AIB Featured Business Leader – Mark Zuckerberg
There are very few people in the online world who haven’t heard the name Mark Zuckerberg. As one of the co-founders of the social network Facebook, he has a personal wealth estimated to be a total of $25.3 billion. Born in 1984, the current chairman and CEO of Facebook has certainly achieved a lot in his 30 years. Growing up in the state of New York, Zuckerberg attended Phillips Exeter Academy where he demonstrated that he was a bright student by winning a series of prizes in subjects such as mathematics, astronomy and physics. During his school years he also developed his passion for computers and writing software. This passion came from his father who taught him basic programming, and then organised for him to be tutored privately. David Newman, Zuckerberg’s tutor, added that it was ‘tough to stay ahead of him’ when it came to the course content. It was clear that from a young age Zuckerberg was gifted, building programs with ease on a regular basis.
Upon completion of high school, Zuckerberg attended Harvard University as a student of psychology and computer science. During his time at college he wrote a number of programs, including ‘CourseMatch’ and ‘Facemash’. In fact, Facemash was so popular upon its release that it had to be shut down as the excessive use prevented other students from accessing the Internet at Harvard. It was in January 2004 that Zuckerberg began writing code for a new site, launching ‘Thefacebook’ shortly after. Unfortunately this wasn’t without difficulties – three seniors at the college accused Zuckerberg of intentionally misleading them and using their ideas to build a competing product. This worsened following the official launch of Facebook as a social media platform, with Mark Zuckerberg settling a lawsuit with the three for a reported $300 million worth of Facebook shares.
For Zuckerberg, Facebook was not originally created to be a revenue generating company – it was created to connect the world. He was quoted to say ‘we are trying to help people connect and communicate more efficiently’, adding that ‘by giving people the power to share we’re making the world more transparent’. There is no doubt that the world has certainly changed since the inception of Facebook and other social networks, social media has changed not only the way we communicate, but the way we do business. Business lessons can certainly be learnt from Zuckerberg’s journey, in particular in the area of risks and persevering during adversities. In 2011 he stated ‘in a world that is changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking any risks’.
Today, Facebook remains the dominating social network despite strong competition. It has also branched out into purchasing other entities such as photo sharing application Instagram, making it a truly business focussed organisation. I think what Mark Zuckerberg has achieved at such a young age is incredible, but I’m wondering what you think of his journey? Please feel free to share any other details on his path to success, or alternatively if you would like to see another business leader profiled, please leave me a comment.
This article was written by Laura Hutton on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB. The following sources have been used to prepare this article: Forbes Magazine, Brainy Quote and Entrepreneur Magazine