I bought this book on my Amazon Kindle a few weeks ago, and have been reading it in my spare time. It’s a fascinating story that is much more balanced then the book which the movie The Social Network was based on. Far from the villain/asshole that that film made him out to be, we get a real insight into what motivated Mark Zuckerberg to create Facebook and how he’s helped it grow.
First, with all the controversy about whether or not he “stole” the idea from the Winkelvoss Twins, the book shows excepts from their original proposal for HarvardConnection.com, and it was clearly going to be closer to a dating site than a social network. Plus, the idea for an “online facebook” for Harvard had been talked about by others for a few years, as many students had pressed the administration to create one (it had also been proposed @ many other colleges), Zuckerberg just decided to create one himself. What I also found interesting, and why I think Facebook is going to last although I keep seeing people online predicting it’s eventual demise ala Friendster and Myspace, is how Zuckerberg and his partner were determined from the beginning to avoid the mistakes of previous social networks. This is why they didn’t expand too quickly, keeping it @ Harvard before slowly expanding to other Ivy League schools, and then other colleges, then high schools, before finally opening up to the public. They always wanted to make sure their servers could handle the traffic, and avoid any blackouts like Friendster and Myspace were always having back in the day. And regarding the expansion, it was very ingenious they way they did it. Some colleges finally started developing their own online facebooks, so Facebook would then go and open @ all of the colleges around it, so when students would want to connect with other students in the same city, they’d need to be on Facebook, which would create more demand.
Also, unlike the movie which had Zuckerberg being mainly focused on being “cool,” the book says that’s the exact opposite of what he wanted. Friendster lived and died by how cool it was. Zuckerberg knows how fads eventually fade away, so he doesn’t want Facebook to be some fad. His goal is to make Facebook a “utility”, something that people just automatically use, without even thinking about it. That makes total sense. Look @ Google. Even mighty Microsoft can’t dethrone google has the default search engine of the internet. Heck, google has become a verb, folks don’t say they’ll look up something, they say “I’ll google it.” If Facebook can get that kind of brand loyalty, and @ 500 million members worldwide it’s on its way, then it will be unstoppable. There are also many anecdotes about the temptation to sell the company, as many bigger entities made lots of offers. It’s hard to imagine turning down $2 billion, unless you have a LOT of faith in your own ability.
I very highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to know the real story.