Friday, October 15, 2010

Book #63 - The Accidental Billionaires

77692098[1] When I first saw the previews for The Social Network, I thought, “really, a Facebook movie.” I knew it was based on The Accidental Billionaires, but didn’t think about buying the book. Then a few weeks later I heard Ben Mezrich on the Jim Rome show and bought the book that day. I’ve read a few other books that Mr. Mezrich has written, like Bringing Down the House, and I like his work. So I bought the book.

Most of the book seems more centered on Eduardo Saverin, co-founder of Facebook, and that makes sense. He was interviewed for the book, along with many others, but Mark Zuckenberg, the CEO, wasn’t. I had no idea that this kid was so young, and I was surprised to hear that Facebook has been around less than a decade. Lots of interesting things in the book, but it’s a classic story.

A genius at Harvard starts building this website around social stuff, it takes off, he becomes famous. What you learn is that he originally hacked together a photo comparison application at Harvard, and hacked into various dormitory databases to get photos of everyone. He was called before a review board, but managed to now get into trouble.

We also learn that the $65mm payout to a couple of other graduates, two twins that rowed crew, was allegedly because they had asked Mark to work on a social site for them. I’m not sure they had a great case for the lawsuit, but I’m sure that since Facebook is worth billions, with a “b”, that they were just paid off.

The co-founder, who was estranged and sued as well, put up the initial money to get the site going, but got pushed out one summer when Mark Zuckenberg went to live in CA with Sean Parker, of Napster and Plaxo fame (didn’t know that).

Also, Facebook was orginally after the Harvard books listing students.

It’s not a great story, but an interesting read, especially for those people that wonder how Facebook came about. The book ends just as Facebook takes off.

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