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Background

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Education

When Mark Zuckerberg was young, in high school, he went to Private School and took graduate courses at a local college. For university, he attended Harvard and majored in Computer Science & Psychology. Zuckerberg, however, never finished his degree and dropped out to pursue his social networking site, Facebook.

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Skills & Interests

Zuckerberg learned how to code at a very young age and developed games for his friends.

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Values

He values connecting people around the world and creating something worth sharing. Mark’s entrepreneurial interest came from his desire and hobby to create new solutions to problems he faced or thought needed to solved.


Zucknet


When Zuckerberg was about twelve, he created Zucknet. This was an instant messaging system that allowed anyone in his household to communicate with each other and allow the receptionists at his father’s dental practice notify him when there were patients in the waiting room. Mark developed an interest in programming at a very young age. He knew how to use Atari BASIC, and applied it to create Zucknet.

MVP - July. 1996

(8 years before Facebook, Mark was 12 years old)


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error-flat.pngCustomer Problem

Zuckerberg saw a lack of efficiency in communication between individuals in different locations. He realized this problem because Zuckerberg’s father had a dental practice that was located right beside their house, but it was hard for them to communicate. He needed a way to communicate with his father without disrupting his family or his business.


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Zucknet was made for his family members who wanted to be able to leave messages and contact each other regardless of where they were in the house or dental office. It was also for the receptionists and his father who wanted to easily contact and communicate their office activities and appointments.

Leaps To Faith

Zucknet was created 2 years before instant messaging. He saw that his father was having these communication problems and utilized his experience in programming (Atari BASIC) to create Zucknet.

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Value Proposition

This version of an instant messaging system, while very basic, had not been seen before, and it allowed members of his household and the dental practice easy and accessible communication 2 years before instant messaging became a reality.


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Customer Discovery

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Zuckerberg introduced Zucknet to members of his family and they continued to use it until AOL messenger took over.





Synapse


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When Zuckerberg was in high school, he created Synapse with a friend. Synapse was a program that used machine learning to recommend new music based on the user’s current music taste. Zuckerberg worked with another classmate in high school, and the two of them worked to create the Synapse Media Player together. The two used math to calculate probabilities of the songs on your screen.



MVP - Jan. 2002
(2 years before Facebook)

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Customer Problem

Zuckerberg didn’t know why your playlists couldn’t figure out what to play next when a playlist ended and thought this was a problem he could solve. Zuckerberg wondered why playlists just end and couldn't figure out what to listen to next. He wanted to change the system in how playlists were created. ​

Customer Segmentation

Synapse was made for Zuckerberg himself initially and was used by friends of him who listened to music frequently and had similar problems of figuring out what to play after a playlist ends. Seven months after its September 2002 release, the online technology newsgroup slashdot.org ran an article about the program. Almost immediately, Synapse was fending off calls from WinAmp, Windows Media player, Moodlogic and MusicMatch. Synapse discovered the sale of their customers.

Leaps To Faith

Zuckerberg wanted to make music selection easier. For the first time, Zuckerberg used and applied artificial intelligence into the music industry. He used math to determine algorithms on a users' music habits, and help himself get rid of his hated playlists.

Value Proposition

Synapse provided convenience and the ability to continuously listen to music that blends together.

Customer Discovery

Since it was made for Zuckerberg originally, he didn’t do much research into customers, but told his friends about it and showed them when they sounded interested. Testing Synapse with his friends, he made the app free to download, more users got to test and try the app. ​Once Synapse was released, slashdot did a review on their site, 1000+ users quickly wanted to use the app.


"Software belongs to everyone. No matter what kind of deal we get into, we’re going to try to keep it free.”

- Mark Zuckerberg

Coursematch


Coursematch was a program that allowed students at Harvard to see who and how many people were enrolled in each class. Zuckerberg made a very simple website that had a complete list of all the courses at Harvard. It allowed users to display which courses they were taking, find what courses their friends were taking, and what similar courses people would take.

MVP - October 2003

(A few months before Facebook’s launch, Mark was in Sophomore Year)

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Customer Problem

Students at Harvard have trouble deciding which courses to take at the beginning of each semester. ​Zuckerberg realized that there was no way for students to see what courses their classmates were taking and that people often relied on friends advice and choices during course selection.

Customer Segmentation

The target customer for this were the students at Harvard who were deciding which classes to take and are interested in what other people are doing, or want other people to be able to see what classes they’re enrolled in.

Leaps To Faith

There were no resources provided by Harvard that tells who was in each class. Students decided which courses to take by asking their friends physically. Zuckerberg utilized the community of students to build the platform where they could share online the courses that they were taking, and see who else was in those classes. Not only could students then see which classes their friends were in, but they could also creep their crushes and other people they didn't know too well.

Value Proposition

Zuckerberg made course selection easier and more transparent for students. CourseMatch provided a way to stay connected with friends and gain knowledge on who your classmates are.

Customer Discovery

Students wanted to know how many people were in each class and who was in each class before enrolling into it. ​Zuckerberg realized he could help students at Harvard in do exactly this. Zuckerberg first introduced this to his friends who were having trouble picking courses and co-ordinating courses with their friends. This spread through word of mouth and more people started to use it. He gained feedback from his friends the other people who started to use it as he continued to better the site.


“I decided that instead of going to orientation events, I wanted to program a study tool.”

- Mark Zuckerberg

Facemash


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Facemash is a website that allows users to compare pictures of two students from Harvard, and choose/rank the most attractive picture. It was made just for fun in Zuckerberg’s college dorm room and was a similar version to Hot or Not. In order to collect images, he hacked into Harvard’s database, and used his programming skills to create a website. He said that he didn’t know that it would get so popular because he just made it for fun.

MVP - Nov. 2003

(3 months before Facebook's launch)

This is the original layout of Facemash. It looks simple, but gained a lot of popularity.

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Customer Problem

There was no place to see all the pictures of people in the residences at Harvard at once and find out who the people they went to school with were. There was also a lack of entertainment available for the students at Harvard

Customer Segmentation

This was for people who wanted to look at and rate girls, including both guys and girls.


Leaps To Faith

Having every Harvard's student's face online, allowing everyone to publicly rate girls.

Value Proposition

FaceMash allowed people to look at girls. Zuckerberg created a way for students to be entertained that pushed peoples' privacy.

Customer Discovery

Zuckerberg emailed a link to FaceMash to some friends, who sent it to some other people, who sent it to others. FaceMash got so popular that it crashed Harvard’s internet although, despite the popularity, people were offended by the concept of the site and felt that their privacy was breached because the pictures were used without permission.


Art Final Website


MVP: Jan. 2004

(1 week before Facebook’s launch)

Mark didn't prepare for his art final exam, so he created a website with pictures of art pieces and a comment section for students to share notes for the final.

Customer Problem

It was hard for students in the art class to study for the final with hundreds of art pieces to memorize with it’s corresponding information. He came up with this problem when he spent most of his time creating FaceMash and forgot to study. He needed a quick way to memorize and absorb all the content.

Customer Segmentation

The intended customer for the website was Zuckerberg himself. He then realized that this product can help other students in his class as well, and shared it with them. The customers quickly change to the students in the Art Class that had trouble studying for the final.

Leaps To Faith

At Harvard, many people did not collaborate in group settings. Also, due to the nature of an uncommon elective course, there were little resources available for studying. When Zuckerberg was limited in time because he didn't study, he was struggling. He imagined a lost opportunity when he did not study with his classmates. He realized that it was not too late. He coded his website and shared it with his class.

Value Proposition

It was a collaborative platform for online note sharing, with image and note sharing that gave students an effective and efficient way to study. This made group studying possible in an easy way that students have never used before.

Customer Discovery

He was so focused on creating Facebook, he didn’t do any studying. Zuckerberg realized that he was not the only one, so he sent the link to his classmates and they all found it useful, and also contributed to it. Therefore also changing his customer segments.



Facebook


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Facebook is an online social networking platform. While working on Harvard Connection, Zuckerberg developed Facebook in his dorm room and launched it February 2004.


Facebook = Zucknet + Synapse + FaceMash + CourseMatch + Harvard Connection


MVP - February 2004

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Customer Problem

The problem was staying connected with people and updated on what friends are doing.

Customer Segment

Harvard students who were social and want to keep in touch with people they meet, also students who wanted to know what their friends were up to.

Leaps To Faith

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Value Proposition

Zuckerberg introduced a way for students to share their information online. Facebook provided a way for people to connect on campus that had never been created before. This provided a means to build relationships online in a new way.

Customer Discovery

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MVP: Mar. 2005


Zuckerberg challenged the limits of privacy settings steps at a time. Users were very upset with their lack of control over their privacy settings. Zuckerberg realized that he made a major mistake, and coded for two days straight to add the necessary privacy options. He realized he should listen to the users in order to fix issues as quickly as possible, to let them know he cared about his product and them.

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Customer Problem

The customer problem was staying connected with people and updated on what friends are doing.


Customer Segmentation

Expand Facebook to multiple university and college campuses. Eventually, his vision changed to creating a useful product for the general public.

Leaps To Faith

The biggest fear of new couples is their relationship status. For many it takes a long while before deciding whether you're in a relationship, if it is complicated, or even single. Zuckerberg made it a new norm to change ones relationship status and tell the world. That moment is the most nerve racking moment, yet makes a statement.

Value Proposition

People wanted to feel connected with people around the world and stay updated with their lives.

Customer Discovery

By introducing relationship status updates, he got individuals to post publicly. If he can get people to do that, he can get people to do more. He took an unorthodox approach to customer discovery and released the feature based on his assumptions about user needs that he had gathered from previous MVPs. Although this feature faced backlash at first it gave him valuable insights into what users’ needs and wants were in regards to sharing their life and privacy.

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Success & Challenges

Facebook caught on and became popular within Harvard. He moved to Palo Alto in the summer of 2004 to focused on developing facebook and eventually dropped out of Harvard to continue with it.


The journey in creating Facebook was not smooth despite its successes. There had been various lawsuits that impacted Zuckerberg and Facebook. One of these involved the Winklevoss Twins, the founders of Harvard connection. They claimed that Zuckerberg stole their idea, who originally denied the claim before incriminating messages were found and a settlement was made. Another lawsuit involved Eduardo Saverin, one of Facebook’s co-founders. After Zuckerberg moved to Palo Alto and brought Facebook with him, him and Saverin had many disagreements on how they should run the company. Eventually, with the help of Peter Thiel and Sean Parker, they removed Saverin from the company by dissolving Saverin’s shares.



MVP: July. 2006


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Customer Problem

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Customer Segment

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Leaps To Faith

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Value Proposition

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Customer Discovery

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Takeaways

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“Software belongs to everyone. No matter what kind of deal we get into, we’re going to try to keep it free.”
- Mark Zuckerberg