The Facebook Effect by David Kirkpatrick

After watching Social Network, the movie about Facebook I was put off. What am I doing on a site that was meant to pander to the raging hormones of college going American jocks? In the movie, TheFacebook (as it was originally called) was created as a place where you could see who is  linked to who, check out profiles of possible dates  and  a dark side of  Mark Zuckerberg  – nerdy , insulting,  using people, uncommunicative, inward looking , stealing ideas.

The book presents quite a different picture. The growth of Facebook from a college dorm to the world’s fastest growing company is fascinating. Laced with famous names, its jaw dropping.  The personality of Mark, a very young teenage entrepreneur, who remained firmly in control, is much more fascinating.

Facebook started off in a Harvard dorm peopled by idea spouting, nerdy, passionate and exceptional people. It succeeded at first, because Harvard has this very status conscious crowd and people felt happy to associate with anything that came out of Harvard. Colleges stood in queue to be included. By degrees it was opened up, to schools, companies and then to adults anywhere.

The part that stayed with me is an incident during the wooing of Zuckerberg by Wolf, from a venture capital company. They had been talking of a 2 billion $ dollar valuation for Facebook, two years after it got started.

“For some reason they stopped by Zuckerberg’s modest one-roomed apartment. The place was messy though mostly devoid of furnishings. There was a mattress, piles of books, a bamboo mat on the floor and a lamp. They headed for a diner at a nearby restaurant. Wolf popped the question ’why don’t you just sell to us, you’d be very wealthy?”

“You just saw my apartment”, Zuckerberg replied.” I don’t really need any money. And anyway I don’t think I’m ever going to have an idea this good again.”

And I thought, Zing! This is such a wonderful philosophy for life. Live it. Pursue an idea. Don’t let the small stuff – matter so much.

The book is about the growth of the idea and follows all the ups and downs. Maybe in a way that makes it sound very positive and touches on the skeletons lightly. But it makes very good reading.



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