirkland House. Each of the two bedrooms came with bunk beds and a small desk. Zuckerberg’s roommate was Chris Hughes, a handsome, tow-headed, openly gay literature and history major with an interest in public policy. They dismantled the bunks—it was fairer, they decided, if nobody had to sleep on top. But now the two single beds took up almost all the space. There was hardly room to move. The desk was useless anyway—it was piled high with junk. In the other bedroom was Moskovitz, a hardworking, Brillo-haired economics major who was himself no intellectual slouch, and his roommate, Billy Olson, an amateur thespian with an impish streak.

Each boy had a desk in the common room. In between were a couple of easy chairs. It was, like the entire suite, a mess. Zuckerberg had a habit of accumulating detritus on his desk and nearby tables. He’d finish a beer or a Red Bull, put it down, and there it would stay for weeks. Occasionally Moskovitz’s girlfriend would get fed up and throw out some garbage. Once, when Zuckerberg’s mother visited, she looked around the room embarrassedly and apologized to Moskovitz for her son’s untidiness. “When he was growing up he had a nanny,” she explained.

This warren of tiny rooms on the third floor pushed the boys toward greater intimacy than they might have shared under less constrained conditions. Zuckerberg was by nature blunt, even sometimes brutally honest—a trait he may have acquired from his mother. Though he could be taciturn he was also the leader, simply because he so often started things. A habit of straight talk became the norm in this suite. There weren’t a lot of secrets here. The four got along in part because they knew where each stood. Rather than getting on one another’s nerves, they got into one another’s projects.

The Internet was a perennial theme. Moskovitz, who had little training in computing but a natural penchant for it, kept up a constant repartee with Zuckerberg about what did and did not make sense online, what would or would not make a good website, and what might or might not happen as the Internet continued its inroads into every sphere of modern life. At the beginning of the semester, Hughes had zero interest in computing. But by midyear he too had become fascinated by the constant discussion of programming and the Internet, and started chiming in with his own ideas, as did Moskovitz’s roommate, Olson. As Zuckerberg came up with each new programming project, the other three boys had plenty of opinions on how he should build it.

In the common room of Suite H33 in Kirkland House, Ivy League privilege and high geekdom converged. What happened there turns out not to have been common, but at the time it seemed pretty routine. Zuckerberg was hardly the only entrepreneur beavering away on a business in his dorm room. That wasn’t too noteworthy at Harvard. Down every hall were gifted and privileged children of the powerful.

It’s presumed at Harvard that these kids are the ones who will go on to rule the world. Zuckerberg, Moskovitz, and Hughes were just three eggheads who loved to talk about ideas. They didn’t think much about ruling the world. But from their funky, crowded dorm room would emerge an idea with the power to change it.

Emboldened by the unexpected success of Course Match, Zuckerberg decided to try out some other ideas. His next project, in October, he called Facemash. It gave the Harvard community its first look at his rebellious irreverent side. Its purpose: figure out who was the hottest person on campus. Using the kind of computer code otherwise used to rank chess players (perhaps it could also have been used for fencers), he invited users to compare two different faces of the same sex and say which one was hotter. As your rating got hotter, your picture would be compared to hotter and hotter people.

A journal he kept at the time, which for some reason he posted along with the software, suggests Zuckerberg got onto this jag while upset about a girl. “——— is a bitch. I need to think of something to make to take my mind off her,” he wrote, adding “I’m a little intoxicated, not gonna lie.” Perhaps that pique is what led him to the idea, mused about in the journal, of comparing students to farm animals. Instead, according to the journal, Billy Olson came up with the idea of comparing people to other people and only occasionally putting in a farm animal. By the time the program launched, the animals were gone completely. “Another ...

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Descripción Ebury Publishing, United Kingdom, 2011. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Upd. ed.. Language: English . Brand New Book. Today - six years after it was created in a Harvard dorm room - over 500 million people use Facebook regularly, in just about every country on earth. That a company this powerful and influential was started as a lark by a couple of 19-year-olds makes it a fascinating and surprising tale. That one of them, the visionary Mark Zuckerberg, had the maturity, strategic smarts and luck to keep his company ahead of its rivals anchors the tale. With exclusive inside access to all the company s leaders David Kirkpatrick tells of the vision, the tenacity, the refusal to compromise, and the vision Zuckerberg has to remake the internet. A brilliant and fascinating cast of characters created Facebook and Kirkpatrick has interviewed all of them. Never before have Zuckerberg and his closest colleagues told what really happened as they built their dynamo while eating fast food, staying up all night, and thumbing their noses at how things are usually done. Nº de ref. de la librería AAZ9780753522752

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Descripción Ebury Publishing, United Kingdom, 2011. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Upd. ed.. Language: English . Brand New Book. Today - six years after it was created in a Harvard dorm room - over 500 million people use Facebook regularly, in just about every country on earth. That a company this powerful and influential was started as a lark by a couple of 19-year-olds makes it a fascinating and surprising tale. That one of them, the visionary Mark Zuckerberg, had the maturity, strategic smarts and luck to keep his company ahead of its rivals anchors the tale. With exclusive inside access to all the company s leaders David Kirkpatrick tells of the vision, the tenacity, the refusal to compromise, and the vision Zuckerberg has to remake the internet. A brilliant and fascinating cast of characters created Facebook and Kirkpatrick has interviewed all of them. Never before have Zuckerberg and his closest colleagues told what really happened as they built their dynamo while eating fast food, staying up all night, and thumbing their noses at how things are usually done. Nº de ref. de la librería AAZ9780753522752

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