Mark Zuckerberg will be celebrating two milestones in the year 2009: his 25th birthday in May and the five-year anniversary of his social networking site Facebook. He created the site with fellow computer science majors and roommates Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes while attending Harvard University. A year after MySpace took the Internet world by storm, Facebook debuted in February 2004 for college students only.
Soon, the world of Facebook began to expand, as it became available for college students, teenagers, and people of all ages across the world. The site gives people the opportunity to develop not only their profile, but to stay in touch with their family, friends, and those they haven’t seen in a long time through email, writing on their Walls, poking them, and so forth. Facebook also allows them to join as well as create groups or organizations of similar goals and interests, post and create upcoming events, be a member of their favorite celebrity’s fan club, etc.
Yet Facebook wasn’t without controversy, as it endured a legal war against founders of ConnectU (twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss and Divya Narendra), who accused Zuckerberg of stealing their idea while at Harvard and using the source code he was hired to make for their site. Judge James Ware ruled in Zuckerberg’s favor last year – which included the $15 billion valuation presented in the Microsoft investment.
Facebook issued a statement after the verdict posted by The New York Times:
“We are happy that Judge Ware enforced the agreement settling our dispute with the Connect U founders. … The Connect U founders understood, and we are gratified that the court rejected their false allegations of fraud. … We were disappointed that we had to litigate the settlement, as we believed we were caught in the middle of a fee between ConnectU’s founders and its former counsel. Nevertheless, we can now consider this chapter closed and wish the Winklevoss brothers the best of luck in their future endeavors.”
Like his site, Zuckerberg has had his share of controversy as well due to his wealth. Though Facebook’s worth has gone from $100 million in 2005 to $15 billion in 2007 to $1.3 billion last year, he still became the youngest person ever to be on Forbes‘ 400 – ranked at 321. He was also named by TIME Magazine as one of “The World’s Most Influential People” of 2008, as Facebook continues to beat out MySpace and Twitter for the top spot in worldwide social networking with more than 175 million users.
“Facebook,” Comscore senior analyst Andrew Lipsman said to The Detroit News last year, “is particularly good at being hip and cool for the young while being pretty simple and having functionality that works for the 30-plus crowd.”