Zuckerberg at South by Southwest in 2008. Born Mark Elliot Zuckerberg
May 14, 1984 (1984-05-14) (age 26)
White Plains, New York Residence Palo Alto, California Nationality American Alma mater
Harvard College (dropped out in 2004) Occupation CEO/President of Facebook
(24% shareholder in 2010) Known for Co-founding Facebook in 2004; becoming world's youngest billionaire as of 2008 Home town Dobbs Ferry, New York Net worth
US$12.5 billion (2011) Relatives Randi, Donna and Arielle (sisters) Awards Time Person of the Year 2010
Mark Elliot Zuckerberg
(born May 14, 1984) is an American computer scientist, software developer and philanthropist best known for creating the social networking site Facebook, of which he is CEO and president. It was co-founded as a private company in 2004 by Zuckerberg and classmates Dustin Moskovitz, Eduardo Saverin, and Chris Hughes while they were students at Harvard University. In 2010, Zuckerberg was named Time
magazine's Person of the Year.
Zuckerberg was born in White Plains, New York to Karen, a psychiatrist, and Edward, a dentist. Mark and three sisters, Randi, Donna, and Arielle, were brought up in Dobbs Ferry, New York. Zuckerberg was raised Jewish, including having his bar mitzvah when he turned 13, although he has since described himself as an atheist.
At Ardsley High School he had excelled in the classics before in his junior year transferring to Phillips Exeter Academy, where Zuckerberg won prizes in science (math, astronomy and physics) and Classical studies (on his college application, Zuckerberg listed as non-English languages he could read and write: French, Hebrew, Latin, and ancient Greek) and was captain of the fencing team. In college, he was known for reciting lines from epic poems such as The Iliad
At a party put on by his fraternity during his sophomore year, Zuckerberg met Priscilla Chan, and they have dated continuously, except for a brief period, since 2003. In September 2010, Zuckerberg invited Chan, now a medical student, to move into his rented Palo Alto house. Zuckerberg studies Mandarin Chinese every day, and the couple visited China in December 2010.As of 2010, Facebook is blocked by that country's Internet firewall.
Zuckerberg (right) with Robert Scoble in 2008.
On Zuckerberg's Facebook page, he listed his personal interests as "openness, making things that help people connect and share what's important to them, revolutions, information flow, minimalism".Zuckerberg sees blue best because of red–green colorblindness; blue is also Facebook's dominant color.
Zuckerberg began using computers and writing software as a child in middle school. His father taught him Atari BASIC Programming in the 1990s, and later hired software developer David Newman to tutor him privately. Newman calls him a "prodigy," adding that it was "tough to stay ahead of him." Zuckerberg also took a graduate course in the subject at Mercy College near his home while he was still in high school. He enjoyed developing computer programs, especially communication tools and games. In one such program, since his father's dental practice was operated from their home, he built a software program he called "ZuckNet," which allowed all the computers between the house and dental office to communicate by pinging each other. It is considered a "primitive" version of AOL's Instant Messenger, which came out the following year.
According to writer Jose Antonio Vargas, "some kids played computer games. Mark created them." Zuckerberg himself recalls this period: "I had a bunch of friends who were artists. They'd come over, draw stuff, and I'd build a game out of it." However, notes Vargas, Zuckerberg was not a typical "geek-klutz," as he later became captain of his prep school fencing team and earned a classics diploma. Napster founder Sean Parker, a close friend, notes that Zuckerberg was "really into Greek odysseys and all that stuff,” recalling how he once quoted lines from the Latin epic poem Aeneid
, by Virgil, during a Facebook product conference.
During Zuckerberg's high school years, under the company name Intelligent Media Group, he built a music player called the Synapse Media Player that used artificial intelligence to learn the user's listening habits, which was posted to Slashdot and received a rating of 3 out of 5 from PC Magazine
. Microsoft and AOL tried to purchase Synapse and recruit Zuckerberg, but he chose instead to enroll at Harvard College in September 2002.
By the time he began classes at Harvard, he had already achieved a "reputation as a programming prodigy," notes Vargas. He studied psychology and computer science and belonged to Alpha Epsilon Pi, a Jewish fraternity. In his sophomore year, he wrote a program he called CourseMatch, which allowed users to make class selection decisions based on the choices of other students and also to help them form study groups. A short time later, he created a different program he initially called Facemash that let students select the best looking person from a choice of photos. According to Zuckerberg's roommate at the time, Arie Hasit, "he built the site for fun." Hasit explains:
We had books called Face Books, which included the names and pictures of everyone who lived in the student dorms. At first, he built a site and placed two pictures, or pictures of two males and two females. Visitors to the site had to choose who was "hotter" and according to the votes there would be a ranking.
The site went up over the weekend, but by Monday morning the college shut it down because its popularity had overwhelmed Harvard's server and prevented students from accessing the web. In addition, many students complained that their photos were being used without permission. Zuckerberg apologized publicly, and the student paper ran articles stating that his site was "completely improper."
At the time of Zuckerberg's "fun" site, however, students had already been requesting that the university develop a web site that would include similar photos and contact details to be part of the college's computer network. According to Hasit, "Mark heard these pleas and decided that if the university won't do something about it, he will, and he would build a site that would be even better than what the university had planned."