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Mark Zuckerberg Founder and CEO of Meta formerly Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg Founder and CEO of Meta formerly Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg: Founder and CEO of Meta (formerly Facebook)

Key Takeaways

Early Life and Education

Mark Zuckerberg was born on May 14, 1984, in White Plains, New York. As a child, he showed an affinity for computers, learning the BASIC programming language at a nearby college. At the age of 12, he developed an instant-messaging application that his father used in his office.

Zuckerberg attended Harvard University but dropped out after his sophomore year to focus on developing Facebook. The site grew out of two earlier ventures: FaceMash, a website for ranking the attractiveness of other Harvard students, and HarvardConnection.com, an online social networking platform.

In 2004, Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss and Divya Narendra, the three credited founders of HarvardConnection.com, sued Zuckerberg for allegedly stealing intellectual property from the website. They reached a multi-million dollar settlement in 2008. The Winklevoss twins tried to reopen the lawsuit in 2011, but the court denied their request.

Notable Accomplishments

Facebook IPO and Acquisitions

In mid-2005, Facebook raised $12.7 million in venture capital and expanded access to universities and high schools. One year later, the social network opened to the general public, and Yahoo! offered $1 billion to buy the company—a bid swiftly rejected by Zuckerberg.

In 2012, Facebook went public, raising $16 billion in what became the most successful Internet initial public offering (IPO) in history. That same year, Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion, and Zuckerberg married Priscilla Chan in a surprise wedding the day after the IPO.

Meta has acquired dozens of companies over the years, including Instagram for $1 billion in 2012, WhatsApp for $22 billion in cash and shares in 2014, Oculus VR for $2 billion in 2014, and several other companies ranging from artificial intelligence (AI) to identification platforms.

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Wealth and Philanthropy

Zuckerberg has made headlines for his philanthropy, including his 2010 donation of $100 million to help schools in Newark, N.J. In 2014, the publication Philanthropy ranked Zuckerberg and Chan the most generous American donors of the previous year, after they donated 18 million shares of Facebook stock to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation in Mountain View, Calif.

On Dec. 1, 2015, Zuckerberg and Chan announced the creation of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative "to advance human potential and promote equality for all children in the next generation." In their letter to their daughter Max, Zuckerberg and Chan outlined their focus areas, including personalized learning, curing disease, connecting people, and building strong communities. They also pledged to give 99% of their Facebook shares—currently about $45 billion—during their lives to advance this mission.

Controversy and Cambridge Analytica

Meta has been accused of collecting and selling users’ personal data, posts, and messages. These accusations gained momentum after the 2016 U.S. Presidential elections, with allegations of targeted ads financed by Russia.

In March 2018, it was reported that Cambridge Analytica had paid an outside researcher to collect data on 50 million Facebook users without their permission. Cambridge Analytica’s goal was to use the data for "psychographic modeling" and potentially influence election outcomes.

$25 Billion

The estimated ad revenue of Instagram in 2021.

In April 2018, Facebook disclosed that the information of 87 million users had been improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica. Zuckerberg subsequently testified before House and Senate committees about Facebook’s use of consumer data. He highlighted Facebook’s positive impact during movements like #MeToo and various disasters and outlined actions the company intended to take to prevent future incidents.

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How Does Facebook Make Money?

Facebook generates its revenue primarily through ads. The company sells ad space on its platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. It also offers paid promotion for users’ pages/posts, which is another form of advertising.

What Is Mark Zuckerberg’s Net Worth?

Mark Zuckerberg technically earns a salary of $1 a year at Facebook. However, his wealth is tied up in shares of Meta, making him one of the world’s richest men.

The Bottom Line

Zuckerberg started Facebook from his dorm room, turning it into one of the largest companies in the world. Through acquisitions like Instagram and WhatsApp, he has significant control over how consumers consume content and interact with each other.

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