The year 2014 has already been a pretty decent year for Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook. The company celebrated its 10th anniversary back in February, is hosting its first summit since 2011, and it has reached 1.28 billion users as of April 2014. Yet, for some reasons, there are people who believe that the social network is on the decline.
While Facebook may be losing the younger generation, it’s still expected to increase user growth in APAC by 28-32% by 2015. It also remains the most popular social network when it comes to user activity. For example, 57 percent of millennials coordinate plans via Facebook at least once a week. A whooping 62 percent of this same demographic post what they are doing, who they are with, and where they are. In addition, 30 percent of people in the U.S. get their news from Facebook. This only shows that Facebook isn’t going anywhere and there remains a lot of potential for the network.
Of course, there’s one person to thank for all of this—Mark Zuckerberg.
He dropped out of Harvard, created an insanely popular social media service, was the subject of a major Hollywood motion picture, and has made more money than Steve Jobs did when he was the same age. And, don’t expect that to change anytime soon. Mark Zuckerberg is definitely out to change the world.
Since Mark Zuckerberg is celebrating a landmark birthday on May 14, 2014 when he turns 30, we’ve decided to highlight five things that you don’t know about Facebook’s founder along with some important lessons for you to use on your journey.
5. Facebook Was Almost Acquired
According to David Kirkpatrick’s The Facebook Effect, there were numerous companies who attempted to acquire Facebook from Zuckerberg, even as early as four months after its inception. Here’s a look back at those failed acquisitions:
- Facebook, then known as TheFacebook.com, went live in February 2004. Just four months later the then 20-year-old Mark Zuckerberg received a $10 million offer from an unnamed financier from New York. Another early bidder was pioneering social networking site Friendster, however there aren’t many other details beyond that.
- By the summer of 2004, Zuckerberg had relocated to Palo Alto. Kirkpatrick notes that eventually “a couple of Google executives came over to see if there might be a way to work with or even buy TheFacebook.” That deal obviously didn’t happen, but there was an offer from Viacom for $75 million in March 2005. It was around the same time that MySpace also was checking in on the availability of Facebook.
- Later on in 2005, Viacom came back into the picture to have some sort of merger with MTV and Facebook. NBC also showed interest, as well as News Corp, in January 2006. However, Zuckerberg is said to have stated “We built this to last, and these guys [at MySpace] don’t have a clue.”
- Viacom made one last ditch effort in 2006 by offering $1.5 billion for Facebook, with $800 million up front. This was followed by another $1 billion offer from Yahoo! in the summer of 2006.
The Lesson: Today, Zuckerberg has an estimated net worth of $26.3 billion and Facebook probably somewhere in the neighborhood of $100 billion. In addition to becoming one of the wealthiest people on the planet, Zuckerberg gained more followers on Google Plus than Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin in July 2011. Ouch!
Sometimes, when you have a dream and a vision for that dream, it’s best to keep on going – even if you lose out on millions of dollars in the beginning. As the cliche goes, all good things come to those who wait.
4. From ZuckNet to Facebook
Growing up in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y, Mark’s father had a dental clinic located on the first-floor of the family home. To make life easier for his father, Mark created ZuckNet for the family to communicate with in 1996. According to his sister Randi, “Anyone could log into any computer around the house and send a message.” Yep, Mark Zuckerberg has been social networking since the 90s.
But, that wasn’t the only Zuckerberg creation. He also invented an automatic playlist creator called Synapse while in still in high school. The program even caught the attention of companies like Microsoft and AOL, but he refused the seven-figure offers and gave it away for free.
By the time Zuckerberg was attending Harvard in 2003, he came up with Course Match and the controversial, yet popular, network Facemash. The network was shut down by the university, but several months later he began writing the basic software for TheFacebook.
Despite Facebook becoming a juggernaut, there have been some hiccups along the way, remember that whole HTML5 fiasco in 2012?
That still has prevented Zuckerberg from pushing the limits of what Facebook can and can’t do. And, besides being filthy rich, Zuckerberg has over 50 patents. Some could work, others may fail. But, he’s not giving up.
The Lesson: Pretty obvious. Don’t ever give up. Instead, learn from your mistakes and make the adjustments so you won’t repeat them in the future.
3. Fear of Public Speaking
It’s been claimed that Mark Zuckerberg has a fear of public speaking, or at the very least wasn’t all that great at it. For example, do any of you remember the Wall Street Journal’s D8 conference back in June 2010? Zuckerberg floundered during the interview. We’re not knocking the guy, some people just have that charisma where they can become a rock star when speaking in front of a crowd. The problem, however, was that the founder of the most well-known social media network couldn’t handle sitting in front of a group of people.
Fast forward to July 2011, and many have noticed, Zuckerberg was much better during the press conference that announced a collaboration with Skype. And, he improved more while on the Charlie Rose in November of the same year.
We don’t know what Mark Zuckerberg does behind closed doors, but we’re guessing that he was made aware of his D8 interview and worked on getting over his public speaking issues. But there was a little more to it. He also surrounded himself with a strong support system. When he appeared on Charlie Rose he was joined by COO Sheryl Sandberg.
Sandberg is one of the most influential people around, is author of Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead and is one of the best speakers that TED has ever had. We’re pretty sure she gave Zuck some pointers and helped pick-up the slack when needed.
The Lesson: No matter how great of an idea or business plan you have in place, there’s just some areas that aren’t your strong point. And there’s nothing wrong with it, either. Instead of letting that area go, why not surround yourself with people who can help you? This will make your business complete.
2. Unleash the Beast
You’ve probably heard that Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla own a Puli, aka a Hungarian sheepdog, named Beast. But did you know that Beast has his own Facebook page with 1.8 million likes? While that doesn’t come close to the over 5 million likes that Grumpy Cat has acquired, that’s still very impressive for man’s best friend. In fact, that’s probably more than what most of us will ever accumulate.
The Lesson: Animals are taking over social media. Which, in reality, makes sense. They’re cute, cuddly, and do goofy things that make us chuckle or shake our heads. Plus, our animal friends are a big part of our daily lives. This only shows that people love checking out animals on social media outlets, and Mark Zuckerberg knows that. Which is why he proudly shares the adventures of Beast with the rest of the world by giving people what they want.
But, it doesn’t have to be an animal. It could be anything that you know your audience will enjoy and engage with. That’s the whole idea behind social media after all.
1. Why Does Facebook Have The Blues?
Did you ever stop and wonder why Facebook is blue? That’s because Mark Zuckerberg is red-green colorblind. He told The New Yorker in 2010, “Blue is the richest color for me. I can see all of blue.” Today, we can’t imagine Facebook being any other color. It’s a trademark.
The Lesson: Is there a lesson here? We think so. And that’s showcasing a little bit of humanity. While many people may not be aware that Zuckerberg is colorblind, he’s never hidden the fact. He even used it to his advantage. It shows that behind Facebook and all of the myths associated with him is a man who has flaws, just like the rest of us. That’s a great way to connect with people as well. And, let’s not also forget, that what some could perceive as a weakness could be an asset.
What have you learned from either Facebook or Mark Zuckerberg from the last ten years?
Featured Image: Brian Solis/Flickr