The much-praised film The Social Network was based in part on the Ben Mezrich book The Accidental Billionaires. And Daily Beast contributor David Kirkpatrick's The Facebook Effect tells the story from a different perspective. But beyond those books, here are the 10 best things to read about the founding of Facebook and its controversial CEO, Mark Zuckerberg.
“Harvard Face Mash: The Process,” Mark Zuckerberg’s blog, Oct. 28, 2003
Flush from a painful breakup, a drunken Mark Zuckerberg takes it out on the women of Harvard University’s exclusive “houses,” blogging about comparing their “horrendous” photos to those of farm animals. Then he hacked into the school’s directories to create facemash.com by posting their photos and inviting viewers to rank their looks. The site went live on Halloween and got 22,000 votes within hours.
“Hot or Not? Website Briefly Judges Looks,” The Harvard Crimson, Nov. 4, 2003
Zuckerberg, then known simply as a “computer science concentrator,” gets his first bit of press a week after his facemash.com experiment outrages Harvard’s co-eds and some minority groups. He shut down the site and posted an apology. “The primary concern,” he says, “is hurting people’s feelings.”
“Hundreds Register for New Facebook Website,” The Harvard Crimson, Feb. 9, 2004
Thefacebook.com launches. “Everyone’s been talking a lot about a universal face book within Harvard,” Zuckerberg tells the newspaper. “I think it’s kind of silly that it would take the university a couple of years to get around to it. I can do it better than they can, and I can do it in a week.”
“Lawsuit Threatens to Close Facebook,” The Harvard Crimson, Sept. 13, 2004
After unsuccessfully petitioning Harvard’s Administrative Board and Harvard’s president, recent Harvard graduates Divya Narendra and twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss file suit against Zuckerberg, claiming he copped their idea to launch thefacebook.com. The two sides would stay locked in litigation for the next six years.
“Hacker. Dropout. CEO.” Fastcompany, May 1, 2007
Zuckerberg talks about his early days in Palo Alto (“We never had any money.”), his new friendship with Napster founder Sean Parker (“Basically, we just let him crash with us.”), and the troubled September 2006 launch of Facebook for the masses.
“The Battle for Facebook,” Rolling Stone, June 26, 2008
Zuckerberg’s legal woes continue. Here, his ex-classmates, former friends and the folks suing him (including a fourth Harvard alum, Aaron Greenspan) help deconstruct the young mogul, his eccentricities and his unshakeable ambition. The same month this article published, Zuckerberg secretly settled with the Winklevosses and Narendra for $65 million in cash and Facebook shares.
“Well These New Zuckerberg IMs Won’t Help Facebook Privacy Problems,” Business Insider SAI, May 13, 2010
An early instant-messenger exchange made public here shows the then 19-year-old Facebook CEO bragging to a friend about the private emails, pictures, and addresses that Harvard students revealed to him because “they ‘trust me.’” “Dumb fucks,” he wrote.
“With a Little Help From His Friends,” Vanity Fair, October 2010
Sean Parker, a 30-year-old (almost) billionaire, is described here as “a svelte, wavy-maned clotheshorse” “who barely finished high school.” But the piece also points out that it was his charisma that fired Zuckerberg’s moxie and Facebook’s rapid expansion. “If Mark ever had any second thoughts,” thefacebook.com’s first investor, Peter Thiel says, “Sean was the one who cut that off.”
“The Face of Facebook,” The New Yorker, Sept. 20, 2010
A definitive profile of Zuckerberg, described here as sometimes “brusque, flat as a dial tone,” but “self-deprecating,” too. His dad is a dentist. His mother was a psychiatrist. He rents. He’s a fan of Aaron Sorkin’s The West Wing. When confronted by the IMs that showed him to be “backstabbing, conniving, and insensitive,” Zuckerberg contends, “I think I’ve grown and learned a lot.”
“Facebook: At the Movies with the Winklevosses,” BusinessWeek, Sept. 22, 2010
The identical twins who sued Zuckerberg critique and nitpick The Social Network. "The reason we were upset," says Cameron dismissing one of the film’s conclusions, "is not because life didn't work out the way it should have, but rather because what he did was wrong. His behavior was unethical."