Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder of the social network Facebook, which adds more than 900 million registered users in the world, is one of the world’s Internet giants before reaching the age of 30, and is already among the legends of Silicon Valley.
“Fortune smiles at the audacious,” Virgil’s famous maxim quoted by Zuckerberg on his personal page, seems to faithfully reflect a man who launched his company when he was only 19 years old and who never considered leaving the reins.
Zuckerberg is already one of the richest men in the world and his company is worth about 100 billion dollars according to estimates based on the value of income of its shares in the stock market. Since 2010 he has been chosen as man of the year by the weekly Time and the most influential man of the “new establishment” by Vanity Fair.
Of the more than 900 million active registered users, about 169 million in the United States alone (the largest number) and this week will go public with about $ 5 billion in securities.
Paradoxically for someone whose biography has already given rise to a film (The Social Network) that even won Oscars in 2011, and for the creator of a site that staggers the everyday, Mark Zuckerberg lives his life discreetly, giving few Details on his personal page, which follow 13 million people.
Born on May 14, 1984, raised in Dobbs Ferry, outside New York, by a dentist father and a psychiatrist mother, he began at age 11 in computer programming.
He was still in high school when Microsoft and AOL proposed to buy one of his creations, a program that allowed him to guess the musical desires of his listeners, in the style of the ‘Genius’ system launched by Apple for his online store iTunes.
However, he rejected the proposal and entered Harvard, the most prestigious university in the United States, at the age of 18. In his second year he released TheFacebook, “a production Mark Zuckerberg”, at that time essentially a directory of online students.
“Making the world more connected” would be the definition of the website that Zuckerberg would use for the first time on his personal page, dated February 4, 2004.
The founding period of Facebook was the subject of several lawsuits, which led Zuckerberg to pay $ 65 million to three former college mates, Cameron and Tyler Winkle Voss and Divya Narendra and to recognize the role of “confounding” his former partner, Eduardo Saverin, of Brazilian origin.
The four men have claimed against him, some accusing him of having stolen the idea of the website, others of having excluded them unjustly. Zuckerberg admitted in the last years to have committed “errors” of youth.
Unlike Google’s creators, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who offered the company’s CEO position to Eric Schmidt, Zuckerberg never let go of the reins, even though he was surrounded by high-profile positions, particularly the director of Sheryl Sandberg, hired when she was working at Google in 2008.
“It had imperialist tendencies,” said Sean Parker, founder of Napster and one of his first mentors in 2004, in the book “The Facebook Revolution” written by David Kirkpatrick.
“His stance on Facebook is similar to that of Bill Gates, who lasted a long time” in the position of CEO of Microsoft, noted Josh Bernoff, an analyst at Forrester Research. “It is clear that the decisions (come from him), and that the role of Sheryl Sandberg is to implement the strategies he conceives,” he added.
The young man with curly hair, a reddish tint, for a long time uncomfortable before the media and adept at shirts, ended up feeling better before the cameras.
He interviewed President Barack Obama in April, who joked with him for wearing an extraordinary tie when he came to visit the Facebook headquarters.
Zuckerberg lives with Priscilla Chan, a medical student she met in 2003. Especially because she wanted to talk to her political family, she started learning Mandarin in 2010.
Known for his taste for Greco-Roman antiquity, he does not hesitate to declare some eccentricities. Last year he decided to become almost vegetarian and promised not to eat meat if he did not kill the animal he came from.