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Mark Zuckerberg Biography

Mark Zuckerberg: The Face Behind Facebook

by poonam bisht

Facebook has changed the face of communication. It has compressed the world into one big forum through which we are efficiently connected to people from all corners of the world.…

Facebook has changed the face of communication. It has compressed the world into one big forum through which we are efficiently connected to people from all corners of the world. Today, millions of people have signed in to Facebook, that is to say, practically everybody boasts of a Facebook account and for many their day starts and ends with it. The person behind this immensely popular social networking site is Mark Zuckerberg. Thanks to him, we remain connected 24 x 7.

Mark Zuckerberg’s name pops up the moment we think of Facebook. He has created a platform like no other and this is what makes him stand out from the masses. His sheer brainpower has made him the youngest billionaire and one of the most influential personalities we know of today. The young American programmer and entrepreneur have changed the whole picture of the social media market and in a way no one ever thought possible.

Early Life and Education

Born on May 14, 1984, into a well-to-do and well-educated family in White Plains, New York, Mark Elliot Zuckerberg as he was named showed an early interest in the world of the computers.

His father Edward Zuckerberg is a dentist and mother Karen Kempner a psychiatrist. Zuckerberg has three sisters, Donna, Randi and Arielle. They were brought up together in Dobbs Ferry, New York, which is a small sleepy town, 10 miles north of New York City. Though he became an atheist much later, Zuckerberg had a Jewish upbringing.

Zuckerberg went to Ardsley High School before being shifted to the Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire as a junior student. At Phillips Exeter Academy, he exceled in such subjects as math, physics, astronomy and classical studies and won prizes. He developed interest in fencing, which eventually made him the captain of the school team. But above all his interest in computers remained primary.

His growing interest and seriousness in computers made his parents hire David Newman, a computer tutor. He used to visit him once a week to give him lessons. Newman once admitted that it was hard for him to keep up with the little master who would ask him all sorts of questions related to computers. Zuckerberg undertook a graduate course in computers at Mercy College whilst still in high school.

His keen interest in computers could be ascertained from the fact that at just 12 years of age, he made use of Atari Basic to develop a messaging program which he called “Zucknet”. This program was used in his father’s dental office to pass on information from the computer at the reception to the computer in his room. They also used “Zucknet” within the house to communicate with one another. This was the raw version of what was called AOL’s Instant Messenger.

At a time when children of his age were busy playing games on the computer, Zuckerberg was busy creating those games. In his own words: “I had a bunch of friends who were artists….They’d come over, draw stuff, and I’d build a game out of it.” At high school, he created a music player which went by the name Synapse Media Player. It analyzed a user’s listening habits via machine learning.

While still in high school, he was approached by various IT giants like AOL and Microsoft who not only wanted to buy his software but also wanted to hire him. Zuckerberg is said to have refused all the offers.

His Harvard Days

After his graduation at Exeter in 2002 Zuckerberg enrolled at the prestigious Harvard University. By his second year he made a name for himself as a programming expert. He went on to showcase his talent further by writing a program CourseMatch. The objective of this program was to help students select their subjects based on the lists of courses from other users. He also created Facemash, which could be used to compare the faces of two students to determine which one looked more attractive. Though Facemash became hugely popular, it did not last long as it was considered inappropriate by the school administration.

The Journey of Facebook Begins

2004 saw the first glimpse of Facebook which was then named The Facebook. In this journey he was not alone. He had with him such friends as Dustin Moskovitz, Eduardo Saverin and Chris Huges. The site was created with the aim to allow users to not only create their own profiles, upload photos but also to communicate with other users. A dorm room at Harvard served as its operational center.

Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard to turn his attention solely to Facebook. He moved the company to Palto Alto, California where they rented a small apartment that served as their Facebook office.  Accompanying him to Palto Alto was Moskovitz and some friends. Towards the end of 2004, Facebook welcomed 1 million users.

Zuckerberg eventually started looking for investors. It was Peter Thiel, one of the co-founders of PayPal who turned out to be its first investor. He invested $500,000, which was sufficient enough for Facebook’s immediate goals. Facebook received a great perk after the investment from Accel Partners who allocated $12.7 million for Facebook in 2005. Greylock Partners added an extra $27.5 million dollars. Initially, Facebook could just be operated within Harvard. Gradually Zuckerberg decided to spread it to other schools, colleges, international schools and high school. This boosted the site’s membership which rose to about 5.5 million users by December of 2005. In short, the site began to mushroom, specially after it went beyond the education campus.

Due to the widespread popularity, Facebook was soon opened to the general public. “The Facebook” became “Facebook” in 2005. The site became accessible to anyone who was above the age of 13 by 2006. By the year 2007, Facebook attracted over 100,000 businesses, flooding to list their companies on Facebook and creating their own pages. This was the beginning of what can be best termed as the ‘Facebook fever.’

Along with attracting different users from all walks of life, Facebook attracted the interest of various corporations who wanted to buy Facebook the likes of which included Yahoo! and MTV Networks.  Zuckerberg turned down those lucrative offers. In his own words: “It’s not because of the amount of money. For me and my colleagues, the most important thing is that we create an open information flow for people. Having media corporations owned by conglomerates is just not an attractive idea to me.” He continued to focus on ways to expand Facebook and ways to reach out to a larger audience in a more improvised form.

Challenges faced by Zuckerberg in this Journey

The journey of Facebook like all other journeys of life was not a smooth ride. It had its share of obstacles which Zuckerberg fought doggedly against. When Facebook was just six days old, twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss and Divya Narendra accused Zuckerberg of stealing their idea. They claimed that they had hired Zuckerberg to work on a social network HarvardConnection.com, which they had devised. But Zuckerberg left midway and created Facebook using the original source code. The HarvardConnection.com creators insisted that they be paid for their business loss. There came an initial settlement of $65 million between the two parties but the legal battle continued to bug Zuckerberg till 2011.

Then came another challenge when the 2009 book ‘The Accidental Billionaires’ by Ben Mezrich hit the market. The book which recounted the story of Zuckerberg’s life, contained some fabricated episodes and fictional character which did not have any relation to his life. The book was later made into a movie The Social Network which went on to receive eight Academy Award nominations. Zuckerberg strongly objected to the way his life was portrayed in the film as according to him many of the episodes were completely inaccurate and had no relation to his life. According to David Kirkpatrick, author of The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company That Is Connecting the World (2011) “the film is only “40% true … he is not snide and sarcastic in a cruel way, the way Zuckerberg is played in the movie…a lot of the factual incidents are accurate, but many are distorted and the overall impression is false.”

Yet despite all these glitches, Facebook continued to shine. It had its initial public offering in May 2012, which raised a sum of $16 billion making it the biggest Internet IPO in history. It went on to acquire Instagram, the mobile photo sharing app for $1 billion in cash and stock in April 2012. In March 2014, Facebook acquired Oculus Rift for $2 billion. The next purchase was of WhatsApp for a whopping $22 billion in October 2014.

Philanthropic Causes

For those who know Zuckerberg, his humble and down-to-earth nature is what makes him special despite the fact that he is one of the richest and most influential people in the world. He is a widely known philanthropist and has been engaged in a number of noble deeds. In September of 2010, he made a donation of $100 million in order to help revive the failing Newark Public Schools system in New Jersey. Along with such eminent people like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, Zuckerberg, too, signed a promise under “The Giving Pledge” promising to contribute 50% of his wealth to charity during the course of his life.

Zuckerberg donated 18 million Facebook shares to the Silicon Valley Community on December 19, 2013. He along with his wife Priscilla Chan, donated $25 million to help the victims of Ebola disease in West Africa in October 2014.

Personal Life

Zuckerberg met Priscilla Chan at a party during his sophomore year. They began dating in 2003. Priscilla Chan is the daughter of Chinese-Vietnamese refugees. Born in Braintree, Massachusetts, she studied in Quincy High School.

The two entered wedlock on May 19, 2012. They got married in Zuckerberg’s backyard. The wedding event was clubbed with the celebration of her graduation from medical school.


Zuckerberg’s name appeared under the 2010 Time magazine’s list of the 100 wealthiest and influential people in the world. He was named the most influential Jews in the world by “The Jerusalem Post”. He was conferred the “Person of the Year” in 2010 by Time Magazine.  Zuckerberg occupied the 11th place under 2014 Forbes magazine’s list of the 400 richest people in the United States.

Full Name Mark Elliot Zuckerberg
Born May 14, 1984 (age  31)
Place of Birth White Plains, New York, United States
Residence Palo Alto, California, United States
Alma Mater Harvard University (dropped out)
Occupation Chairman and CEO of Facebook
Known for   Co-founding Facebook in 2004; world’s 2nd youngest self-made billionaire (2012
Salary US $1
Father Edward Zuckerberg
Mother Karen Kempner
Spouse Priscilla Chan  (m.  2012)
Marriage Date 19 May, 2012
Schooling Ardsley High School, Phillips Exeter Academy
College/University Mercy College, Harvard University
Recognition Time Person of the Year (2010)


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