BOSTON (CBS/AP) – In 2004, days after Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg launched his new website, thefacebook.com, he told the Harvard Crimson that he had no intention of making any money off of it.
“I’m not going to sell anybody’s e-mail address,” he told the Crimson in 2004. “At one point I thought about making the website so that you could upload a resume too, and for a fee companies could search for Harvard job applicants. But I don’t want to touch that. It would make everything more serious and less fun.”
The Harvard undergrad had just launched the site and had already seen 650 students sign up.
“I’m pretty happy with the amount of people that have been to it so far,” he reportedly said at the time. “The nature of the site is that each user’s experience improves if they can get their friends to join it.”
Eight years later, Zuckerberg is one of the world’s youngest billionaires. Scores of others have become overnight millionaires thanks to the site Zuckerberg put together in his college dorm room.
Those who have seen The Social Network, have a rough idea about the story behind Facebook.
The 2004 Crimson article said Zuckerberg had grown impatient waiting for Harvard to put together an official university face book online.
He spent a week coding the site before its official launch.
“Everyone’s been talking a lot about a universal face book within Harvard,” Zuckerberg said to the Crimson. “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.”
Today, Facebook has come to define social networking by getting 900 million people around the world to share everything from photos of their pets to their deepest thoughts.
The company is valued at more than $100 billion, more than Amazon.com’s and that of other well-known companies such as Kraft, Disney and McDonald’s. It’s a big windfall for a company that began eight years ago with no way to make money.
For a company that was born in a Harvard dormitory and went on to reimagine online communication, the stock sale means more money to build on the features and services it offers users. It means an infusion of money to hire the best engineers to work at its sprawling California headquarters, or in New York City, where it opened an engineering office last year.
Web Extra: WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Joe Mathieu’s Interview With Harvard Professor Harry Lewis, Who Taught Zuckerberg In College
And it means early investors, who took a chance seeding the young social network with start-up funds six, seven and eight years ago, can reap big rewards. Peter Thiel, the venture capitalist who sits on Facebook’s board of directors, invested $500,000 in the company in 2004. He’s selling nearly 17 million of his shares in the IPO, which means he’ll get some $640 million. He will hold on to about 28 million shares, worth $1.06 billion.
But the story of Facebook doesn’t end here. In fact, it could just be the beginning. While many can guess, not even Mark Zuckerberg can truly predict where the company that started in a Harvard dorm room will be in 2020.
(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)