Facebook is the largest social network in the world today but how did it all begin? The original website was initially limited to Harvard students only, but quickly expanded to additional colleges in the Boston area, other Ivy League schools, then eventually just about every University in North America, up till now where 1 out of every 7 people on earth is on Facebook. It was founded by Mark Zuckerberg and some of fellow college roommates at Harvard University including Eduardo Saverin, Dustin Moskovitz, Andrew McCollum and Chris Hughes.
Facebook however, actually started out in theory on October 23, 2003 when Zuckerberg launched Facemash.com. Facemash allowed visitors (basically his Harvard classmates) to compare two student pictures side-by-side to let them decide who was "hot" and who was "not". Mark was able to populate the site with student pictures by hacking into Harvard's database. However, days later outraged students demanded Zuckerberg shut down the site. But one thing was clear, people like to go on the Internet and check out pictures of their friends. What's not clear was Zuckerberg was also working on another site called HarvardConnection.com for Cameron Winklevoss, Tyler Winklevoss and Divya Narendra who later sued Mark for allegedly stealing their idea with the creation of Facebook. But we've all seen the social network movie by now, if they invented Facebook why didn't they invent Facebook? The two parties would eventually settle the lawsuit on undisclosed terms.
On January 11, 2004 Zuckerberg registered thefacebook.com domain. He mentioned in an article in The Harvard Crimson that he was inspired by the Facemash incident to create Facebook, "It is clear that the technology needed to create a centralized Website is readily available ... the benefits are many." Mark also stated that he wanted to create a website that can connect people around the University. He figured it would take Harvard years to implement the system that he and his buddies could put together in a week or so. According to his roommate, Dustin Moskovitz, "When Mark finished the site, he told a couple of friends ... then one of them suggested putting it on the Kirkland House online mailing list, which was ... three hundred people." Moskovitz continued to say that, “By the end of the night, we were ... actively watching the registration process. Within twenty-four hours, we had somewhere between twelve hundred and fifteen hundred registrants."
Shortly after their launch the buzz about Facebook grew and eventually they got discovered by Sean Parker (the former co-founder of Napster) who began to advise informally. By June 2004, Facebook received it's first private investment from Peter Theil, the founder of PayPal, for $500,000 in exchange for 10.2% of the company. Sean Parker also became president then of the newly incorporated Facebook. They continually rolled Facebook out across college campuses and by December 30, 2004 over one million members were registered!
Facebook's domination continued to grow until it became the 2nd most visited web property online. In August 2009, Facebook acquired the real-time news aggregator site FriendFeed. And then in April of 2012, Facebook made a huge splash in the market by acquiring Instagram for approximately $1 billion dollars.
Facebook officially filed for an intitial public offering (IPO) on Februaury 1, 2012. The preliminary prospectus declared that Facebook was seeking to raise $5 billion in investment capital. At the time, the company announced having 845 million active users and its website had over 2.7 billion daily likes and comments. After the IPO, Zuckerberg would retain a 22% ownership stake in Facebook with 57% of the voting shares. The underwriters of the IPO valued the shares at $38 each, pricing the company at $104 billion, the largest valuation ever to date for a new company going public.
In January of 2013, Facebook introduced Graph Search to help users find out more about what they're looking for based on their friends and connections. This feature lets you search through data shared by friends to discover new people and interests, restaurants, music and much more. This is the first major step Facebook has taken towards competing with Google in search, and they have a wealth of our social data that can be explored.
Be sure to check out the ultimate history of Facebook visualized below by MyLife! So what do you think the future holds for Facebook?