Today, the 4th of February 2020, marks the official birthday of Facebook. Mark Eliot Zuckerberg, a computer programmer and software developer, while studying at Harvard University, created Facebook with the help of Eduardo Severin, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes, who were his roommates and computer science students.
On October 28, 2003, Mark Zuckerberg, a computer science student, created a website in his hostel room and named it www.facemash.com. He hacked the Harvard students database to get pictures and ID’s of students for this site. He then created the “Hot” or “Not” voting game for the students using Facemash. The University as at then, didn’t have an official resource containing all the names and information of the students. So he decided to call it ‘Freshman Facebook’. This Freshman Facebook almost got him kicked out of Harvard until he was later forced by the University authorities to shut down the site in the face of college students.
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After shutting down Facemash, he held on to his vision till he was able to buy the www.desktops.com domain on January 11, 2004. When he launched Facebook on February 4, 2004, within the next 24 hours, 1200 students registered on it. Initially it was limited to Harvard College, but within two months, it expanded to other colleges in Boston, Ivy League and Stanford University.
In the month of June 2004, around 150,000 users started using Facebook. In December 2004, this number stood at one million. However, only 13-year-old teenagers could use Facebook then. In the meantime, there was no image uploading, no wall, no news feed, no event, no page, etc, on Facebook. In August 2005, Zuckerberg named the Facebook briefly for the name of Sutrimadhu “Facebook” and bought a domain under that name at a cost of two million US dollars. He no longer had to look back and forth.
Mark Zuckerberg tells the story of when he went to Steve Jobs for advice:
- “Early on in our history when things weren’t really going well. We had hit a tough patch and a lot of people wanted to buy Facebook. I went and I met with Steve Jobs, and he said that to reconnect with what I believed was the mission of the company, I should go visit this temple in India that he had gone to early in the evolution of Apple, when he was thinking about what he wanted his vision of the future to be. So I went and I travelled for almost a month.”
Mark travelled to Kainchi Dham Ashram, in Nanital, Uttarakhand. The same place Steve Jobs had visited, and where he got clarity on his life purpose. For a month, Mark meditated in the temple and travelled through India.
Mark said: “Seeing how people connected, and having the opportunity to feel how much better the world could be if everyone had a strong ability to connect, reinforced for me the importance of what we were doing and that is something I’ve always remembered over the last 10 years as we’ve built Facebook.”
Mark returned from the trip, rejected all the offers for the company and committed to push on with his vision to “connect the world”.
That one piece of advice from Steve Jobs, that one decision to take the action to leave his company and country for a month to follow it, has proven to be worth over $35 Billion as Facebook has grown to connect over three billion people today. Over the years, he’s been able to build Facebook and Instagram into digital equivalents of the town square, where you can interact with lots of people at once. He has built Messenger and WhatsApp into platforms for all kinds of private interactions. He has redesigned Facebook to make communities as central as friends, added new ways to buy things securely on Instagram, augmented virtual reality, and also created more personal and intimate experiences.
If you have a vision, don’t abandon it. Only you can determine your destination. Therefore, drive your vision tenaciously.