The Real Story: How Mark Zuckerberg Founded Facebook?

facebook ceo mark zuckerberg
Image: Business Insider
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
Image: Business Insider

Short Bytes: In an interview with Mathias Döpfnerm, Mark Zuckerberg told how he was inspired to create Facebook. He was in Berlin to receive the Axel Springer Award for being an exceptional innovator and entrepreneur. The real story is very much different from the one portrayed in the movie The Social Network.

The very first scenes of The Social Network shows a child-faced version of Mark Zuckerberg involved in a heated conversation with his girlfriend and in the following minutes, he is shown posting harsh comments about her. The movie – an adaptation of the book “The Accidental Billionaire” – portrayed how Facebook came into existence, inspired by a photo matching tool built by some drunk Harvard guy who had his first business card titled “I’m CEO, bitch!”. That photo matching thing was just a prank, says Zuckerberg. The real story is quite different.

At Harvard, Zuckerberg created a tool called Coursematch which was built for gathering user comments on various pictures that belonged to his art history class. “For the final class — called the “Rome of Augustus” — there were all theses pieces of art in the class and they were going to show you a handful and you would need to write an essay about the historical significance of that piece of art.” – Zuckerberg told Mathias Döpfner, CEO at Axel Springer. “I hadn’t paid much attention in the class because I was programming other things so when it came time for the final I was like oh I am screwed, I don’t know any of this stuff.”

The program allowed students to enlist what classes they were taking and form study groups. This helped them make better decisions based on what classes the other students were taking – “So as a study tool I built a little service that showed you at random one of the pieces of art and let you enter what you thought was significant from an art history perspective. So I sent it out to the email list for the class and said hey I have a study tool, and everyone just filled in what is significant about all the pieces of art and it ended up being this great social study tool.” After that, he did the famous FaceMash photo comparison tool which made him popular overnight.

All such tools were the stepping stones of his Facebook journey. It took him only two weeks to come up with the initial version of Facebook, a simple web page that looked as if all the graphic effects were scrapped out. He created Facebook because he wanted to “fill in” the gap between people’s lives. “There was no tool where you could go and learn about other people. I didn’t know how to build that so instead I started building little tools,” he said.

It was called ‘TheFacebook’, and at that time, he never actually gave a thought that he would be the one who would upscale a college level project like this into a billion dollar company envisioned to go far beyond a social networking website. “And I didn’t even think it might be us. It was not like, oh I hope we can turn this into something big. In my mind, there was no way this is going to be us. It was going to be someone else we are just college students. When I look back on the last twelve years, what has been the most surprising it’s that no one else did it. And I ask myself, why no one else did it,” he said.

The interview with Mathias Döpfner happened in Berlin where the Facebook CEO – who stands fourth in the Forbes list of Rich People in Tech – was present with his wife Pricilla Chan to receive the Axel Springer Award. In the Interview, Mark discussed his views on Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence. Recently, we saw a picture of Zuckerberg walking beside people in a hall and no one even turned an eye because they were wearing VR headsets. Well, Facebook has started working in this field, let us see how they manage to keep the world connected when in the future almost everyone will have some sort of display mounted on their head.

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This article contains excerpts from the conversation between Mark Zuckerberg and Mathias Döpfner as a part of the interview given to Die Welt/Welt am Sonntag. Read the full text reported by Business Insider.

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Aditya Tiwari

Aditya Tiwari

Aditya likes to cover topics related to Microsoft, Windows 10, Apple Watch, and interesting gadgets. But when he is not working, you can find him binge-watching random videos on YouTube (after he has wasted an hour on Netflix trying to find a good show). Reach out at [email protected]
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