You’ve likely seen or at least heard about 2010’s Academy Award winning film The Social Network. It’s about Facebook and the young man who founded it, Mark Zuckerberg, who is the chairperson and chief executive of the company. He came into success and wealth at a very young age—he created Facebook during his college years at Harvard University and became a billionaire at the age of 23! Now considered among the 100 wealthiest and most influential people in the world by Time magazine, Zuckerberg is a wealthy altruist whose personality isn’t as dramatic or wicked as The Social Network would have you believe.
Born May 14, 1984, Zuckerberg grew up primarily in Dobbs Ferry, New York. His family was Jewish and his parents raised him with his three sisters. He excelled in his high school studies, winning prizes and captaining the fencing team. He was already dabbling with computers and writing software, learning from a private tutor who described Zuckerberg as a “prodigy”. Before AOL’s Instant Messenger program came out, he had already set up a communication program that his father’s dental practice utilized. He started a company called Intelligent Media Group and built a music player called the Synapse Media Player all before he left high school; Microsoft and AOL tried to purchase Synapse from him, but he refused and enrolled at Harvard in 2002.
In college, Zuckerberg continued computer programming at his years in Harvard, continuing to achieve success in his studies and private ventures. He created a precursor to Facebook called Facemash, which functioned as a way for people to rate other people’s photos in terms of attractiveness. Created on a weekend, Facemash was shut down by Harvard on Monday morning because its popularity had overwhelmed the school’s computer network. In January 2004, he began coding a new version of the website and launched it in February. After settling a lawsuit with three Harvard seniors claiming that he was using their ideas for his own project (and thus profited from their intellectual property), Zuckerberg dropped out during his sophomore year to finish work on Facebook.
Facebook quickly found worldwide success, and now has an estimated 1.1 billion active users. That makes it one of the most popular and influential websites in the world. Zuckerberg lives with his wife Priscilla in Palo Alto, CA and is the founder of Start-up: Education, a foundation that is dedicated to bettering public school systems. His hard work and dedication are what brought him success at so young an age—Zuckerberg is a great role model to demonstrate to kids how much they can achieve by taking an active interest in learning and putting their education into practice. We love that kind of perseverance and gumption! Happy birthday, Mark Zuckerberg! Can we borrow some money?