As a psychology student and avid computer programmer, Zuckerburg’s forays into the world of social networking did not start with Facebook. Prior to Facebook was Coursematch, a networking site that allowed students to view other people who were pursuing the same degree as themselves, and Facemash, which allowed college students to rate other peers’ attractiveness based solely on photos of their faces.
In January 2004, Zuckerburg began writing code for a new social networking project called, “thefacebook.” The idea was sparred from his creation of Facemash as a way to connect college students. The name was derived from the Harvard face book papers given to freshmen at the university, profiling students and staff. Zuckerburg shared his creation with some close friends, who suggested he put his site on his dormitory’s mailing list which included 300 people. Within 24 hours, between 1200-1500 students had registered to use the site.
Zuckerburg quickly ran into trouble with his creation. Just six days after the site’s launch, three Harvard seniors, Cameron Winklevoss, Tyler Winklevoss, and Divya Narendra claimed to have been misled by Zuckerburg, who had allegedly promised to help them build a website to connect Harvard students called “HavardConnection.com.” They accused Zuckerburg of using their idea to create a competitive site. They filed a lawsuit against Zuckerburg and eventually settled for $65 million in 2008.
The site was initially only open to students at Harvard, and over half of the student population became registered users by the end of the first month. Zuckerburg quickly formed a team to work with including Eduardo Saverin (business aspects), Dustin Moskovitz (programmer), Andrew McCollum (graphic artist), and Chris Hughes. Just months later, Facebook expanded to include other Ivy League and Boston-area schools. It then moved on to most other Canadian and United States schools before the end of 2004. Sean Parker, an entrepreneur and co-founder of music service Napster, had been advising Zuckerburg and joined the now incorporated company as president. They moved their offices to Palo Alto, California in mid-2004. In 2005, the company dropped ‘the’ from its name, and purchased the domain for facebook.com for $200,000.
By late 2005, Facebook was open to all U.S. universities and high schools, as well as schools in a few other countries including the United Kingdom and Mexico. At the beginning of 2006, work networks with corporate e-mail addresses were allowed to join and by September anyone over the age of 13 could join, and Facebook’s popular news feed function was introduced, allowing users to view their friends’ wall posts in one place.
Microsoft bought a 1.6 percent stake in Facebook for $240 million in 2007 and forged an advertising partnership. Facebook began introducing new features such as Facebook chat and the ‘like’ button, allowing friends to promote each others posts. Soon Facebook passed up Myspace as the top social network in the U.S. With the launch of Facebook mobile, integration of other social media and sharing sites, hashtags, trending topics, Facebook’s growth has not stopped since its launch from a Harvard dorm room in 2004.
Facebook now has a staggering 1.2 billion users, and only wishes to fulfill their vision of connecting the world.