Mark Zuckerberg is the co-founder and CEO of Facebook.
Born in White Plains, New York, in 1984, he attended the exclusive private high school, Phillips Exeter Academy, and then went on to Harvard, where Facebook would be born.
Zuckerberg developed an interest in computers and technology at a young age, creating a messaging platform he dubbed ‘Zucknet’ at age 12 and regularly inventing computer games in his spare time. His parents hired a private tutor to encourage his interest and talents, and Zuckerberg’s skills excelled, so much so that he began taking graduate courses at nearby Mercy College.
At Exeter, Zuckerberg was successful in numerous areas, but computers remained his primary interest. He continued developing programs, and even received offers from AOL and Microsoft for a music software he created that was a precursor to Pandora.
After his high school graduation from Exeter, Zuckerberg enrolled at Harvard. In 2004, during his sophomore year, Zuckerberg and his roommates launched Facebook, a social platform originally intended to connect students on Ivy League campuses.
Facebook grew rapidly, however, reaching one million users by the end of 2004. Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard and moved the company to Palo Alto, California.
By 2012, Facebook had amassed one billion users, and that same year had its initial public offering, the largest technology IPO in history.
Zuckerberg has come under fire on multiple occasions, the earliest regarding accusations that he had stolen the idea for Facebook from the creators of Harvard Connection. A $65 million settlement was reached, but the legal dispute dragged on from 2006-2011.
Prior to the 2016 election, Facebook was criticized for allowing the proliferation of “fake news” on the site, which led to Zuckerberg committing to improve methods for eliminating online interference and abuse. Most recently, it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica, a data firm with ties to President Trump’s 2016 campaign, had accessed private information from millions of Facebook users without their knowledge, or that of its investors. Zuckerberg testified before Congress on the matter, discussing issues of privacy, data harvesting, and regulations for social media companies.
Though Facebook’s stock has dropped from time to time in reaction to these scandals, the company continues to progress. As of January 2020, the site has over 2.5 billion monthly active users.
Zuckerberg, who achieved the title of the world’s youngest self-made billionaire at just 23 years old, is consistently listed among the world’s most powerful, wealthy, and influential people. He has given generously to philanthropic causes, and in 2010, signed the Giving Pledge, promising to donate at least half of his wealth to charity over his lifetime.
Zuckerberg married Priscilla Chan in 2012, and together, they have two daughters, Max (born in 2015) and August (born in 2017). They also established the Chan Zuckerberg initiative in 2015, a charity funded by the couple’s Facebook shares, with the plan to give away 99 percent of them over their lifetime.