Around half the Internet users on Earth are signed onto Facebook. That meant more than 900 million by the beginning of April this year. Social networking, for many, has become a necessity.
Harvard University dropout Mark Zuckerberg built this on the idea that what interests people most is sharing what they do or think with others, or checking them out.
He was 19 and it was early 2004. He hacked into the prestigious university’s directory of student photos. Then he wrote computer code for a new website he started out calling TheFacebook.
By June, headquarters was Palo Alto, California. What had been for university users was swiftly opened up to anyone 13 or older with an email address.
By late 2007, the company was valued at around $15 billion. Today the online inventor is 28, and that figure seems like a drop in the bucket.
Katherine Phillips at Columbia Business School said: “Mark Zuckerberg is a very young CEO, so that’s very different from what we’re used to seeing. He doesn’t fit the mold, he doesn’t fit our expectations and our schema about what a leader should look like.”
Advertising of course takes well to a medium that so many people use, but only around one out of every 2,000 adverts get clicked on. It has been blamed for lowering workplace productivity, exposing children to risk in spite of its minimum signup age, or leaving user accounts open to abuse.
Media analyst Matt Donovan, Executive Vice President of the company McCann in New York, said Facebook’s potential is still being figured out: “It’s still a very effective but very early medium. Social is only four to six years old, depending on what you use as your birthdate, and big companies are still trying to understand: ‘How do we connect into a community of people and build engagement with that group of people and at the same time achieve our advertising aims.’”
Thanks to Zuckerberg’s entrepreneurship with a handful of friends early on, around 1,000 Facebook employees are billionaires now.