Title: The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook
Author: Ben Mezrich
Release Date: July 14, 2009
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
The Accidental Billionaires is the story of the founding of Facebook. Primarily about Mark Zuckerberg, the story is told from three different points of view – Zuckerberg, Eduardo Saverin (the source of the funding for Facebook in its infancy), and the Winklevoss twins (who claim Zuckerberg stole the idea for Facebook while working on one of their projects).
With the release of the movie The Social Network, the founding of Facebook is on everyone’s mind right now. Though I do want to see the movie, I first wanted to read the book it was based on. Aaron Sorkin of The West Wing fame was asked to write a script based on The Accidental Billionaires before the book was even released; that small tidbit of information told me that this would be a book worth reading.
Mezrich presents the story of the founding of Facebook from multiple points of view, but chronologically. He doesn’t tell the entire story from one point of view, then switch, and switch again. Instead, the story unfolds as one coherent whole, but we see it through different people’s eyes along the way. It’s a very effective strategy because it gives the reader a bird’s eye view and helps them understand the different players, yet the story doesn’t get boring or repetitive.
So the question on everyone’s mind: is Mark Zuckerberg a horrible, conniving thief who wanted everything for himself? The book certainly doesn’t portray him that way. Of course, it’s difficult to come away from the story thinking that he didn’t do anything wrong – it’s very clear that he did. But his reasoning, and the way he thought, was very interesting and I appreciated the insight Mezrich gave. Of course, there’s no way to tell for certain what someone was thinking and what their motivations were, but Mezrich presents a believable story that is easy to buy into.
The Accidental Billionaires is a fascinating look at the founding of Facebook. It astonishes me that these guys were in college the same time I was – in fact, my university was among the first outside Harvard that Facebook was opened up to. I remember joining it and only being able to find one person I knew on it outside my school, simply because it was open to so few colleges. Therefore, this story was incredibly interesting to me, as these events happened so recently.
Even if you aren’t a fan of non-fiction, I’d recommend The Accidental Billionaires. It reads like a novel, so it goes incredibly quickly. On top of that, the book is well-written and incredibly interesting. I can’t say for certain how accurate it is – some say that it’s exactly how it happened, while others (namely Mark Zuckerberg) claim there’s more fiction than fact within its pages. Either way, Mezrich told a great story, and now I’m really eager to see the movie.