Can.I.Rock.it?

Facebook History: Get Your Facts Straight

In I heard... on October 21, 2010 at 5:42 am

What the Movie Didn’t Tell you

By now, you should have seen the The Social Network, the most talked about and ‘relevant-to-our-generation’ film of 2010, based on the creation of Facebook. If you haven’t been living on this planet, get yourself to a cinema asap and come back to me. As I usually do when I watch movies based on true events, when I returned home from a screening of the film last week, the first thing I did was Google (and Facebook) the real story.

This is what I found.

Facebook History: Get Your Facts Straight

FACT: As depicted in the film, Mark Zuckerman really did create his Facebook predecessor, ‘Facemash’ under the influence of alcohol while simultaneously insulting his ex-girlfriend on his blog. Here are the original transcripts of Zuckerman’s LiveJournal blog.

You can’t really help but feel like this is piece of internet history!

Jessica Alona, believed to be Zuckerberg’s real (ex) girlfriend at the time, has never spoken to the media. Her name was one of very few that screenwriter Aaron Sorkin changed for the movie (Jessica became Erica Albright, played by Mara Rooney). Sorkin told Grouchin Reviews,

“There was no need to embarrass this person more. You have the exact same movie and the exact same truth if you don’t do that. So don’t do that.”

FICTION: In the film, FaceMash, Zuckerberg’s first known accolade, was a website for users to vote the attractiveness of various university women next to one another . However, contrary to the portrayal of Zuckerman as a frustrated computer nerd with a grudge against the female race, FaceMash was in fact a website for users to vote the attractiveness of both women and men.

 

Zuckerman has a longterm girlfriend called Priscilla Chan who he met around the time that he founded 'TheFacebook'. They began dating when he hired her to work at Facebook in 2005.

 

FICTION: The movie alludes that FaceMash, created from Zuckerberg’s Harvard dormitory, received 22,000 hits within two hours after it was ’emailed to a few friends for advice’. To most of us, that would imply that the site had 22,000 individual visitors in a very short time. With only 2,000 students per graduating class at Harvard, the figures didn’t add up. The actual numbers of visitors to the site was in fact just 450, as reported by the Harvard Crimson newspaper. A staff writer for the university paper wrote,

“In the course of one day, the number of visitors quadrupled—by 10 p.m… the site had been visited by 450 people, who voted at least 22,000 times,” (before it was shut down).

Nevertheless, Facemash in effect inspired the creation of Facebook, which today has over 500,00 million users, spending over 700 billion minutes of their time per month on the social network.

FACT: The domain name for FaceMash (Facemash.com) has recently been put up for sale on Flippa, with a current bid of $30,000 and a Buy It Now price of $125,000. Zuckerberg claims he actually has very little cash with all of his $6.9 billion being tied up in Facebook shares. Perhaps he has decided to flog his Facemash domain for a little extra pocket money.

FACT: Mark Zuckerberg has indeed seen the movie, The Social Network. The 26-year-old CEO took his entire staff on a company field trip to see the film and treated everyone to apple martinis  afterwards (the drink his character sips during his first meeting with Sean Parker). A rep for Facebook said:

“To celebrate a period of intense activity at Facebook, we decided to go to the movies. We thought this particular movie might be amusing.”

While Zuckerberg himself has yet to rate the film, he told one reporter that he was interested as to what impact it would have on entrepreneurship but added,

“We build products that 500 million people see… If 5 million people see a movie, it doesn’t really matter that much.”

FACT: In May 2010, Zuckerberg found himself in hot water when electronic messages from 2003 were leaked from Mark Zuckerberg’s hard-drive. A conversation between Mark and a friend went as follows.

Zuck: Yeah so if you ever need info about anyone at Harvard

Zuck: Just ask.

Zuck: I have over 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses, SNS

[Retracted Friend’s Name]: What? How’d you manage that one?

Zuck: People just submitted it.

Zuck: I don’t know why.

Zuck: They “trust me”

Zuck: Dumb f_cks

Nice to know what Facebook thinks of its 500 million users.

***

Where Are They Now?

 

Mark Zuckerberg, played by Jessie Eisenberg in The Social Network

 

Mark Zuckerberg: We all know he is still running the show at Facebook. He has an estimated worth verging on $7 billion (24% shareholder) and is the second youngest billionaire in the world (second to his Facebook co-founder, Dustin Moskovitz, eight days younger than Zuckerberg with a 6% stake in the company estimated at $1.4 billion). Despite being wealthier than Steve Jobbs, Mark lives in an extremely modest rental home with his girlfriend in Palo Alta, California.

 

Zuckerberg's House- Not exactly Billionaire's Row

 

***

Eduardo Saverin:

 

Andrew Garfield as Eduardo Saverin

 

Thought Saverin got a raw deal? Despite not having worked for the company since his falling out with Zuckerberg in 2004 after an investment of $1000 in seed money, Eduardo Saverin is the 356th wealthiest man in the world and the fourth youngest billionaire with a 5% share in Facebook. He is still listed as a co-founder.

 

Eduardo Saverin

 

He has remained an obscure figure in Facebook’s history, having gone virtually undetected by the press until the inevitable buzz of The Social Network. Saverin finally emerged from obscurity and broke his silence in an article as a guest blogger on the CNBC website. He had this to say about the movie.

What I gleaned from viewing “The Social Network” was bigger and more important than whether the scenes and details included in the script were accurate. After all, the movie was clearly intended to be entertainment and not a fact-based documentary.

Pretty vague and slightly disappointing right? Most likely, as a result of his hefty settlement with Facebook, Saverin is restricted on what he can say about the social network (both movie and company) and more specifically on the truth behind its origins. With a 5% stake in the company, it’s also in Mr. Saverin’s interest not to trash Facebook.

***

The Winkelvoss Twins:

Dubbed “The Winklevi” by Zuckerberg’s character in the film, identical 6ft 5in twins Tyler and Cameron were played by a single actor, Arnie Hammer. To believably bring identical twin towers Cameron & Tyler Winklevoss to life, director David Fincher hired two actors, Arnie Hammer & Josh Pence, but replaced Josh’s face with Armie’s throughout the film (a technique which Fincher had used with Brad Pitt in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button).

 

Arnie Hammer playing the twins

 

In real life, the brothers from an already very wealthy background are now $65 million better off in cash and Facebook shares since they received a settlement from Zuckerberg in 2008.

While both the brothers are currently preparing to represent the US Olympic rowing team in the 2012 games, Cameron recently launched a socialite website called Guestofaguest.com (based in New York, L.A , D.C and of course, the Hamptons) with similar features as Facebook such as photo tagging.

 

Divya Narendra:

His character played by Max Minghella (above) probably had one of the best scenes in the film when he sensationally fell all over himself, scrambling to gather his composure as he came to the realization that Zuckerberg had ‘stolen’ the Harvard Connection’s idea and instead launched Facebook. Months before, Zuckerberg had made a verbal agreement to write the programming for the Harvard Connection a.k.a ConnectU (conceived by Narendra and the Winklevoss brothers). Divya joined the Winklevoss’ in their lawsuit and subsequent payout from Zuckerberg. Mark’s intentions with the Harvard Connection team became clear when his hard-drive containing conversations with a friend in 2003, was leaked.

FRIEND: so have you decided what you are going to do about the websites?
ZUCK: yea i’m going to f_ck them
ZUCK: probably in the year
ZUCK: *ear

In March, 2010, Facebook (Mark) confirmed the authenticity of the messages which was quite a bold move All very fitting to Zuckerberg’s frank personality as portrayed in the film.

 

Divya Nerendra

 

Divya has since went to work for Credit Suisse and in 2010, launched his own social network  called SumZero where professional investors working at hedge funds, mutual funds, and private equity funds can share investment ideas and network with one another. It certainly doesn’t have that global, 500-million-users kind of appeal!

 

Sean Parker

 

Sean Parker, played by Justin Timberlake in the film, poses for a photo shoot in Vanity Fair magazine

 

The Social Network portrayed Sean Parker as somewhat a villain and out of control. In a recent Vanity Fair article, Parker was credited with envisaging Facebook’s full potential, mobilizing expansion and establishing its power in modern society. Vanity Fair also said of the Napster co-founder that Parker, played by Justin Timberlake in the film, “understands the web’s interface with ordinary life better than anyone, and that he’s changed the world twice, if not three times”.

As depicted in the film Parker was arrested for possession of cocaine, but no charges were filed and he was not fired from Facebook. Under the advice of Peter Thiel (Facebook’s earliest significant investor and inventor of PayPal), Sean stepped down from his position as co-founding President of Facebook but still consults Zuckerberg and maintains his shares. Parker is ever an entrepreneur and today focuses most of his attention on two up-and-coming internet heavyweights, Spotify (another music file sharing service) and ChatRoulette (an innovative live video chat phenomenon). He also finds and manages investments for Peter Thiel. The thirty-year old billionaire takes piano lessons from Sean Lennon and recently donated $100,000 to California’s bid to legalize marijuana. Parker has reportedly not lost his love for partying.

Before you go, watch this rare interview with the notorious Facebook CEO in which Barbara Walters tries to break the surface of the Zuckerman!

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