Few people on earth are as successful as Mark Zuckerberg.
The Facebook CEO has grown his social network from a Harvard dorm room to nearly 2 billion users over a period of 13 years. With a stated mission to connect the world, Facebook is now working on drones and other methods of bringing internet access to unreached parts of the globe.
Zuckerberg has complete control over Facebook’s future, thanks to his majority voting rights. And with a net worth of roughly $63 billion, 33-year-0ld Zuckerberg has joined the ranks of CEO Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffet as one of the richest people on earth.
Together with his wife Priscilla Chan, Zuckerberg has committed to give away 99% his wealth before he dies. He’s already poured millions into education efforts and has pledged billions more to initiatives like curing the world’s diseases.
We’ve collected the highlights from Zuckerberg’s humble beginnings in a New York suburb to becoming one of the most powerful CEOs in the world:
While a titan of Silicon Valley now, Zuckerberg was raised in the quaint town of Dobbs Ferry, New York. He was born to Edward and Karen Zuckerberg, a dentist and psychiatrist, respectively. He has three siblings: Randi, Donna, and Arielle.A precocious child, Mark at age 12 created a messaging program called “Zucknet” using Atari BASIC. He also coded computer games for his friends at a young age.(Facebook/Mark Zuckerberg)While attending high school at the renowned Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, he built an early music streaming platform, which both AOL and Microsoft showed interest in. Still a teen, he rejected offers for an acquisition or a job.He wasn’t just a computer nerd, though. Zuck loved the classics — “The Odyssey” and the like — and he became captain of his high school fencing team.Sadly this isn’t actually ZuckerbergSoon after Zuckerberg started at Harvard University in 2002, he earned a reputation as a skilled developer. His first hit was “Face mash,” a hot-or-not-style app that used the pictures of his classmates that he hacked from the school administration’s dormitory ID files. It got 22,000 page views from 450 people in the first four hours it was up. Harvard quickly ordered it to be taken down, citing copyright and security concerns. (Reuters)He started “The Facebook” with several friends out of his dorm room and dropped out of school after his sophomore year to focus on it full-time.Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is seen on stage during a town hall at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California September 27, 2015 (REUTERS/Stephen Lam)Before dropping out, Zuckerberg met his now-wife, Priscilla Chan. Chan told “Today’s” Savannah Guthrie that they met at a frat party. “On our first date, he told me that he’d rather go on a date with me than finish his take-home midterm,” she said.Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan (Kimberly White/Getty Images for Breakthrough Prize)Zuckerberg wasn’t always the polished statesman he is now. In Facebook’s early days, he carried business cards that read, “I’m CEO, Bitch.”Zuckerberg’s company raised its $12.7 million Series A round of funding while he was barely legal drinking age. The rest is history.Not many tech CEOs get to see themselves immortalised on the big screen, but in 2010, “The Social Network” put a dramatised version of Facebook’s founding story in theaters. It earned eight Academy Award nominations, but Zuckerberg strongly maintains that many of its details are incorrect.Jesse Eisenberg (right) and Justin Timberlake in ‘The Social Network’ (Columbia Pictures) Today, nearly 2 billion people around the world use Facebook. The company makes billions of dollars every quarter by showing them ads.Zuckerberg took Facebook public on May 18, 2012. The IPO raised $16 billion, making it the biggest tech IPO in history. Zuckerberg became the 29th richest person on earth overnight.Chan and Zuckerberg continued to date throughout Facebook’s rise to greatness and the lovebirds finally got married the day after the company went public. The relatively low-key event was actually a surprise wedding. Guests thought they were celebrating a med school graduation party for Chan.
Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong performed at their wedding. Mark designed Priscilla’s ruby ring himself. Green Day (Getty)The two honeymooned in Italy, flying in on a private jet and staying at a five-star hotel, Portrait Suites, where rooms start at €800 per night. Paparazzi spotted the couple eating in McDonald’s while overseas.
Zuckerberg studies Chinese, and his Mandarin was so good by fall 2014 that he managed to hold a 30-minute Q&A in the language.Chan and Zuckerberg have an adorable Hungarian sheepdog named Beast, who looks like a tail-wagging mop.In 2015, he and Priscilla announced they had given birth to a happy, healthy little girl named Max. “There is so much joy in our little family,” Zuckerberg wrote on Facebook.Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan Zuckerberg with daughter Max () They also announced their plan to sell 99% of Zuckerberg’s Facebook stock — worth about $45 billion at the time — to fund a new LCC called the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. The initiative will funnel the money towards issues like personalized learning, curing diseases, and connecting people.Even before announcing this massive new effort, he and Chan had committed $1.6 billion to philanthropic causes, including donations to San Francisco General Hospital and the Center for Disease Control.In September 2016, Chan and Zuckerberg pledged $3 billion to curing the world’s diseases by the end of this century. “Can we help scientists to cure, prevent or manage all diseases within our children’s lifetime?” Zuckerberg wrote on Facebook. “I’m optimistic we can.”(REUTERS)
At 33, Zuckerberg is one of a very small, elite group who is worth more billions of dollars than years he has lived.But Zuckerberg is far from flashy about his wealth. The CEO notoriously wears only a hoodie or a grey t-shirt with jeans.Picture: (David Ramos/Getty)Instead of a Tesla or a Ferrari, he drives a black Volkswagen GTI with a manual transmission, which costs around $30,000.He also owns several other cars, including an Acura TSX. He reportedly paid for an Italian Pagani Huayra supercar, which starts at a cool $1.3 million.Along with philanthropy, Zuckerberg likes to spend his money on privacy.
In October 2014, he shelled out around $100 million for 750 acres of secluded land on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. He angered locals by trying to force out people who owned small parcels of land sprinkled throughout his estate. He later dropped the lawsuits.In Palo Alto, Zuckerberg spent more than $45 million buying his 5,000-square-foot home and all of the other land and buildings around it.He also bought a $10 million mansion in San Francisco, and then proceeded to spend more than $1 million on remodeling and additions (like a $60,000 greenhouse).
During the renovation, he allegedly hired people to sit in cars parked near the house at night to save parking spaces for the construction workers.Zuck hasn’t been afraid to spend Facebook’s money either: The company has some major acquisitions under its belt, including $1 billion for Instagram, $19 billion for WhatsApp, and $2 billion for Oculus.(Getty Images)But even Zuckerberg can’t always get what he wants: He tried to buy Snapchat for $3 billion in 2013, but CEO Evan Spiegel turned him down.Besides other tech celebrities, Zuck frequently meets with other important people, like Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff…Snoop Dog… and President Obama. This is from a visit back in February 2011. Zuckerberg and Chan have many friends in the tech world too. In August 2016 they attended Spotify CEO Daniel Ek’s wedding at Lake Como, Italy.In May 2017, Chan and Zuckerberg announced that they had another baby on the way.Zuckerberg familyZuckerberg emcees Facebook’s annual developer conference every year, where he gives updates on the company’s roadmap. Before the conference attracted thousands of attendees, Zuck would present in flip flops.Zuckerberg gives himself a personal challenge every year. One year he only ate meat he killed himself, and during another year he ran a total of 365 miles.Zuckerberg runningFor 2017, his goal is to visit every US state. His stops have sparked speculation that he has plans to run for president one day, which he has denied.
He surprised a family of Trump voters in Ohio by showing up for dinner. The family wasn’t told who their mystery visitor was until 15 minutes before he arrived in a caravan of black SUVs with his entourage and bodyguards.
Zuckerberg has always been passionate about political issues, but he kicked up his rhetoric significantly around the time that Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. He was one of the first tech CEOs to denounce Trump’s initial executive order on barring people from predominately Muslim countries from entering the US.
In May 2017, Zuckerberg returned to his alma mater, Harvard, as its youngest commencement speaker ever. He received an honorary doctorate as well. (Reuters)Zuckerberg’s commencement speech was passionate and emotional. He touched on a range of politically-charged topics, including climate change, universal basic income, criminal-justice reform, and “modernizing democracy” by allowing people to vote online.Despite his billions, Zuck still appears to be incredibly down-to-earth. His office is enclosed by glass walls, and he holds regular “Townhall” style Q&A sessions with Facebook’s thousands of employees.
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