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An amazing success story called Facebook

Last updated on: February 10, 2012 12:06 IST

An amazing success story called Facebook

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From a Harvard dorm room to becoming one of the world's biggest internet success stories, it has been an incredible journey for Facebook.

What started off a college boy's passion is valued at more than $100 billion today.

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Image: Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg fist bumps a student at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Photographs: Brian Snyder/Reuters.
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With a big ticket IPO in the offing, the company has caught the world's attention.

Founded in 2004 by four enthusiastic youngsters - Mark Zuckerburg, Eduardo Saverin, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes, Facebook has grown to over 2,000 employees and 845 million users.

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Image: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers his keynote address at the Facebook f8 Developers Conference in San Francisco, California.
Photographs: Robert Galbraith/Reuters.
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Zuckerberg loved computers and programming since his school days. He began writing software while in middle school.

After his father taught him Atari BASIC programming in the 1990s, a software developer David Newman taught him. Newman called him a "prodigy," adding that it was "tough to stay ahead of him."

He enjoyed developing communication tools and games.

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Image: Zuckerberg's desk.
Photographs: Reuters.
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He even built a software program he called 'ZuckNet', which allowed all the computers in the house and his father's dental office to communicate by pinging each other.  

It is considered a 'primitive' version of AOL's Instant Messenger, which came out the following year.

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Image: Mark Zuckerberg.
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During Zuckerberg's high school years, he built a music player called the Synapse Media Player that used artificial intelligence to learn the user's listening habits. 

At Harvard, he began a program he called CourseMatch, which allowed users to make class selection decisions based on the choices of other students and also to help them form study groups.

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Image: An illustration picture shows a woman looking at the Facebook website on a computer in Munich.
Photographs: Michael Dalder/Reuters.
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Later, he created a different program he initially called Facemash that let students select the best looking person from a collection of photos.

The site went up over a weekend, but by Monday morning the college shut it down because its popularity had crashed the Harvard's server and prevented students from accessing the Internet.

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Image: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers his keynote address at the Facebook f8 Developers Conference in San Francisco, California.
Photographs: Robert Galbraith/Reuters
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However, many students complained that their photos were being used without permission.

Zuckerberg apologised, but went ahead with many more big plans. Zuckerberg realised that there was a huge potential in social networking.

After the Facemash issue, students wanted an internal website that would publish photos and contact details.

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Image: US President Barack Obama is presented with a hooded sweatshirt from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg after a town-hall meeting at Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto.
Photographs: Jim Young/Reuters

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Mark decided to take this up if the university did not start such a site. Zuckerberg began writing code for a new web site in January 2004.

On February 4, 2004, Zuckerberg launched 'Thefacebook', originally located at facebook.com.

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Image: US President Barack Obama attends a town-hall meeting at Facebook headquarters with CEO Mark Zuckerberg in Palo Alto.
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The membership was initially restricted to students of Harvard College, and within the first month, more than half the undergraduate students at Harvard registered for this service.

It became serious business and needed more focus and strategy to develop the site.

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Image: A superman costume hangs at a telephone booth for private cell phone discussions at the new headquarters of Facebook in Menlo Park, California.
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Eduardo Saverin took care of the business aspects, Dustin Moskovitz was the programmer and Andrew McCollum, the graphic artist.

Chris Hughes soon joined Zuckerberg to help promote the Web site.

Together they made a cracking team.

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Image: An employee works in the international user operations area at the new headquarters of Facebook in Menlo Park, California.
Photographs: Robert Galbraith/Reuters

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In March 2004, Facebook expanded its reach to Stanford, Columbia, and Yale. It soon opened to the other Ivy League schools, Boston University, New York University, MIT, and gradually most universities in Canada and the United States.

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Image: Facebook on iPhone.


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Facebook was incorporated in mid-2004, and the entrepreneur Sean Parker, who had been informally advising Zuckerberg, became the company's president.

In June 2004, Facebook moved its base of operations to Palo Alto, California. The first investment came from PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel.

The company dropped 'The' from its name after purchasing the domain name facebook.com in 2005 for $200,000.

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Image: Mark Zuckerberg.

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By 2005, the company was valuated at $100 million for an additional funding of $12.7 million by 3 more investors.

The turning point came with software biggies like Microsoft and Goldman Sachs investing the company. By 2011, Facebook has aggregated a total of $2.36 billion in funding.

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Image: Mark Zuckerberg.
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Most of Facebook's revenue comes from advertising. Microsoft is Facebook's exclusive partner for serving banner advertising, and therefore Facebook serves only advertisements that exist in Microsoft's advertisement inventory.

Facebook is rapidly increasing user base and revenues.

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Image: Mark Zuckerberg on the cover page of Time magazine.


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The company had revenues to the tune of $3.7 billion in 2011, and $1 billion as net profit.

The profit grew 65 percent last year from $606 million in 2010.

And in a historic move for the company, it has filed for a $5 billion initial public offering (IPO), making it one of the biggest in tech history and the biggest in internet history. Facebook has indeed conquered the world.

The IPO will value Facebook between $75 and $100 billion.


Image: Mark Zuckerberg.
Photographs: Reuters.
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