Mark Zuckerberg’s Biography
Mark Zuckerberg is the founder, CEO, and Board Chairman of Facebook Inc. The young billionaire made his first billion from a technology startup that he started from within a campus hostel.
Soon after the successful IPO launch of the messaging app, the CEO faced some legal battles, with most suing him for infringement of intellectual property rights.
But this has done little to nothing to decelerate the appreciation of the company’s stock prices.
Zuckerberg has also faced intense criticism even in the face of Facebook’s appreciating value as the single point of failure. It is the bittersweet turn of events that this biography seeks to detail. We shall start with a brief of his bio, his net worth, business success as well as his failures.
We shall also give a summary of his real estate holdings, family as well as his quotes and videos. Let’s start with his bio;
Mark Zuckerberg’s Biofacts
Full Name: Mark Elliot Zuckerberg
Birth Date: May 14, 1984
Birth Place: White Plains, New York, US
Nick Name: “Zuck” or “Mark”
Siblings: Has three sisters; Randi, Donna and Arielle
Children: Maxima Chan Zuckerberg (December 1, 2015) and August Chan Zuckerberg (August 28, 2017)
Partner / Spouse: Priscillah Chan (Married May 19, 2012 )
Profession: Internet Entrepreneur, Computer Programmer, Businessman, Investor
Salary: $1 per year.
Net Worth: $122 billion, Forbes
Companies Associated With Facebook Inc., WhatsApp, Instagram, Oculus VR, Beluga, and Onavo.
Mark Zuckerberg’s Key Facts Summary
- He was raised in a Jewish reform household.
- He holds the record as the youngest billionaire.
- He dropped out of Harvard two years after joining the prestigious University.
- He declined almost $1million for Synapse from big corporations.
- He declined to sell Facebook to the likes of Yahoo in 2010.
- He owns over 1300 acres of land on Hawaii Island.
- He has pledged to give 99% of his wealth to the less fortunate over time.
Mark Zuckerberg’s Birthplace and Early Life
Zuckerberg was born Mark Elliot Zuckerberg on May 14, 1984, to a dentist father and psychiatrist mother. He was born in White Plains, New York, and brought up in the nearby village of Dobbs Ferry. His family is well-educated and subscribes to the Jewish religion.
Mark enrolled in Ardsley High School in 1998 and left in 2000 for Philip Exeter Academy. But even at this tender age, Zuckerberg showed an interest in computers that saw his father get him a private programming tutor at age 12.
In a statement to reporters, Newman (his programming tutor) notes how hard it was to keep up with the young Zuckerberg who, at around age 12, had enrolled for graduate classes in Mercy College.
Philip Exeter Academy
Zuckerberg went on to join an exclusive academy, Philip Exeter Academy, in New Hampshire, where he captained the Fencing team, excelled in literature before later graduating with a Diploma in Classics.
The brief leadership role as Fencing captain has often been referenced when discrediting those labeling him a nerd.
His passion and fascination for computers grew even further while in Philip Exeter Academy and even took the first step to technopreneurship after he developed Synapse.
According to business insider, Zuckerberg and a friend Adam D’Angelo created the music software while in high school. The mp3 player can keep track of all songs one often plays, syncs them into a playlist, and avail it as a playlist for listening to on the go.
The success of the music software caught the attention of corporations and tech investors, who sought to buy the software and enlist their services. Some of these include Microsoft (skip to Microsoft boss’s bio; Bill Gates) and AOL.
The offers the young Zuckerberg got included a $950,000 purchase price plus a 3-year job offer.
The two turned down all the offers, posted the software online for free, claiming they were more interested in graduating from high school and joining campus. This wasn’t the first jab Zuckerberg had taken at programming (skip to Elon Musk’s Success Story).
Long before joining the high school, Zuckerberg had been able to develop a messaging app called Zucknet.
Before the Music Pandora software, Zuckerberg, at age 10 to 11, created a messaging app that made it possible for his family to communicate.
Mark had initially programmed the app to make it possible for his father’s receptionist to alert his father of a walk-in patient without necessarily shouting across the hall. He christened the app Zucknet.
His earlier extensive exposure to programming quickly earned him the title of the go-to programming guy at Harvard. True to this label, in his sophomore year at Harvard, Zuckerberg created an app he called CourseMatch.
Coursematch, as the name suggests, enabled students to peruse the courses enrolled by other students to assist one choose which course to join.
Facemash may probably be the first mistake that saw him rub the authorities in Harvard the wrong way.
Launched over the weekend, Facemash gave users two pictures of campus students to decide who was fairer. The app was an instant hit and drew substantial traffic to the extent of crippling Harvard’s network switches.
Worse still, some students, whose photos had been used without their consent, reported Zuckerberg to the administration prompting disciplinary action against him. In an interview years later, Zuckerberg fondly recalls how friends held a farewell party for him, helped him pack, and had his parents come to pick him up. But this was never to be.
The administration went soft on him and only had the app shut, and Zuckerberg publicly apologize to the aggrieved parties. This may have been the first of many run-ins he could later have with the law.
Mark Zuckerberg’s Business Success
Zuckerberg launched Facebook in 2004, soon after, Facemash backfired on him. In its initial stages, Facebook, initially known as thefacebook.com, had a template into which Harvard students could enter their name, mail, and photo.
Two weeks from the launch date, thefacebook.com saw over half of the Harvard students sign up (here is Liz Claiborne’s Bio, she got similar results in fashion).
In time Facebook grew in traffic and scope of connection and was expanded to other campuses at the request of those campuses. All this time, Facebook was being run from a room from within Harvard.
So famous was the app that by the end of 2004, over 100 million users had signed up.
By this time, Facebook had included more features (including the Social graph features whose weakness was exploited for selfish gains by Cambridge Analytica), including an option to upload a photo and connect with friends, among others.
To better the online experience, Zuckerberg, with the help of roommates Chris Hughes, Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, and Dustin Moskovitz, added more features into the template and changed the name to Facebook, and took it online.
Zuckerberg then had the company registered, dropped out of Harvard, and moved to Palo Alto, California.
Access Axel Financing
Around this time, 2005, his biggest break came through via exclusive financing from an Ivy League financier amounting to $12.7 million.
After setting up a base in Palo Alto, Facebook expanded its reach to more exclusive campuses, colleges, and international schools. The popularity of the site and traffic volume caught the attention of most companies that sought permission to advertise with Facebook.
The marketing efforts bore fruits, and by December 2005, the site had 5.5 million people and had the likes of Yahoo and MTV Networks knocking on Zuckerberg’s office door with purchase offers. Both the advertising and purchase offers were turned down.
Zuckerberg Makes First Billion
The popularity of the site exponentially grew in sign-ups, traffic, and value, and by 2007, Zuckerberg raked in his billion and merited listing as the world’s youngest self-made billionaire.
Fast forward to today, and Facebook has over 2.85 billion active users, controls over 71%, together with Google, of monies spent advertising online, and has a net value of approximately $280 billion according to gobankingrates.
But the journey wasn’t without its fair share of legal hurdles.
In 2006, Zuckerberg was sued by former campus mate Narendra and the Winklevosses who claimed Zuckerberg had cheated them out of their noble idea, Harvard connection. In the ensuing legal battle, Zuckerberg was found culpable of intellectual dishonesty and in breach of trust, having shared user data with friends.
The matter runs well into 2012 and had Zuckerberg slapped with a $65 million (this almost a quarter of Dan Bilzerian’s net worth) fine in damages. His other successful venture is Solar sail, a futuristic spacecraft development project.
Facebook acquired Instagram on April 9, 2012, at $1 billion. At the time of purchase, Instagram was not generating any revenue and had 90 million users. Less than a decade later, in September 2018, Facebook had grown users to over 1 billion.
Of significance, too, was the decision by Facebook to monetize the video and photo sharing platform away from its parent company. And this may be the one other thing that Zuckerberg got right. Similar to the increase in users, so where the increase in projected revenues place it at over $6.8 billion for 2020, up from $3.3 billion in 2019.
WhatsApp is a low-cost social network that was valued at $1.5 billion on February 19, 2014. At the time of the purchase, it had 400 million active users and allowed users to call, share videos, photos, and documents.
Though Facebook didn’t explicitly state how it would monetize the app at the time of purchase, it has managed to grow its value to an estimated $5 billion as of 2020.
The acquisition of Oculus VR and WhatsApp were weeks apart. Oculus VR was founded in 2012 and sold to Facebook in 2014. The company has established itself as one of the go-to virtual reality markets, courtesy of its popular headset product. Facebook paid $2billion for the virtual reality company.
The company did not establish itself as a subsidiary but even went a step further to acquire Surreal Vision in 2015.
The acquisition of Beluga was quietly wrapped away from the scrutiny of most investors. The move was seen to stem potential rivals and retain exclusivity as the sole social network available for users.
The acquisition was made amid Beluga’s startup fundraiser. The acquisition cost remains undisclosed to date.
Unlike the usual social network acquisitions, Onavo is a web analytics app that works to determine app usage by customers. The Israel originating app was rumored to be spyware and was later pulled from iOS and Android mobile phones. Some say that it is this very app that had informed the purchase of the above four apps.
Mark Zuckerberg’s Videos
In his commencement speech, Zuckerberg reminisces about the good old days in Harvard. He fondly recalls how he could make a lasting relationship, including with his current wife, Chan.
More important about his speech, though, is the call to his generation to find purpose.
He gives the example of a brief chit-chat President JFK had with a janitor when he visited NASA. He tells them their purpose, especially in the current technological era, needs to outlive them and align with other people’s efforts to make the world a better place than they found it.
In the 25 minutes podcast, Zuckerberg recalls how easy it was, using search engines to get virtually any information one wanted.
But then, based on psychology, a course he pursued alongside computer science, people are social animals. They need to connect at a deeper level which is why he first created Coursematch.
The app allowed students with common interests, courses, and other metrics to text, meet, interact, and strike more lasting relations. This served as the prerequisite to the global social network Facebook.
He also recalls the baby steps Facebook took before finally going public and spreading the world over.
Cambridge Analytica crisis
Cambridge Analytica is a UK-based consulting firm accused of fraudulently obtaining user data from Facebook before the 2016 Presidential elections in the US. The company, developed in 2013, was able to obtain personal information from over 87 million Facebook users without their consent.
The company used select profiling questions on unsuspecting users in the carefully orchestrated scheme, who unknowingly divulged personal information, including their friends’.
The company exploited Facebook’s default social graph settings to obtain personal data from participants and friends of friends in the scheme.
The company allegedly used this information to unfairly sway the presidential election through targeted advertising, an event that is otherwise meant to be free, fair and transparent.
The economic effects of the data breach, which is a contravention of the Data Protection Act of 1998, saw Facebook’s share price slip by 6% and wipe off $30 billion worth of value from the company balance sheet.
This is nothing compared to the measly $22.5 million Google was slapped with when it faced the Federal Trade Commission over the same allegations. To compound the matter, the case is yet to be heard and determined by the courts.
In a public apology issued through the CEO, Facebook could later take responsibility for the oversight stating, “We didn’t take a broad enough view of what our responsibility is, and that was a huge mistake. It was my mistake…,” read the statement in part.
Facebook is a publicly traded company. And like any other publicly-traded company, it should have a CEO, an independent Chairman of the Board, and Founding Investors. But not with Facebook. Zuckerberg is the 3 in 1 as he is the CEO, Founder, and Board chairman.
This makes the giant company precariously hinged on the decision of a single individual whose single mistake can cost shareholders billions of dollars. The billionaire has so tightly clinched to the company leadership role, often wielding his majority voting shares to reign in dissenting opinions and voices.
Meaning he is simply untouchable, and his decisions are final.
The Thorny Issue of Data Privacy
Soon after the Facebook – Cambridge Analytica scandal, numerous users, including US residents, raised concerns about the safety of the data they voluntarily shared with Facebook.
In a senate hearing with Facebook CEO Zuckerberg, the senate tried to understand the extent to which the social site could protect user data against unscrupulous individuals and firms.
In response, the CEO noted that they were trying to include more safety nets to ensure that never happens. And should such an unfortunate incident happen, the firm or individual could be banned from using Facebook?
But here is the catch, should Facebook succeed in stemming such firms and individuals, it could now hold all the exclusive rights to personal data, which it may stealthily sell to the highest bidders.
So delicate is the issue that firms have been sued by individuals or even groups of people for damages that run into millions. A case in point is Google’s lawsuit of 2012.
Mark Zuckerberg’s Family and Partner
Mark has three sisters Randi, Donna, and Arielle. Their parents, Edward Zuckerberg (dentist) and Karen Zuckerberg (psychiatrist) are Jewish and serve as medical practitioners.
The four were brought up in Dobbs Ferry, New York before Mark left for Harvard for a Computer Science degree.
While in the second year at Harvard, Mark met Priscilla Chan, a medical student he dated, and later moved in within September 2010 before finally tying the knot on May 19, 2012.
The couple has two kids, Maxima Chan Zuckerberg (December 1, 2015) and August Chan Zuckerberg (August 28, 2017).
Mark Zuckerberg’s Net worth and career earnings
The chief executive officer, Founder, and president of Facebook Inc. receives $1 (yes, you read right, 1 dollar) per year.
This has been his base salary from as far back as 2013. However, the annual compensations are much more than what most ordinary people may make in a lifetime.
According to financial filing publications, Zuckerberg’s compensations and bonuses have been on an upward trajectory. In 2017, his total compensation amounted to $9.1 million. This increased by 50% in 2018 to a record $20 million. This amount rose by 17% in 2019 to $23.42 million and then by 8% in 2020, grossing him over $25.29 million.
According to Forbes, Zuckerberg has a net worth of $120.4 billion and is ranked 5th on the Forbes list of 2021 billionaires. This places him behind Microsoft CEO Bill Gates (4th), Bernard Arnault and Family (3rd), Elon Musk (2nd), and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, the wealthiest person on earth.
Mark Zuckerberg’s Real Estate Holdings
Mansions Adjacent to Lake Tahoe
Mark purchased these two properties through a limited liability company in 2019. According to Wall Street, the mansions sit on a 10-acre piece of prime land with 600 feet of uninterrupted lakefront frontage, have a total of 15 bedrooms, and sent him back approximately $60 million.
The site of the mansions is to the West of Lake Tahoe, a 71-mile long water hole, which is a popular tourist destination for most North Californians. The smaller mansion was built in the early 1930s and is christened Carousel Estate.
The estate cost the billionaire $22 million and sits on 3.5 acres of land. It has a Tudor-style main house, a yacht accommodating pier, two buoys, separate guest quarters, and a caretaker’s quarters.
The larger mansion was sold by an elderly philanthropist and is christened Brushwood Estate. The 1960s estate has threes buoys, a Lakeview Jacuzzi, 4000 square feet of living space, plus an additional 7,000 square feet for the main house. The luxurious mansion is dotted with massive pines and redwood trees within the compound.
Palo Alto Residence in Silicon Valley
Zuckerberg purchased this home in 2011 at $7million. Later on, he spent $43 million buying the surrounding four homes. The 5-bedroomed home occupies 5000 square feet, has 5-bathrooms, and is a neighbor to Silicon Valley’s most affluent. The home is in the Crescent Park that borders Palo Alto.
Townhouse in San Francisco
The 5,500 square feet townhouse was built in 1928 and cost Zuckerberg $10million. He went ahead to renovate the home at an approximate cost of $1.6million. The renovations included remodeling the bathrooms and kitchen, the addition of a media house, wine cellar, and a greenhouse.
Sources intimate to the transaction indicated that the purchase cost was almost 8X what the parcel was valued at in 1997.
Home in Kauai in Hawaii Island
The home consists of two properties that the billionaire purchased back in 2014 at an approximate cost of $100 million. The two properties that are located to the Kauai’s North Shore, according to Forbes, are in an expansive prime land whose natural beauty Zuckerberg and his Wife intends to preserve.
The vast farm was later extended by 350 acres at $49.6 million. The farm extends to include an area above Pila’a Beach. The billionaire is said to have later acquired another 357 acres that were formerly serving as a sugarcane plantation at an estimated cost of $66 million.
In March 2021, Zuckerberg acquired another extra 595.4 acres from Waioli Corporation. The nonprofit organization had initially rejected an offer from the billionaire, claiming they weren’t sure of his intentions.
Cumulatively, the couple owns over 1300 acres of land on Hawaii Island.
However, their ownership has drawn sharp criticism, especially from natives who feel that their rights to land ownership have been infringed. This is spelled out in their land act of the 1800s and passed down through successive generations.
Mark Zuckerberg’s Quotes
“Move fast and break things. Unless you are breaking stuff, you are not moving fast enough.”
“Give everyone the power to share anything with anyone.”
“I wear the same outfit or, at least, a different copy of it almost every day.”
“I think a simple rule of business is, if you do the things that are easier first, then you can actually make a lot of progress.”
“I always tell people that you should only hire people to be on your team if you would work for them.”
“Nothing influences people more than a recommendation from a trusted friend.”
“I look at Google and think they have a strong academic culture. Elegant solutions to complex problems.”
“Instead of building walls, we can help build bridges.”
“It is important for young entrepreneurs to be adequately self-aware to know what they do not know.”
“Helping a billion people connect is amazing, humbling, and by far the thing I am most proud of in my life.”
“Some people dream of success, while others wake up and work hard at it.”
“People think innovation is just having a good idea, but a lot of it is just moving quickly and trying a lot of things.”
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: What Religion is Mark Zuckerberg?
Answer: Mark was raised in a Reform Jewish household whose ancestry can be traced to Germany, Poland and Austria
Question: What Nationality is Mark Zuckerberg?
Answer: Zuckerberg, born Mark Elliot Zuckerberg, is an American computer programmer and internet entrepreneur who founded Facebook Inc. in 2004.
Question: What did Mark Zuckerberg Invent?
Answer: Zuckerberg, with the help of a few friends, created a social media site, Facebook, that allows people to share media, stream events, and communicate with friends. The site was founded in 2004 and was initially run from a room in Harvard University.