“The Social Network, the much anticipated movie…adapted from Ben Mezrich’s book The Accidental Billionaires.” —The New York Times
Best friends Eduardo Saverin and Mark Zuckerberg had spent many lonely nights looking for a way to stand out among Harvard University’s elite, comptetitive, and accomplished student body. Then, in 2003, Zuckerberg hacked into Harvard’s computers, crashed the campus network, almost got himself expelled, and was inspired to create Facebook, the social networking site that has since revolutionized communication around the world.
With Saverin’s funding their tiny start-up went from dorm room to Silicon Valley. But conflicting ideas about Facebook’s future transformed the friends into enemies. Soon, the undergraduate exuberance that marked their collaboration turned into out-and-out warfare as it fell prey to the adult world of venture capitalists, big money, lawyers.
You have to admire Ben Mezrich s chutzpah. To write The Accidental Billionaires: Sex, Betrayal and the Founding of Facebook, a supposedly nonfictional narrative about Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, without ever actually speaking to Zuckerberg, reveals an enviable nerve. But then chutzpah is something of a Mezrich speciality. He is the author of the bestselling Bringing Down the House, the story of an elite group of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) geeks who had the nerve to go out west and beat the bank in Las Vegas. With The Accidental Billionaires, Mezrich goes a mile or two up Cambridge s Massachusetts Avenue, traveling from MIT to Harvard and telling us the outrageous story of an elite geek who had the chutzpah to go out west and beat the bank in Silicon Valley. Six years ago, Mark Zuckerberg was a monosyllabic Harvard freshman, as brilliant in digital affairs as he was awkward in all things physical. Today, Zuckerberg remains the major shareholder and CEO of a company now valued anywhere between $8 billion and $15 billion. The Accidental Billionaires is the story of Facebook s founding, from the fall of 2003, when Zuckerberg first came up with idea of his online social network, to the fall of 2005, when the Harvard dropout (Bill Gates 2.0) got the company funded by some Silicon Valley venture capitalists. The birth of Facebook is a story about theoretical sex and money but very real betrayal. As the father of the world s most popular social network, Zuckerberg appears anything but social. Mezrich describes the young Facebook founder as not only painfully lacking in social interaction but also chillingly heartless in his dealings with friends and associates. Mezrich s Zuckerberg might be an accidental billionaire today, but there seems nothing accidental about the way in which this Internet enterpreneur relentlessly borrowed ideas and money from Harvard classmates and friends without ever properly repaying them. Given that Mezrich never actually spoke to Zuckerberg, this highly energetic and entertaining nonfictional novel should be read with a pinch of salt. But that salt is essential flavoring for this memorable bits-to-billions story. Like the many Facebook pages, The Accidental Billionaires isn t adverse to bending the truth a degree or two. This is a book with nerve about an entrepreneur with nerve. Highly recommended for those with chutzpah who want to go out west and beat the bank. --Andrew Keen