There have been various versions on what led to and how Facebook came into existence in which one of it is the Hollywood version.
However, there is the real version of how it started and came also into limelight.
The Hollywood version featured a Harvard student who needed a tool to date girls while the real version couldn’t be further from the truth as Mark Zuckerberg told Mathias Dopfner in an interview with “Die Welt am Sonntag.” At this very time, he already had a girlfriend – Priscilla Chan, now his wife and he was already obsessed with the internet.
At that time, Google had been great for searching of news and Wikipedia was great for searching of reference materials but there was a distinct gap.
Mark said “as at that time, there was no tool you could go and learn about people and I didn’t know how to build that. Instead, I started with little tools” while he had the interview with Dopfner.
While he was in school, he built a small tool called as Coursematch where people could list what classes they were taking.
He did build the Facematch tool also, as seen in “The Social Network,” but that was a prank, he said. Instead, the foundation of Facebook can be traced back to a college kid who spent much time programming and not enough time to listen in class.
Below is how Zuckerberg turned a study tool into a social network, and why no one else built it.
Mathias Dopfner: But how did Coursematch become Facebook?
Mark Zuckerberg: For the final class called the “Rome of Augustus”, it was an art history class in which there was all this pieces of art in the class and they were going to show you a handful. You would need to write an essay about the historical significance of that piece of art.
It dawned on me that I knew nothing of this stuff when it was time for the final as I hadn’t paid much attention in the class because I was programming other things. So, using coursematch as a study tool I built a little service that showed you at random one of the pieces of art and allow you enter what you thought was significant from an art history perspective.
Thereafter, I sent out to the email list for the class and said “hey, I have a study tool, and everyone just filled in what is significant about all pieces of art and it ended up being this great social study tool.” I think the test grades were higher than they had been in the past, that year.
There were all these different projects when I was at Harvard, like 10 different things. I thought I should put some of these stuffs together in creating a tool where people can share whatever they want the people around them. And that was how Facebook came in its first version.
Mathias: How long did the development take?
Mark: Building the first version of Facebook took just two weeks because I had so much stuff before then.
Mathias: And of course, you probably hadn’t the idea that this could transform into a three hundred billion dollar company?
Mark: No, not at all.
Mathias: Where did you sense that it could really be a big thing?
Mark: I actually remember very specifically the night I launched Facebook at Harvard. I used to go out with a friend to get pizza who I did all my computer science work with. And I remember, talking to him as I said, I am happy we have this at Harvard because now our community can be connected but someone is going to build this for the world one day.
And I didn’t even think it might be us. It wasn’t like; I hope we can turn this into something big. In my mind there was no way this is going to be us. All I ever thought was, it was going to be someone else as we are just college students. When I look back on the last 12 years, what has been the most surprising is that no one else did it.
Mark: I just think it’s because there were all these little reasons not to embark on it.
You know people at every step of the way said, “Oh that’s just for young people” so they didn’t work on it as much as they could. Or, “a bunch of people are using it, but it will never make money” or “it works in the US but it’s not going to work around the world” etc… All these been different reasons by people.
Mathias: And you just did it?
Facebook began from there and now the 13-year-old social network has grown into a company investing in the future, from artificial intelligence to virtual reality.