Company Name: Facebook, Inc.
Industry: Social Networking Service
Date Founded: February 4, 2004
Location: Menlo Park, California United States
Mission Statement: 
“Give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.”

The Facebook Story

How many of us still remember these social networking sites even before we started using Facebook?

  • Bebo
  • Ringo.com
  • Orkut
  • Tribe.net
  • MySpace
  • AOL
  • Friendster

I bet they all ring a bell. After all, before social media was a “thing”, there were already these operating platforms available. But what happened to them? And how come when we don’t have a Facebook account, some people are surprised? This is the story of how Facebook became the “godfather” of social media…


Facebook probably is popular as Mark Zuckerberg’s brainchild or Mark Zuckerberg is popular because of Facebook. Either way, we all can associate their success with each other. As we all know, Mark started Facebook with his college roommates and fellow Harvard University students Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz, and Chris Hughes. It was initially limited to Harvard students but was expanded to higher education institutions in the Boston area, the Ivy League schools, and Stanford University. Let’s take a tour down memory lane to see how it all started.

Back in 2002, Mark Zuckerberg started Facemash, a website set up as a type of “hot or not” game for Harvard students. The website allowed visitors to compare two student pictures side-by-side and let them decide who was hot or not. Facemash “used photos compiled from the online facebooks of nine Houses, placing two next to each other at a time and asking users to choose the ‘hotter’ person”. To accomplish this, Mark Zuckerberg hacked the “facebooks” Harvard maintained to help students identify each other and used the images to populate his Facemash website.

Mark & Team

Some old photo of the 1st Facebook Team

Nike WHQ

The old Facebook Interface.

We all know how Facemash turned out. A few days after it was opened, it was shut down by Harvard executives. Mark Zuckerberg faced charges of violating copyrights, breach of security, and violating individual privacy for stealing the student pictures that he used to populate the website. The good news was, he wasn’t expelled! Which basically set up an opportunity for Mark to work on another venture while in school.

Enter the Harvard seniors Cameron Winklevoss, Tyler Winklevoss, and Divya Narendra who contacted Mark to write the codes for a social networking project they were working on called HarvardConnection.com after their previous developer dropped the job. Unbeknownst to the group was that Mark was also developing a competing project call “thefacebook”. And thus, the start of the drama that Mark and his team faced for years. Just six days after the launch of the site, the Winklevoss’ and Narendra accused Mark of intentionally misleading them into believing that he would help them but instead stole their ideas along the way. 

It was a well documented drama that went to court with different sides of the stories that was eventually settled. By then, Facebook’s popularity and massive growth overshadowed its controversies. In March 2004, Facebook expanded to the universities of Columbia, Stanford, and Yale. It later opened to all Ivy League colleges, Boston University, New York University, MIT, and gradually most universities in the United States and Canada. 

As Facebook grew, so were the people involved with the team. By mid-2004, entrepreneur Sean Parker—an informal advisor to Zuckerberg—became the company’s president. In June 2004, Facebook moved its operations base to Palo Alto, California. It received its first investment later that month from PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel. In 2005, the company dropped “the” from its name after purchasing the domain name facebook.com for US$200,000. In May 2005, Accel Partners invested $12.7 million in Facebook, and Jim Breyer added $1 million of his own money. A high-school version of the site was launched in September 2005, which Zuckerberg called the next logical step. (At the time, high-school networks required an invitation to join.) Facebook also expanded membership eligibility to employees of several companies, including Apple Inc. and Microsoft. 

On September 26, 2006, Facebook was opened to everyone at least 13 years old with a valid email address. Here’s a quick look of Facebook’s growth since then:


Significant Milestones

  • December 11, 2005 – 2,000+ colleges and 25,000
  • Late 2007 – Facebook had 100,000 business pages
  • October 2008 – set up its international headquarters in Dublin, Ireland.
  • February 2011, Facebook had become the largest online photo host
  • October 2011, over 350 million users can access Facebook thru mobile
  • May 17, 2012 – Facebook went IPO negotiating a share price of US$38.
  • 2012, Facebook App Center, an online mobile store, was rolled out.
  • January 15, 2013, Facebook announced Facebook Graph Search
  • January 2014, Facebook’s market capitalization had risen to over $134 billion.
  • February 2014 – bought Whatsapp for US$19 billion in cash and stock.
  • April 24, 2014, announced a new feature called FB Newswire.
  • July 2014 Facebook acquired LiveRail between $400M-$500M
  • February 24, 2016, Facebook launched Facebook Reactions

Mark Zuckerberg ringing the Nasdaq opening bell.

The story of Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook teaches us a lot of things in business depending on how or which angle we’re looking from. If you’re looking at the Winklevoss’ story, it teaches you to secure your idea like your life depended on it. A great idea seldom comes up and if it does, make sure you value it. Similarly, choose the people you work with and draft an agreement, a contract if you have to.

If you’re looking into Mark’s story, driven by his passion to bring about change and granting easy access for people to connect with friends, relatives and even strangers through a social platform that negates geographical boundaries, then it teaches you to be relentless, to seize opportunities and to play within the rules.

Mark Zuckerberg looked into all the predecessors of Facebook. What they had, what they didn’t have. He saw what needed to improve, what were to retain. He was looking at a direction no other developer was willing and ready to thread. And thus, he opened the door and walked the path that defined his and Facebook’s success.

While most of the old competition were gone, Facebook’s standing strong with over 1.79 billion monthly active users globally. Now, that’s what we call… P-O-W-E-R!!!


Resources: Wikipedia, Facebook Website, Business Insider

Be An Inspiration

Do you have your own inspiring business story? Tell everyone about it!