Tom'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
Dec 23, 2010

it was ok
Read in December, 2010

Here is one of the rare cases where I say the film ("The Social Contract") is better than the book. Mezrich's version of Facebook's founding is a fast read but one told primarily through the eyes and voice of Eduardo Saverin, the partner who has claimed he was cheated and misled by Facebook originator Mark Zuckerberg. As such, it is just one-half of the usual "he said/she said" story. Since the book was published in early 2010, we don't know yet the final outcome of Saverin's litigation against Zuckerberg, nor the end result of a similar suit brought by the Winklevoss twins, the Harvard students who claim Zuckerberg stole their idea for a social network website.
It is clear the book falls in the "nonfiction novel" category, as Mezrich provides us not only with spoken dialogue but also interior thoughts as the various characters ascend in elevators, fly in jets, row sculls and size up drunken parties. Too many passages are introduced by ambivalent disclaimers like "Maybe somewhere inside of Mark's thoughts, he knew..." and "As Eduardo watches the banker...maybe he wonders, for the briefest of seconds, if he is going too far." The tale is told in dramatic scenes that jump around and seem to cry out "Buy my movie rights." (Columbia Pictures did.)
If the book was based primarily on information supplied by Saverin, it still leaves a great deal unanswered about Saverin's character and motives. Just what was it about Zuckerberg, with the personality of an automaton, that attracted Saverin? As the book tells it, Zuckerberg was an awkward Harvard junior who had acquired some campus fame as a hacker of the university's computer system. Saverin, a senior, is shown as admiring Zuckerberg's geekiness and chutzpah but also being frustrated by Z's aloof attitude. Saverin's other friends were fellow members of one of Harvard's private clubs -- typical smart-alecky, highly social frat boys. So just what was it that made these two opposites bond? Saverin clearly was far more emotional about their friendship and apparently grew jealous when Zuckerberg left Cambridge and gravitated toward Napster party boy Sean Parker in Palo Alto. But the book doesn't spell out clearly what Saverin thought he would accomplish by freezing the Facebook bank account. The book coyly hints there might have been more than a business partnership but stops short of alleging a gay component to their relationship. Yet Saverin's decision to drop his girlfriend and head off to a lonely career start-up in New York after his graduation certainly made me wonder. Perhaps some day Zuckerberg will give us a memoir that provides the other half of this story.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Marc Weaver I agree. I think it's kind of odd to write about a friendship without both sides. I felt like Eduardo had a hidden motive, like paying Ben to set this book up so people can feel bad for him or something. Nevertheless, I'd say it was an interesting read, even if it was kind of biased in a way.

Prerna It's 'The Social Network'. :)

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