Mark Zuckerberg is the founder, chairman, and CEO of Facebook (FB). Here's how he built the vastly successful social media business.

Early Life and Education

Mark Zuckerberg was born on May 14, 1984, in White Plains, New York, and was raised in nearby Dobbs Ferry. He was born into a well-educated family and developed an interest in computer programming at an early age.

At the age of 12, Zuckerberg created a messaging program named Zucknet that he implemented as an inter-office communication system for his father's dental practice. Due to his early signs of success, his parents got him a computer programming tutor while he was still in high school, and they enrolled him in a prep school in New Hampshire.

After graduating from prep school, Zuckerberg enrolled at Harvard University.

Success Story

While many intelligent people attend Harvard University, Mark Zuckerberg became known quickly as the go-to computer programmer on campus. By his sophomore year, he had already built two programs: CourseMatch and FaceMash. Both programs became wildly popular, but the university shut down the latter program after it was deemed to be inappropriate.

Based on his acclaim on campus, Zuckerberg partnered with friends to create a social networking site that allowed Harvard students to connect with each other. The site officially went live in June 2004 under the name "The Facebook," and Zuckerberg ran it out of his dorm room.

After his sophomore year, Zuckerberg dropped out of college to pursue what was then called Facebook, full-time. The website reached one million users by the end of 2004.

This explosion of user growth attracted the attention of many venture capital (VC) firms, and Zuckerberg eventually moved out to Silicon Valley in 2005. Facebook received its first round of venture capital investments from Accel Partners, which invested $12.7 million in the site that was still only open to Ivy League students.

By the end of 2005, however, Facebook had opened up to students attending other schools, causing the website to reach 5.5 million users. Since 2005, Facebook received numerous acquisition offers from the likes of Yahoo and Microsoft, has been through legal battles, and has greatly increased its user base.

On Oct. 30, 2019, Facebook released Q3 earnings. The company reported that daily active users averaged 1.62 billion for September 2019, an increase of 9% year-over-year. Monthly active users totaled 2.45 billion, an increase of 8% year-over-year. As of Jan. 30, 2020, the company has a market cap of $598 billion. Zuckerberg owns over 375 million Facebook shares and holds 60% of voting rights in the company.

Net Worth & Current Influence

Mark Zuckerberg has a net worth of $78 billion as of Jan. 29, 2020.

When it comes to influence, Zuckerberg has signed the Giving Pledge, which means he will donate at least 50% of his net worth to philanthropic causes before he dies. In 2010, for example, he donated more than $100 million to save the Newark school system in New Jersey.

When his daughter Max was born, Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan authored an open letter in which they pledged to give away 99% of their net worth during their lifetime. However, many have criticized the method by which Zuckerberg is donating his fortune. The charitable foundation Zuckerberg and Chan have set up is a limited-liability corporation, not a charitable trust. This decision allows the two to do things that charitable trusts are not allowed to do, which in turn could make the foundation more effective, though it might also benefit their family more than a traditional trust.

Corporations can make for-profit investments and political donations. Unlike charitable trusts, corporations are not required to report their political donations.

In April 2018, Zuckerberg testified before Congress after it was revealed that the company had shared users' data with the political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica. Forbes has credited the quick drop of Facebook’s stock price following the company's July warning to investors of slowing growth and profit margins to the growing impact of the battle between profit and privacy, citing the Cambridge Analytica story and Facebook's growing inability to protect users from harmful misuse and misinformation.