Have you ever wondered how it all started for Facebook, one of the biggest tech giants and the most successful social media platform to date?
There are multiple websites on the web dedicated to a very popular matchmaking game, named Hot or Not. One can compare between two or more photos of different individuals and rate one as hot and others as not. In 2003, Mark Zuckerberg, in his second year of college, created the antecedent of Facebook and named it ‘FaceMash’. FaceMash was developed to represent the game Hot or Not. Students from nine houses of Harvard participated. In just 4 hours of being online, the website had 450 users and 22,000 photo views. However, the Harvard administration charged Mark Zuckerberg with a violation of privacy and copyrights as well as breaching security and that led to the shutting down of the site. The charges were later dropped.
Though FaceMash didn’t get much time to shine, it did give Mark Zuckerberg enough motivation to start writing codes for another website named ‘TheFacebook’. The name was inspired by the student directory called ‘Face book’, where photos and basic information of students were stored using paper sheets. Accompanied by another student of Harvard, in February 2004, Mark Zuckerberg successfully launched the website that we all know and love, Facebook. The registration was initially limited to the students of Harvard. The idea behind it was to let the students join the network and create profiles where they could share photos and personal information. By the end of that month, the website had half of the undergraduate students of Harvard registered as users.
Feature Integration and Uprising
In 2004, TheFacebook introduced one of its most important features which it continues to develop even now over 15 years later, called the ‘Wall’. The Wall allowed two connected individuals to share posts and interact. The site ended in 2004, having approximately 1 million registered users, second only to the top social media platform Myspace which had around 5 million users at the time.
In 2005 TheFacebook dropped ‘The’ from its domain name to become what we all know it to be now, ‘Facebook’. Later that year, another major feature was added. Tagging friends, or more aptly known as ‘tagging’, allowed users to tag a friend or themself in a photo. This development many have described as the tipping point for what Facebook coined its global expansion. Expanding the network of users throughout the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Mexico, ended the year with 6 million registered users from 2000+ colleges and 25,000+ high schools.
With the growth Facebook was seeing month in and month out it was only a matter of time before the company opened its network to everyone. Anyone older than 13 with an email address could start a Facebook account.
In 2007, Facebook observed a huge increase in the creation of business pages, which allowed businesses to interact with their customers more efficiently. By the end of that year, almost 100,000 group pages were created. A sign of what the future holds for Facebook users.
Investments and Acquisitions
The initial investment for the business to start and pay for the operations of the website was made by Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin. This was $1,000 each. But it wasn’t enough for a company which was inspiring to shoot for the stars. At some point, Mark Zuckerberg met Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal, and came to an agreement. The PayPal co-founder provided the angel investment of $500,000 for a 10.2% share of the company. In later founding rounds, Facebook had investment offers from Accel Partners, Greylock Partners and Microsoft. With the newly acquired capital, Facebook set about acquiring companies. Some at prices you and I could hardly believe. In 2012, $1 billion was spent to acquire the photo-sharing app ‘Instagram’ which was followed by the significant acquisition of ‘WhatsApp’ which was purchased for $19 billion. Other noteworthy acquisitions that Facebook have made include ‘Oculus VR’, ‘FriendFeed’, ‘Ascenta’ and ‘Live Rail’.
Making Impacts Throughout the Way
Facebook has helped countless small businesses grow and be online. It has created a platform for app developers, politicians, activists, protesters and global movements to utilise a smarter, more efficient form of communication for the communities they had built. These are only a few reasons why Facebook is the powerhouse online platform we know today. Connecting those who were in the know to those looking for answers. Connecting long lost friends and relatives from the other side of the world. Connecting job opportunities to those looking for new employment. Facebook, whether by design or by chance, has built an ecosystem which has affected the 21st century like no other company.
Who knows what will happen in the next 20 years of Facebook?