How Facebook Started

by Barbara J. Feldman on April 19, 2011

Facebook has 600 million users worldwide, and literally became an overnight success.  The concept took shape on campus at Harvard University in 2004, after the site’s designer, Mark Zuckerberg came up with an idea.  He had experimented with a simple program that pitted photographs of two campus students together for members to decide who was “hotter”.  There was a problem with his initial concept, however, as the photographs he used were snatched from the university database which he hacked to gain illegal access.  Harvard quickly shut the website down, but the idea lingered for Zuckerberg.  He designed a new website that allowed the voluntary posting of real identities, voluntarily this time, and launched the website a month later under the title “thefacebook.com”.  He and his 3 partners, Dustin Moskovitz, Eduardo Saverin, and Chris Hughes soon realized that they had created a phenomenon.

Exponential Growth

Within months the website had encompassed the campuses of Harvard, Yale, Columbia, and Stanford, and the accelerated growth only perpetuated.  When investors began calling, the group decided to change the name to Facebook.com and offer the profile capabilities to high school students, as well.  The sky seemed to be the limit, but there was trouble on the horizon.

Controversy Strikes

There have been many claims that Mark Zuckerberg had actually stolen the idea from a trio of campus seniors that had hired him to design their social networking website.  Their design was coined Harvardconnection.com, was released shortly before Facebook made an appearance on the social networking scene.  The issue eventually ended up in court where the prosecution contested that Zuckerberg had been stalling the completion of Harvardconnetion.com intentionally to give him time to complete his own rendition of the same idea.  The case never saw a verdict, however, as the matter was settled out of court.

The drama didn’t stop there for Facebook, as minority shareholder Eduardo Saverin learned that Zuckerberg had dropped his share percentage from nearly 25% to hundredths of a percent.  The Facebook founder soon found himself back in the courtroom, and Saverin ended up with a 5% stake in the social networking giant.

Facebook now generated $500 million dollars in revenue annually and is showing no signs of slowing.  Creating revenue through advertising dollars continues to funnel money into the concept, but the trouble may not be over for Facebook.  Instead, the investors are seeking returns on their investment money and despite their patience, there will come a time when the bill comes due.  Sure, there seems to be plenty of money to go around, but there are so many factors involved, no one is quite sure where the situation will end up.

From its humble creation in a Harvard dorm room to the half a billion dollar mega-website it has become, Facebook has a story that will rival any company’s rise to power tale.  Mark Zuckerberg created the website, despite the controversy, and with help, created one of the most visited sites in the world.  The beginning of the tale may be over, but there are sure to be fireworks in Facebook’s future.

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Cite This Page

Feldman, Barbara. "How Facebook Started." Surfnetkids. Feldman Publishing. 19 Apr. 2011. Web. 31 Aug. 2014. <http://www.surfnetkids.com/tech/812/how-facebook-started/ >.