Zuckerberg at 30: How He and Facebook Have Impacted IT

NEWS ANALYSIS: Some factoids about the Facebook CEO and how he and his huge social network have influenced the IT industry.

Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, who turned the Big Three-Oh on May 14, has been a cultural and business icon for the better part of a decade, or nearly one-third of his lifetime.

You already may be aware of some of the milestones and accomplishments this New York native and current Palo Alto, Calif., resident has racked up in his short time in the world spotlight.

However, in case you're not of that description, we'll list a few here in honor of his special day, and then we'll discuss briefly his influence on the IT industry.

Facts, Figures on the Man Called Zuck

First, some random Zuckerberg factoids:

-- He likes being called Zuck. We know this because he often signs messages that way.

-- His net worth, according to public information gathered by Forbes, is now about $26.6 billion, give or take a few million, even though his salary is $1 per year and has been for a while.

-- He donated $100 million to Newark, N.J.,'s troubled schools system in 2010, announcing it on Oprah Winfrey's talk show.

-- He wore a suit and tie to his 2012 wedding to Dr. Priscilla Chan, but even though he keeps getting richer and can afford some options, Zuckerberg stays mostly with T-shirts and hoodies on a daily and public-event basis.

-- Facebook broke the 1 billion-user barrier in 2012; it now is up to 1.3 billion. Zuckerberg calls that his biggest professional accomplishment.

-- Facebook, which turned 10 years old a couple of months ago, now has a market capitalization value of $173.5 billion.

-- In February, he approved the purchase of messaging app social network WhatsApp for $19 billion, the most expensive purchase of an IT startup in history.

-- Zuckerberg was rebuffed last year when his offer of $3 billion plus was famously turned down by popular photo messaging app SnapChat co-founders Evan Spiegel and Robert Murphy, but Zuck was undeterred. Facebook now is in the process of developing its own application based on Instagram, which it already owns.

-- Quote: "My goal is to build a culture of loving the people we serve."

Creating a 'Labor of Love' Culture

This is he is certainly doing. He has instilled a culture of "a labor of love" at Facebook. Results speak for themselves; perhaps Facebook's most important social value is that it has connected millions of long-lost friends and relatives, resulting in many emotional reunions.

On the other hand, Facebook also has enabled people to trace friends and relatives who do not wish to be located. Civil authorities, such as local and national law enforcement, are finding more criminals using Facebook.

Its great business value is in knowing so much about its users that the aggregate information makes for unprecedented accuracy in ad targeting.

The power and reach of this social network should not be underestimated.

As for his impact on IT since Facebook moved into the forefront of social networks—blowing by MySpace and others in the 2006-2007 time frame and never looking back—Zuckerberg's most important role has been to set up an inviting environment at Facebook that beckons a high percentage of the most thoughtful, creative software developers in the world to work together.

Facebook now provides private transportation to and from the Menlo Park, Calif., main campus for all employees who require it. Campus cafeterias are available 24/7; amenities are many there.

Soon Facebook will even be providing some subsidized housing across the street at its 22-acre subsite. Who wouldn't want to work for a company like that?

How Facebook Contributes to Developer Community

As a result, Facebook has won many recruiting wars for the highest-level software programmers and architects with competitors such as Google, Microsoft, VMware, Cisco Systems and IBM.

-- Facebook's leadership in the 3-year-old Open Compute Projects hardware—mostly about purpose-built servers—and networking areas has been exemplary. Open sourcing the specs and APIs for server and networking hardware had been a black hole for years, lagging far behind the open-source software community. Zuckerberg is to be credited directly for this.

-- Facebook's F8 developer conference has been a huge hit in terms of gathering and promulgating various subcommunities within the developer world. The number of development tools that have come out of this engagement comprise a long listing, and most are free to other developers. The company also has been very good about keeping the media and all those communities up to date on new developments through informal meetups every few months.

In summary, we've only begun to see what Zuckerberg can do in the IT world. Facebook is only as old as the term "cloud computing." What are Zuck & Co. going to do with all the new acquisitions they've picked up in the last few years?

If the last 10 years have been full of impact, the next 10 could be even more so.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...