On May 25, 2017, the programmer and billionaire philanthropist Mark Zuckerberg delivered a speech at Harvard University where the 366th ceremony of awarding academic degrees was held.
To develop his company he had to interrupt his studies in 2005. The creator of the Facebook social network received a degree 12 years after leaving Harvard.
Mark Zuckerberg has always been interested in how the world works, from absolutely all sides: languages, culture, logic, psychology, and even sports. His father began to teach him programming in BASIC on the family’s Atari computer.
Mark, as a 12-year-old schoolboy, wrote a computer program for instant messaging which connected his father’s dental office with their home. In the family it was jokingly called ZuckNet. Later, his father hired a programming tutor for Mark. David Newman gave private lessons to the future founder of the most popular social network.
He had no doubt where to go to study – he purposely entered one of the most prestigious universities, not only in America, but also in the world – Harvard. He entered the Faculty of Psychology. However, his other interests did not leave him: one of these areas was IT-technologies.
When the letter came from Harvard, young Zuckerberg was playing the computer game “Civilization.” He saw the letter and rushed to tell his father about it without even reading the letter, in which there could have been a rejection. His father recorded on video the moment when Mark opened and read the letter. And today the parents of the billionaire proudly remember this day, although in his life there have been many victories.
Despite the fact that Zuckerberg entered the faculty of psychology, one of the most vivid memories for him is the first lecture on computer science. Zuckerberg shared this memory with the alumni in his motivational speech, calling Harry Lewis an “incredible” teacher. “I was a little late, I came to the lecture in a T-shirt and did not even realize that it was inside out and backwards. I don’t know why, but no one in the lecture hall told me about this except for Kang Xing Jin. So we started solving our problems together, now he solves them on Facebook and manages a large part of it.”
Harvard quickly dispersed rumors about the achievements in computer science by a student from the psychology faculty. In the rest of his academic career, Zuckerberg was not particularly different: at that time he did not seek academic achievements; he focused almost all of his attention on programming. One day, on the eve of his exams, he needed to learn about 500 paintings by famous artists. But instead of studying books in the library as the rest of the students did, Zuckerberg quickly wrote a web page. On the page he posted pictures of all the paintings and asked students to tell in the comments a couple of words about each. In just a few hours he had a whole abstract ready, and two days later he had an excellent mark.
However, the student from the psychology faculty also made useful projects, such as CourseMatch: a small application that helped to easily select additional courses based on students’ preferences.
In Harvard’s internal computer network there was a section where students posted their photos and personal data. The photos were so-so — just usual fronts of faces and profiles with tense expressions. And then a joke came to young Mark’s mind. He made a program that chose two random faces and asked the user to compare who is sexier. There was no consent given by those who were chosen for analysis. By the evening of the first day the site was viewed by four thousand people. When the number of visitors exceeded twenty thousand the server crashed. Zuckerberg appeared before the commission on computer hacking. The site Facemash which he created had made noise and everyone expected that the author of the daring joke would be expelled from Harvard.
Without waiting for the decision of the administrative council, his friends arranged a farewell party. Priscilla Chan was in attendance. “I met her on the line for the restroom, and it was the most romantic line. I told Priscilla: “I’m going to be kicked out in the next three days so we need to arrange a date as soon as possible.”
Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan had dated for several years. One day in May 2012, the couple invited guests to a party in honor of the fact that Priscilla received her Ph.D. However, after coming to the celebration, the guests found that they were at a wedding instead.
Today Mark Zuckerberg, his wife Priscilla, and their two daughters live quite modestly for a family of billionaires. For a long time they were satisfied with a modest home in Palo Alto California. Recently they bought a really big property for $7 million, also in Palo Alto, which is considered today the unofficial capital of Silicon Valley.
On December 1, 2015, on the eve of the birth of his eldest daughter Maxim, Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan wrote her a letter: “Max, we love you and feel a great responsibility to make this world a better place for you and all children.” On December 2, 2015 Mark Zuckerberg said that 99% of Facebook shares will be donated to charity. At the time, the cost of the gift was $45 billion.
Facebook and finding a goal
The speech of Mark Zuckerberg was not just a parting word for Harvard graduates in 2017. Even now it is possible to call this statement the manifesto of the millennial generation.
Zuckerberg’s goals are obvious: to unite people together to make the world a better place. He admits that communicating with people who found themselves in a vital impasse made him realize that it was time to rethink the concept of the goal. In his speech he says bluntly: “In order for our society to move forward, our generation must overcome the test and not only create new working specialties and places, but also renew the sense of purpose.”
Talking about how Facebook started, the founder of the most famous social network of the world remembered how he felt the necessity and inevitability of changes throughout the world at that moment and the understanding that just as they united the Harvard community, soon someone will unite the whole world: “It never crossed my mind what we would become. We were ordinary guys from college. We knew nothing about this. There were already large technology companies with huge resources. And I thought one of them would do it. But the idea itself was so clear to us – all people want to be connected with each other. And we just started moving towards this goal, day by day.”
Social networking sites quickly became popular among students. And all because it was convenient and practical for them. Here it was possible to create groups on interests, parties, or joint courses. You could write to a friend from the second floor so that he took his notes with him. You could easily find out who is new this year, what they look like, what courses they were enrolled, and where you can meet a girl or boy you like.
But it can not be said that this success was given to Mark Zuckerberg too easily. Along with the increase in the number of users a good server was required, which Mark and his comrades could not afford. Therefore, in 2004 Mark made a decision: he collected all the remaining money of his parents which they had saved for his studies and went to conquer Silicon Valley.
Loneliness on the top
In 2005, Mark renamed the site to the familiar Facebook. In 2006, the social network became available to all users over13 years old. In 2007, the site opened for third-party developers and the number of users exceeded 400,000. In 2008 Facebook became the largest social network in the world, reaching 90 million users. In the same year, the site was translated into 20 languages in order to reach an even larger audience.
In 2010, Mark Zuckerberg was recognized as the man of the year according to Time, in the same year there was a film about the phenomenon of Facebook, “Social Network”. In 2011, the social network becomes the largest host of photos and conquered the mobile applications market, reaching 350 million users.
And the louder the success, more were willing to buy and, most importantly, sell Facebook. In 2006, the rates began with $750 million. But Zuckerberg said that this amount is only a third of what he would consider. Later, Yahoo offered $1 billion, but he also refused. Many also said that Google tried to buy Facebook, but this information has so far remained a rumor.
Meanwhile, Zuckerberg did not care about money but whether it was possible to unite more people. There was a first version of the Facebook news feed and along with it the hope was born that this would change the usual ways of obtaining information.
At that time, Zuckerberg’s dreams looked too ambitious because in the eyes of many people his project was just a good start-up. So, you just need to come up with something new, develop it, and quickly sell it to a large company.
Not only potential buyers, but also acquaintances, business consultants, and top Facebook managers urged Zuckerberg to sell the company.
Three ways to reconstruct the world
Zuckerberg sets goals for improvement every year. For example, in 2009 he wore a tie every day for work. In 2010, he learned the Mandarin language. In 2012, he wrote a code every day. In 2014, he set a goal to write a thank-you note every day by e-mail or regular mail.
But he would not be the leader of his generation if he only called on people to unite and try harder. The Harvard speech of the Facebook founder, in fact, contains a program that will implement the changes that are needed.
In the world there are very few people who clearly understand the challenges of modernity as well as the head of one of the most powerful IT companies Mark Zuckerberg does. After all, these challenges are precisely connected with what can be called a technological transformation of the world. However, according to Zuckerberg, there are significant breakthroughs in this direction for every generation. The beginning of the era of space exploration, the victory over serious diseases, the general resistance to natural disasters – all this became not only a common goal for millions of people, but also a common pride in the fact that together they were able to do something great.
Zuckerberg believes that the challenge for millennials will be a new technical reorganization, in which automated systems will appear and replace tens of millions of jobs. And this world will require new ideas.
The great things that millennials have to do together should, according to Zuckerberg, not only contribute to progress but also help everyone find their goal. Projects that unite a generation can be solutions for the following tasks:
- to stop climate change,
- to attract millions of people to the production and use of solar power,
- to cure all diseases and recruit volunteers who will share information about their health and genome,
- to modernize democracy, including through online voting,
- personalize education and make it accessible to everyone.
Zuckerberg became the one who, perhaps for the first time in a long time, loudly and distinctly said aloud that successful people owe their success to accomplishments, as well as breakthrough ideas and diligence. It’s not enough to come up with new ideas. It’s not enough to work without rest. It is also necessary that the circumstances develop in your favor. That is why, speaking of a new understanding of equality, he calls for the necessary economic and social conditions for this.
- Universal basic income which will give everyone a financial airbag.
- The ability to constantly receive relevant knowledge and continue learning for life.
- Available childcare and health care, not tied to one employer.
- A favorable environment which will not focus attention on mistakes, so as not to prevent a person from trying new things.
The global opportunities that Zuckerberg sees for himself and his peers requires a global change in people’s minds. First of all, because the tasks facing the millennials can not be solved by the forces of one nation or even one continent.
To become a generation that will defeat pandemics and poverty, reverse climate change, and make the world more stable and comfortable for life people of the 21st century should unite in a global community with a common vision of the tasks in front of them and the desire to solve them.
Leadership for common opportunities
Speaking on behalf of a generation, setting tasks for himself, and proposing a plan to solve them – all this requires courage. But we knew for a long time that Zuckerberg had plenty in him. What we may not have known about him before, is how well he understands the price of being in a position of leadership.
When he says “we”, Mark Zuckerberg invites other successful millennial entrepreneurs to follow his own example. He himself has long financially supported educational projects that will help create a world in which everyone can find his goal.
The Zuckerberg Foundation Startup: Education provided $120 million in 2014 for educational programs for children from low-income families in San Francisco.
The private non-profit school of Priscilla Chan “The Primary School” in Palo Alto is designed to provide free education and health insurance for children of local poor people.
The largest city in the state of New Jersey, Newark, received $100 million in 2010 from the founder of Facebook for educational reform. A new form of labor relations with teachers, experimental training programs, and specialized schools in different areas of training – all together yielded an impressive result. Students of Newark schools who graduated increased by 69% over the past 7 years.
In addition, the Zuckerbergs support about 200 U.S. public schools where new methods and specialized training programs are being applied.
The price of Zuckerberg’s leadership, which was talked about after the Harvard speech, is not only expressed in money or measured by it. There is also a moral obligation – to be an example of openness and readiness for unity, to constantly support progressive ideas, and not be afraid of the new. This perhaps is the most difficult. But he is managing.