In January 2011, rumors emerged that Mark Zuckerberg, the world’s youngest billionaire, was planning to close his masterpiece, Facebook. Thought to be “sick” of the site that had “ruined his life”, the 26 year-old was said to be shutting down the profiles of half a billion people the world over on March 15, sparking uproar among users whose lives had been transformed by the ability to connect with their friends like never before.
Of course, the site never did close, and Zuckerberg, true to form, has continued to grow the site and eye new ideas for its development since its very conception in his Harvard dormitory almost eight years ago. The college drop-out, whose personal wealth is estimated to be around $17.5bn on the back of his entrepreneurial break-through, has also voiced his desire to keep the company within the facebook family.
“It’s not because of the amount of money,” he told students at his former prep school, Philips Exeter Academy, recently, talking about why he turned down offers from major companies to buy out the social networking site. “For me and my colleagues, the most important thing is that we create an open information flow for people. Having media corporations owned by conglomerates is just not an attractive idea to me.” And, even as Facebook now prepares to go public, Zuckerberg is set to retain a majority share, not to mention 50 percent of the voting rights.
Looking back at his life, in many ways, one might say Zuckerberg was a very ordinary child. Born in Dobbs Ferry, New York, on May 14 1984, he was brought up by his father Edward, a dentist who ran a practice next to their home, and his mother, Karen, a psychologist before she had children.
There were of course many other attributes, which proved the Facebook co-founder to be a little different, most notably his obsession and proficiency with computers. At the age of just 12, he invented a messaging programme named ‘Zuchnet’ for use in his father’s dentist surgery, and throughout his early years, he was a hit among his friends for constructing video games based on their artistic drawings. To help him achieve his goals, Mark’s parents hired private computer tutor David Newman to come and work with Mark at home. According to Newman, Zuckerberg’s computer competency certainly made it tough to keep up with him.
By the time Zuckerberg went to high school, he had built a music player called the Synapse Media Player under the company name Intelligent Media Group, which relied on artificial intelligence to learn the user's listening habits. According to reports, IT giants Microsoft and AOL tried to buy Synapse and recruit Zuckerberg at this stage, but he instead chose to enrol at Harvard University. Throughout school, Zuckerberg was good at many things, including literature, maths and fencing, where he was captain of the team, but in the end, it was computers and programming that sparked his interest most.
It wasn’t until Zuckerberg left home and went to college, however, that he stumbled across the idea for Facebook. Despite the controversy surrounding whose idea it actually was, (friends the Winklevoss twins accusing him of stealing their idea) there was never any doubt that it was Zuckerberg himself who created the site.
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