Far from being just the man responsible for the rise of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg is an enigmatic and elusive figure in media today. Here is a quick primer on who Mark Zuckerberg is and what he stands for.
Childhood and Education
Mark Zuckerberg was born on May 14, 1984 in White Plains, New York, the eldest of four children. His father, Edward, was a dentist while his mother, Karen, was a psychiatrist prior to the birth of the couple’s children. When Zuckerberg was 12, he created a messaging program that utilized Atari BASIC; he named the program “Zucknet.” The program was used by his father in his dental practice and around the house by family members so they could communicate with each other. He studied at the exclusive preparatory school Phillips Exeter Academy, which is located in New Hampshire, prior to attending Harvard University, which he dropped out of in his sophomore year.
Mark Zuckerberg is best known for co-founding and creating Facebook, which he developed at Harvard University with three classmates: Divya Narendra, Cameron Winklevoss, and Tyler Winklevoss. Prior to Facebook’s creation, Zuckerberg created CourseMatch, a program developed to help students choose their classes based on selections and reviews by other classmates. He went on to develop Facemash, which was the direct predecessor of Facebook; it used photos of classmates and enabled students to vote on which classmate was more attractive. Zuckerberg then began the prototype to Facebook, which was run out of his dorm room until the summer of 2004. After his sophomore year, Zuckerberg dropped out of college and moved his company to Palo Alto, California, and by the end of the year, Facebook had reached the milestone of one million users. TechCrunch reported in June 2017 that the platform now has two billion monthly users.
Quartz reports that Mark Zuckerberg has a personal net worth of $66 billion. His fortune was amassed when his company, Facebook, went public in 2012. In 2015, Facebook focused on mobile applications and acquisitions, which has skyrocketed the company’s stock. It is now just one of three tech giants that can claim a $300 billion market capitalization. However, because Mark Zuckerberg’s net worth is closely tied in with Facebook, his net worth fluctuates between $80 billion at its peak to just over $50 billion at the beginning of 2017.
Personal Life and Philanthropy
Mark Zuckerberg married his long-term girlfriend, Dr. Priscilla Chan, in 2012; the couple has two daughters. Together the couple has pledged over $4.5 billion to charities, including a one-time donation of $75 million to Chan’s former workplace, San Francisco General Hospital. The couple has also pledged to donate 99 percent of their Facebook shares to the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative in the spirit of The Giving Pledge. Zuckerberg’s personal religious and political views are unknown, but he has stated in the past that he believes that religion is very important.
Mark Zuckerberg has been the focal point of many controversies, none more public than the lawsuit brought against him by his former classmates, Narendra and the Winklevoss Twins, who claimed that Zuckerberg misled them when all parties involved agreed to help each other launch social media networks. The case was settled in 2008 when Facebook and Zuckerberg agreed to transfer 1.2 million common shares and $20 million to the plaintiffs. This was followed by several other lawsuits, including criminal investigations in Pakistan and Israel due to Facebook’s involvement in separate conflicts. The most public controversy, however, remains the fact that under Zuckerberg’s leadership, millions of users’ data was stolen in the so-called Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data breach.
Mark Zuckerberg is a millennial’s dream: a person who has ridden the wave of social media to extreme success.