College dropout finance lessons. Mark Zuckerberg.
At a net worth of 65 billion dollars, Mark Elliot Zuckerberg is not your average 37-year-old. He doesn’t even look rich.
In 2016, Zuckerberg shoved aside Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to be the 4th richest man in the world. Fast-forward to 2022, at a rank of 18, Mr. Facebook or, rather Mr. Meta still easily holds his place among the richest people on the planet.
But how did this gentleman transform from a university dropout to the youngest of a hundred billionaires in the world? By the way, of the 30 richest men on earth, he’s the youngest by more than a decade.
It all started at the Harvard University campus in 2002, Young Zuck has already achieved the reputation of a “programming prodigy”. He studied psychology and computer science. But psychology was not his thing, He was a member of Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity and Kirkland house, But Pi was not his thing.
In his second year, he wrote a program that he named CourseMatch. this program allowed student users to make class selection decisions based on the choices of other students and also to help them with study groups. He later created a computer program called Facemash.
Does that sound familiar?
Well this program allows students to select the best-looking person from a choice of photos.
The foundation for a breakthrough innovation was been laid.
But with every innovation comes an equal and opposite ‘exnovation’.
Exnovation is the word.
THE HARVARD CONUNDRUM
After about 2 days, actually after just one weekend, Harvard college authorities had the Facemash website shut down.
Shut down! They were just having fun!
Well there was more to the program than fun. The site was overwhelming Harvard network switches and preventing students from accessing the internet.
In simple terms, his innovation is turning out to be a disruptive one.
For the record, when an innovation is disruptive, this is a good omen.
Young Zuck knew this so well!
So, in January 2004, tenacious Zuck began writing code for a new website, the following month, he launched “Thefacebook” in partnership with his roommates Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes.
In his sophomore year, Zuck dropped out of Harvard to complete his Facebook project.
In the spring of 2004, Zuck along with some friends moved to Palo Alto California, there they leased a small house that served as an office for the fledgling Facebook.
Yeah, you heard it right, Facebook has been born.
THE BIRTH OF FACEBOOK
The lures of major corporations to buy the promising project-turned-company was not enough to distract the young men, not even a billion dollar offer from Yahoo Inc. could do it. they were determined to plough the tough route to greatness.
In a later interview, Zuckerberg would reportedly express his desire his passion not for creating wealth, but for creating an open information flow for people
This determination plus advice from former Netscape CFO Peter Currie about financing strategies was the sling board the company needed to “boom!!!”.
In mid-2007 Zuckerberg reported that the company had reached the 500-milion-user mark. What a massive growth for an internet website at the time, and maybe, till date.
CAREER ALTER EGO
But life’s journey is not Hollywood’s “and they live happily ever after”. This Zuckerberg will soon realize.
With vision and fame comes wealth.
With wealth comes recognition…
Recognition and trouble.
Soon the controversies begin to flood in.
Controversies and trouble.
CONTROVERSES AND TROUBLE
First was Facebook’s co-founder Eduardo Saverin. Whose relationship with the ‘start-up’ was the love affair of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.
But Saverin wanted more, his own site, a job website. So, he posted ads for his site, and more ads… and more ads.
The love affair was waning!
Saverin started becoming reluctant to sign off things pertaining to the company’s funding or the reformation of Facebook under Delaware’s law for tax purpose… or so Zuckerberg thought.
Zuck shot back! The plan was to sign over all intellectual property of the company to a new company. Take a lawsuit. Settle it. And… whooom! Saverin is out of the game!
…And so he did.
In some grand CIA-styled Hollywood blockbuster movie, Saverin’s 30 percent share of Facebook was sent down the great abyss… the great dark abyss… Down to less than 10 percent.
In April of 2005 Saverin was fired by Zuckerberg
The old friend fought back. a lawsuit was filed. A move that inspired the infamous Hollywood blockbuster movie “The Social Network”
After the Saverin saga came Pakistan’s criminal investigation. In June 2010, Pakistan’s Deputy Attorney General Muhammad Azhar Sidiqque launched a criminal investigation into Zuckerberg’s allege complacence in a ‘Draw Muhammad’ contest hosted on Facebook.
Then came Paul Ceglia who filed a lawsuit claiming 84 percent ownership of Facebook, over a $1000-dollar investment in the company’s start-up back in 2003.
The Hawaiian land ownership saga followed in 2017.
Then the Facebook – Cambridge Analytica Data breach, which resulted in Zuckerberg’s summon by the US congress.
Like a planned convergence of an Indian landslide, a European tornado and an American-styled hurricane. The challenges came. Hitting from all sides.
But this is not the end of the man, not the end of his vision, not the end of the technological revolution.
A star was born in a dorm in Harvard university 19 years ago and it has shone through. Even in the abyss, it will shine through.
And when you see the man on grey t-shirt.
Flouting the blue logo shared by a billion Facebook fans, remember the dropout from Harvard
Remember he’s worth 76 billion US dollars.
COLLEGE DROPOUT FINANCE LESSONS
Young entrepreneurs, like Zuckerberg, are inspirations to the 21st century youth. And proof that financial stability is a creation and not a gift.
Or maybe its a gift that was created, and given to the creator… and every aspiring creator.
An irony of life!
Men like Zuck are an inspiration.
Did he inspire you?
Who else has?
Drop your say in the comment. And maybe we can write about him for still more others to be inspired.