Zuckerberg Backed Org Launches Contest to Help Grow Internet in India

A massive 69% of India’s population does not have access to the Internet. A non-profit back by Mark Zuckerberg — probably the most successful student entrepreneur of the past 10 years — has put up $1 million in prizes for creative solutions to this problem.

From TechCrunch:

The contest from Facebook-backed Internet accessibility partnership Internet.org could help millions of people recognize the value of the Internet, pursue access, and gain knowledge and opportunities that can help them get better jobs and improve their lives. That could in turn help Internet.org’s flagship sponsor Facebook gain new users that it can connect to the world.

While Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg have a clear interest in getting all those folks online, its seems there is more going on. This is philanthropy in action, making funds available to people, but demanding that they produce something that continues to provide returns to society – in this case apps that connect more people to the internet.

Mark Zuckerberg: Person of The Year 2010 – TIME

Mark Zuckerberg was named Time Magazine’s person of the year in 2010 (found this in my drafts). Looks like there are a lot of good pieces in the Time spread. From the article by Lev Grossman:

Almost seven years ago, in February 2004, when Zuckerberg was a 19-year-old sophomore at Harvard, he started a Web service from his dorm. It was called Thefacebook.com, and it was billed as “an online directory that connects people through social networks at colleges.” This year, Facebook — now minus the the — added its 550 millionth member. One out of every dozen people on the planet has a Facebook account. They speak 75 languages and collectively lavish more than 700 billion minutes on Facebook every month. Last month the site accounted for 1 out of 4 American page views. Its membership is currently growing at a rate of about 700,000 people a day.

Mark Zuckerberg – Person of the Year 2010 – TIME.

The Immoral Dorm Days of Facebook’s Formation | Dan’s FC Blog | Fast Company

Crazy post from Fast Company blog on a recent 3 part series by Business Insider tracing the early days of Facebook (oh about 6 or so years ago I think). Good stuff.

Haven’t had time to read all three fully, but apparently it covers Mark Zuckerberg and hacking and yes, Facebook has settled lawsuits with some of the people named in these stories. Can’t wait to read the rest of the stories.

Got this from Dan Nosowitz over at Fast Company. Lets not forget, that during the period of these stories, Facebook was an unfunded dorm room project — it was not a 400 million user juggernaut.

The Heady Days of Facebook’s Formation: Hacking Competitors and Smack-Talk Over IM | Dan’s FC Blog | Fast Company.

Selling Facebook Book with Sex

Wandering in Barnes & Noble today I noticed a new non-fiction book called, The Accidental Billionaires: accidentalThe Founding of Facebook a Tale of Sex, Money, Genius, and Betrayal. The cover looked like something I remember for the Nanny Diaries or some other kind of chick lit.The author is Ben Mezrich of Bringing Down the House fame.

It seems reviewers of the book on Amazon are equally mixed. I am probably not going to read this one, but I am happy to see campus based entrepreneurs getting the attention of major non-fiction writers. BTW, the book is selling on Amazon and doing pretty well in various business categories. Let us know what you think if you read it.

Facebook and the Life Cycle of Campus Ventures

Our most recent poster-boy for campus entrepreneurs has been Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook, and social media. But, with nearly 100 million users and almost $350 million in revenues,  Facebook is a giant.

An article in the WSJ by Guth and Vascellaro explores the recent departures of Facebook co-founder and head engineer, Dustin Moskovitz, and other high level employees. According to the article, “As a number of Facebook’s earliest employees move on, its ranks are being stacked with Senior Executives from Google Inc., Yahoo Inc., and other established technology firms.”

It interesting that Yahoo and Google (firms that were also founded by campus entrepreneurs) execs are specifically mentioned. The article goes on to explain that most of the changes they bring are related to managing of employees — “Among the changes they’ve brought are new guidelines for performance reviews, new recruiting processes and training programs.”

In researching what makes the campus a unique place to uncover opportunities and create new firms, we will also have to wonder at what point a successful firm will ‘grow beyond the campus’ and perhaps change into an entity that can no longer fully take advantage of the campus. Does that venture become a more ‘traditional’ firm?

Though I am stumbling with this new question — it boils down to whether or not there is a life cycle for certain successful campus ventures. When they leave their status of campus venture or campus entrepreneurs behind them.

It could be when the firm and entrepreneur move from their college/campus town to some ‘better’ location (ie Facebook’s move to Palo Alto from Boston). Or perhaps it is when they move beyond the original ‘campus as market’ model that they used (ie Facebook opening to the whole world). Or perhaps it is when they take venture funding and have serious board members and professional managers brought it (Facebook took its first real funding in the summer of 2005, one year and 4 months launch).

This life cycle question is important as is the question of whether a campus birth will have lasting effects on a firm (and its founders) even when it matures beyond being a campus venture? Any thoughts?

WSJ On Facebook App Ventures

Pretty interesting piece in today’s WSJ by Riva Richmond about successful and unsuccessful Facebook applications. At this point, Zuckerberg and Facebook are the kingpins of the campus entrepreneur space. While Gates, Brin, Dell, Smith, and others have far more money and reach, Zuck/Fbook are as hot as a pistol.

Its amazing how many other businesses have formed and are forming around Facebook. A ‘new’ industry or cluster in the way that the iPod opened incredible opportunity to other firms and to customers. Clusters are huge in economic growth theory (see Porter), but they are usually geographically (and industry) centered.

The facebook and ipod clusters center around a specific product/lifestyle. I will have to think about this a bit and whether and how these types of clusters — distributed clusters if you will — differ from more traditional clusters.

From the piece (which is worth reading and is full of great cases and stats) by Richmond:

In May 2007, Facebook Inc. invited software developers to create free software programs that members of the social-networking site could use to entertain and inform each other.

A year later, it’s time to ask: What has worked and what hasn’t?

There’s plenty to pick from. So far, more than 250,000 developers have requested the Palo Alto, Calif., company’s tools for building such applications. And more than 24,000 programs have been created, allowing Facebook users to send each other virtual hugs, share movie picks and play games, among other things. Continue reading “WSJ On Facebook App Ventures”

Forbes: Zuckerberg Youngest Self-Made Billionaire


According to Del Jones at the USA Today;

Billionaires are getting younger. Forbes magazine released its list of the world’s mega-rich Wednesday and said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, 23, became the youngest ever self-made billionaire.

Zuckerberg, born during the Ronald Reagan presidency, is worth $1.5 billion four years after launching the social-networking site and the third-youngest to crack the billionaire list since Forbes began tracking ages a decade ago. The other two inherited their money. Facebook did not respond to requests for comment.

The Forbes list often reflects the times. Bill Gates was once himself like Zuckerberg and dropped out of Harvard to launch a technology upstart. Gates is now 52 and slipped from first place in the rankings after being the richest person in the world for 13 straight years. In 1995, Gates replaced Yoshiaki Tsutsumi, a Japanese real estate investor who subsequently fell on hard times and was removed from the Forbes list in 2007.

Gates is worth $58 billion, $2 billion more than last year, but he is now third on the list. He was dislodged by Warren Buffett ($62 billion) and Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim Helu ($60 billion). Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway stock climbed $10 billion; Slim’s fortune rose $11 billion.


At Four, Facebook Is Not for Kids Anymore

Since many of my readers are undergrads and my blog feeds into Connect2Mason (a new student media site at GMU), many are users of Facebook and have been since the site’s early days — before Microsoft and Google were fighting to buy it. (Eventually MSFT got a few percent of the company and set the value at around $15 billion.)

Well, Facebook turns 4 on Feb 4, 2008 and like many 4 year olds, it development since birth as been amazing to witness.

Undergrads, the original market for Facebook, still dominate the site (by various measures) but in fact represent the past for Facebook.

You see the future of Facebook lies in the “young parent” segment. In my estimation that is the 22-45 year old segment of college/HS educated Americans, Canadians, and others who have kids under 13. Let me explain what happened in my household recently regarding Facebook and you will understand how I have come to this vision of Facebook’s future. Continue reading “At Four, Facebook Is Not for Kids Anymore”

Change in Study Abroad Model

Would Mark Zuckerberg have created Facebook if he had spent his freshman year in Barcelona instead of on campus in Cambridge?

According to an article by Anjali Athavely of the WSJ, more and more freshman are beginning to go abroad. As one who spent my Jr. year abroad (in Osaka, Japan) and lived with a family, I cannot even conceive of how different my experience in Ann Arbor and college would have been had I not spent freshman year in a huge dorm on campus? If I had not attended my first Michigan game and watched Desmond Howard win the Heisman?

As I read this article I thought about what this trend means for the campus entrepreneur. Both as students who may go abroad as freshman and won’t have access to all of the entrepreneurial tools that an American campus offers and also in terms of understanding what is different about students and schools that led to study abroad options for freshman. From the article,

But schools say these programs provide a more globally focused education. As the world economy becomes increasingly intertwined, they argue, overseas experience is an increasingly important credential. The programs also appeal to students in majors — such as the sciences — that offer less flexibility in studying abroad during junior and senior years, since they typically offer course credit for the general requirements that freshmen need to fill. In the past, students who studied abroad were primarily liberal-arts majors.

New York University already offers freshmen students in its general-studies program the option of spending their first year in Florence, Paris or London, in addition to the school’s New York City campus. In fall 2009, NYU expects to offer the option to other freshmen and allow them to apply directly to the study-abroad programs when applying for admission.

Syracuse University will offer a first-semester program for freshmen in Florence, Italy, this fall. The University of Mississippi is launching a study-abroad program in Edinburgh, Scotland, for freshman students next fall. Florida State offers out-of-state freshmen an added financial incentive: Participants in the program pay in-state tuition for the rest of their time as undergraduates at the university.

Is this just an American version of the gap year between HS and college except it lets colleges lock in students and high tuition and it gives students a safety net where they earn credit? Would we all be better off if Zuckerberg had drank sangria and chased European girls his freshman year?

Facebook On Its Way to Microsoft, Dell, Google Status

With Microsoft buying a piece of Facebook last week, the valuation was set at $15 billion. Not bad for a student entrepreneur who viewed his  campus an an ecosystem and as a market to launch his business. Zuckerberg is hot and keeps getting hotter, but it remains to be seen if he can reach the heights of the biggest (by company size) campus entrepreneurs like Bill Gates, Michael Dell, and Brin/Page. BTW, the value is 1/2 to Fedex and 1/3 of the way to Yahoo.