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Mark Zuckerberg is the youngest self-made billionaire in history with a reported net worth of $6.9 billion. He is only twenty-six years old and the company he founded, Facebook, is only six. According to Forbes Magazine, Mark is now wealthier than Steve Jobs or Rupert Murdoch, yet he was never in it for the money.
Ranking the most innovative companies in 2009, Fast Company placed Facebook as number one, followed in order by Amazon, Apple and Google, and added: "It was quite a year for Mark Zuckerberg and crew, whose site added a whopping 200 million users." Whether Facebook deserved top billing that year may be debatable, but when Facebook announced topping 500 million users in July 2010--one out of every fourteen people on Earth--its placement at the apex of innovative companies appears justified. Fast Company is not alone in its adulation. In 2010 Vanity Fair magazine named Mark number one on its list of the Top 100 "most influential people of the Information Age" and New Statesman placed him at number sixteen in its survey of the world's fifty most influential figures.
When he launched TheFacebook.com in 2004, Mark wasn't even a speck on the map of America's cultural evolution. The curly-haired sophomore at Harvard University was more comfortable coding computer programs than socializing, with few noticeable features or characteristics that would have set him apart from other students in that highly-charged intellectual environment. Yet in just six years Mark has had a profound, unprecedented and unimaginable impact on American culture, especially its youth, and is now spreading Facebook's tentacles worldwide and into every aspect of our lives. It is a major evolution in social and commercial networking.
It seems as if everyone and every company or organization in the U.S., and abroad, is jumping on the Facebook bandwagon. It's an eclectic and universal mix that includes the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, United Airlines, Princeton University, best-selling author James Patterson, Ernst & Young, Walmart, and the L.A. Lakers. And virtually all high school or college age kids are already on Facebook. Expanding beyond socializing, Facebook has developed several persona and has become an effective marketing and sales tool. For example, David Kirkpatrick, author of "The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company That is Connecting the World," an excellent account of the Facebook story, has two Facebook accounts, one for personal use and one for his book which provides excerpts, a video interview and a link to buy the book. Indonesians, South Africans, Chinese, and citizens of most nations across the Globe are Facebook users--many are self-acknowledged addicts.
But how does one go about writing a biography or even a biographical profile of a twenty-six-year-old titan just a few years past the difficult teenage years? Writing biographies, even biographical profiles, requires extensive, often exhaustive, research of original documents, interviews, video clips, radio broadcasts, books, articles, letters, material at times voluminous, at times scarce and patchy; and with the passage of time a more objective analysis of the subject is made possible.
In Mark's case, he is still evolving as a person, technologist, businessman, executive and philanthropist, but there is yet to be a family, wife, children, any significant community ties or involvement, or enough events in his life to test him and to mark who he is or, more correctly, who he will become. Drawing conclusions about Mark at this stage of his life is tenuous at best, and inaccurate at worst. This is especially true given Mark's proclivity for privacy and his reticence for interviews or opportunities to reveal himself, although with the tutelage of strong and capable people around him, like Sheryl Sandberg, he is starting to emerge from his shell. Still, he is a thinker, not a talker. He has a gift for vision, not for gab, though this may be changing. He is a doer; he gets the job and his vision accomplished; his force is growing as rapidly as the number of users on Facebook. There is one inescapable conclusion: he is brilliant and his star will probably shine even brighter in years to come.
Born in White Plains, New York, on May 14, 1984, Mark was raised in upper-middle-class Dobbs Ferry. His father, Edward, is a dentist "catering to cowards and dental phobics of all ages" and his mother, Karen, was a psychiatrist who devotes her time to manage Edward's dentistry practice. Mark is the their only son--he has three sisters--and was treated like the prince of the family, empowering him with a supreme sense of self confidence.