Embroiled by controversies, including the leaking of data, and lawsuits about intellectual properties, dating back to the founding of the Tech Giant, Facebook is by far one of the greatest stories of success ever written on the face of the earth. It still baffles scholars and entrepreneurs in the world over just how revolutionary this company and their idea has become. Started by a Harvard student in his dorm room around 16 years ago, Facebook has become an integral part of modern society making its Founder one of the most wealthy people in the world. So, what is the story behind Facebook, and what has made it such a phenomenon in Silicon Valley and the world over?
With over 2.2 Billion users in 2020, Facebook has more than 2 in every 5 internet users in the world accessing the platform. This makes it one of the most actively used platforms in the world with millions visiting it on a daily basis. But this was not the first project of Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg. A few months back, he founded Facemash. This was a website that let its users create rankings based on the attractiveness of other Harvard students. As he didn’t get actual permission to use student photos, many of them were not happy with his work. And he ended up facing possible expulsion. But this was just the beginning of Mark’s career in shaping the world.
In February 2004, Mark launched Thefacebook. This was the first launch of the now tech giant. At Thefacebook, one only needed a Harvard.edu email to join and they could then create a profile where you could upload a photo, share your interests, and connect with other people. To show just how popular the idea was, within 5 months, more than 50% of the students had signed up. But this instantly initiated Mark’s worries as he was being sued. Fellow students Cameron Winklevoss, Tyler Winklevoss, and Divya Narendra claimed that Mark had stolen the idea from them. This issue was eventually settled 4 years later in 2008.
Facebook became an instant hit and the numbers were there to prove it. By just the end of 2004, thousands of students across universities in the US and Canada were really signing up. This made it very popular and with it came several investors pouring in the money in leaps and bounds. First, Paypal Co-founder Peter Thiel poured a whopping $500,000 within a few months of Thefacebook’s kickstarting its operations. This was quite the investment back then but it in no way compared to the $12.7m from Accel and $1m from the personal fortune of venture capitalist Jim Breyer that was given to the company in May of 2005. Thefacebook was really getting attention now.
In August 2005, ‘The’ was dropped and Facebook, as we know it, became Facebook. Soon after, Mark officially quit his studies to focus on building his company. He was now ready to fully be the CEO and not just a programmer. With Mark, called Zuck by his friends, at the helm, Facebook experienced unprecedented and an almost ‘too good to believe’ growth.
In September 2006, Facebook finally became open to everyone above 13 years old with a valid email address. This globalization of facebook gave it some very serious growth boost:
December 2006: 12m
April 2007: 20m
July 2007: 30m
October 2007: 50m
August, 2008: 100m
January, 2009: 150m
February 2009: 175m
April, 2009: 200m
July, 2009: 250m
September, 2009: 300m
Within just 5 years, the platform was hosting over 300 million users and now everyone wanted a piece of the cake. But this was just the beginning of the success, creativity, and ingenuity of a tech mogul.