|Subject: Really Inspiring - "Harvard Dropout to instant billionaire"
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Date Posted: Thu, Oct 25 2007, 04:20:21pm
Peeps...I find this article inspiring. Hope one Engan will shine like this one day instead of talking and dreaming about POLITICS all the time.
Source: Sydney Morning Herald (www.smh.com.au)
From Harvard dropout to instant billionaire
Four years ago Mark Zuckerberg was just another geeky psychology student at Harvard - now he's a paper billionaire who's often compared to Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.
With his brainchild, Facebook, now valued at $US15 billion ($16.8 billion) after Microsoft purchased a 1.6 per cent stake in the social networking site for $US240 million, the 23-year-old has turned his dorm room hobby into a star of the second web boom.
With a 20 per cent stake in the company, Zuckerberg could theoretically sell out now and walk away with a cool $US3 billion.
The valuation makes News Corp's $US580 million buyout of MySpace in 2005 seem like chicken feed. Indeed, Zuckerberg is no doubt thanking his lucky stars he turned down Yahoo's paltry $US1 billion takeover offer last year.
With 49 million active users worldwide, Facebook is now outgrowing MySpace, which has over 200 million worldwide members. If Facebook's executives and investors are to be believed, the site is growing at between 3 and 3.5 per cent a week and could overtake MySpace in as little as nine months.
In countries like Australia, there is a raft of evidence - both quantitative and anecdotal - suggesting people are deserting their MySpace profiles en masse to join Zuckerberg's hipper hangout.
Traffic monitor Hitwise says MySpace's Australian market share is shrinking while Facebook increased its share threefold in the 10 weeks to October 13.
Zuckerberg owes much of his success to Gates, and it's not only because the Microsoft founder just tipped hundreds of millions into Facebook's coffers. In an interview with Forbes magazine last year, Zuckerberg said Gates, also a Harvard dropout, inspired him to skip school to work on outside projects during a talk Gates gave to one of his computer science classes in 2004.
"He really encouraged all of us to take time off school to work on a project. That's a policy at Harvard - you can take as much time off as you want," Zuckerberg said.
Born in 1984 to a Jewish-American family, Zuckerberg was raised north of New York City in the exclusive suburb Dobbs Ferry, Westchester County.
After enrolling at Harvard in 2002, Zuckerberg took a punt on other web plays before launching Facebook with Harvard buddy Dustin Moskovitz in February 2004.
Campus newspaper The Harvard Crimson reported how, in November 2003, Zuckerberg was almost kicked out of university for creating a Harvard clone of the Hot or Not? website, which allowed fellow students to rate each other's attractiveness.
Zuckerberg was reprimanded by the Harvard University Administrative Board, which accused him of hacking into a university database to obtain the student photos he used on the site, Facemash.com. It is not clear what disciplinary action was eventually taken.
But Zuckerberg's college hijinks must seem like a distant memory for the now battle-hardened chief executive, who commands an army of 300 workers and presides over annual revenues of more than $US100 million. Over the next year he plans to double his troupe of programmers to around 700.
Time will tell if Zuckerberg, whose likes to dress in jeans and Adidas sandals, has what it takes to steer a multi-billion-dollar ship like Facebook, which he initially envisioned as little more than a networking tool for Harvard students.
"I didn't care about being a CEO and I never really have," Zuckerberg told Forbes. "I didn't even care about running a company - I just wanted to build cool things."
The reclusive founder, who according to the Financial Times lived in rented accommodation with a mattress on the floor as recently as May, certainly isn't giving off any hints, having avoided an onslaught of media questioning by skipping today's landmark conference call announcing the Microsoft investment.
Perhaps Zuckerberg now prefers to stay out of the limelight and let his more experienced executive team do the talking, after he fumbled through a presentation in front of around 750 programmers earlier this year. Visibly sweating, he announced Facebook would become an open platform and welcome applications from third-party developers.
And it's not just his inexperience that's making Zuckerberg nervous. Already, former Harvard classmates have come out of the wood work to file legal action against him, claiming Zuckerberg stole their social network idea when he helped them with a project in 2003.
The federal lawsuit was filed by the founders of rival site ConnectU, who accuse Zuckerberg of copyright infringement, fraud and stealing trade secrets. The case is still before the courts and ConnectU has asked Facebook be shut down.
But if it all goes pear-shaped, Zuckerberg can rest easy knowing he's come a long way since 2006, when pundits scolded him for turning down the offer of a lifetime from Yahoo.
As Zuckerberg himself often says, "if Facebook ever falls through, I'll consider going back to Harvard".
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