Facebook's Founder Stole the Idea for the Site

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Facebook's Founder Stole the Idea for the Site

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, was declared the world's youngest billionaire at age 24 by Forbes Magazine. But years before Facebook was a household name, Zuckerberg was hired to do some coding for fellow Harvard students starting a Web site called Harvard Connection. The Web site was designed to help college students network with one another, a premise remarkably similar to Facebook's. The rest of the story depends on whom you ask. The students behind Harvard Connection contend that Zuckerberg deliberately neglected his programming duties so that he could create a site with the same premise. Zuckerberg, on the other hand, claims his inspiration for Facebook stemmed from Harvard's reaction to Facemash, his previous Web site. Facemash had a very simple premise, allowing Harvard students to compare and rate pictures of each other. The instant success of the site (for the few days Harvard allowed the site to remain up, at least) gave Zuckerberg insight into the appeal of following friends and acquaintances online. From there, Zuckerberg claims that, considering the buzz around social networking at the time, the idea for Facebook was a natural extension of his previous work.

So what's the real story? After a lengthy legal battle between the founders of Harvard Connection (now called ConnectU) and Zuckerberg, the matter was ultimately settled out of court. According to a publication released from Harvard Connection's lawyers, Facebook agreed to pay up to $61 million in cash and stock to close the matter [source: Kincaid]. While that's a lot of money, it doesn't scratch the surface of what Facebook is worth today, which explains why the next myth on the list has yet to become a reality.

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