David's Reviews > The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, a Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal

The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich
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's review
Apr 29, 2010

it was ok

quick, sometimes amusing, read about the creation of Facebook. As possibly the last person in America not on Facebook, I was unfamiliar with the back story. As might have been predicted, the college students who started it weren't prepared to handle the skyrocketing success, and friendships imploded in multiple lawsuits about who created what when and who was cheating whom on the money.

Unfortunately, the author was unable to get the single most central character, Mark Zuckerberg, to be interviewed, which casts a long shadow over the credibility of the narrative. He comes across as a brilliant computer programmer with little human feeling for, or fairness to, his peers, but then again the sources for this account are people in litigation against him.

Relatedly, I wasn't sure how much stock to put in chapters consisting entirely of conjecture about what someone was thinking/feeling on a particular morning several years earlier while waking up with a hangover, checking email, etc. (we can picture him there in his unfashionable grey hoodie, wondering 'what was the name of that girl at the party last night'.......etc. etc. etc.) There are many such chapters in this padded 200+-page book with the substance of a magazine article. Author is clearly fascinated by the social whirlwind surrounding Harvard "finals clubs", relevance of which is minimal to the main story.

Finally, if this account is even close to accurate, in my next life I want to come back as one of the twins who settled for 65 million bucks against Zuckerberg in a suit claiming he stole their idea. They had a related but clearly not identical concept (dating site exclusively for students at elite colleges), zero ability to make it happen, put up no money, and had no written contract with him. They trained for and made the US Olympic rowing team while Zuckerberg was doing the programming and marketing of Facebook (nee "thefacebook"). Not a bad payoff for their investment of a couple planning meetings and emails with him re their idea.
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Petra Eggs $65M will set them and their families up for all time to come, but to Zuckerberg, its just an entry his accountants will deal with. I'd like to read about the founding of Facebook but its meaningless without the founder's input.

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