The fabulous life of Mark Zuckerberg
More than 1.4 billion people around the world use Facebook today, thanks to founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Connecting that many people — and, of course, selling them ads — has made Zuckerberg and his company quite a bit of cash.
The Harvard dropout's current net worth is about $33.4 billion, putting him at No. 16 in Forbes's ranking of the world's billionaires. Here's a closer look at the life of the simultaneously down-to-earth and yet extravagant CEO.
- Edward and Karen Zuckerberg, a dentist and a psychiatrist respectively, raised four children: Randi, Donna, Arielle, and, of course, Mark, in Dobbs Ferry, New York. A precocious child, Mark created a messaging program called "Zucknet" using Atari BASIC at age 12. As a kid he also coded computer games for his friends.
- While attending high school at the renowned Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, he built an early music streaming platform, which both AOL and Microsoft showed interest in. Still a teen, he rejected offers for an acquisition or a job.
- He wasn't just a computer nerd though. Zuck loved the classics — "The Odyssey" and the like — and he became captain of his high school fencing team.
- Soon after Zuckerberg started at Harvard University in 2002, he earned a reputation as a skilled developer. He started "The Facebook" with several friends out of his dorm room and dropped out of school after his sophomore year to focus on it full-time.
- Before dropping out, Zuckerberg met his now-wife, Priscilla Chan. Chan told "Today's" Savannah Guthrie that they met at a frat party. "On our first date, he told me that he'd rather go on a date with me than finish his take-home midterm," she said.
- The company raised its Series A — $12.7 million — when Zuckerberg was barely legal drinking age. The rest is history. In 2010 he was named Time Magazine's "Person of the Year."
- Not many tech CEOs get to see themselves immortalized on the big screen, but in 2010, "The Social Network" put a dramatized version of Facebook's founding story in theaters. It earned eight Academy Award nominations but Zuckerberg strongly maintains that many of its details are incorrect.
- Aaron Sorkin directed "The Social Network." Zuck may have hated the movie, but Sorkin's hit TV show "The West Wing," is one of his favorites.
- Zuckerberg took the company public on May 18, 2012. The IPO raised $16 billion, making it the biggest tech IPO in history until Alibaba won the spot late last year.
- Chan and Zuckerberg continued to date throughout Facebook's rise to greatness and the lovebirds finally got married the day after the company went public. The relatively low-key event was actually a "surprise" wedding: Guests thought they were celebrating a med school graduation party for Chan. They tied the knot at their Palo Alto home.
- Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong performed and Mark designed Priscilla's ruby ring himself.
- The two honeymooned in Italy, flying in on a private jet and staying at a five-star hotel, Portrait Suites, where rooms start at €800 per night. But paparazzi also spotted the couple eating in McDonald's while overseas.
- The couple tends to set aside two weeks every December to travel, sometimes visiting Chan's family in China.
- Zuckerberg studies Chinese, and his Mandarin was so good by fall 2014 that he managed to hold a 30-minute Q&A in the language.
- They have an adorable Hungarian sheepdog named Beast who looks like a tail-wagging mop and even has his own Facebook page.
- Occasionally selling Facebook stock keeps Zuckerberg so rich he doesn't need a salary: The CEO makes $1 a year. He did, however, require $610,454 in 2014 for catered, privately chartered jets for himself and his guests.
- And he's far from flashy with his wealth. "He’s the poorest rich person I’ve ever seen in my life," Tyler Winklevoss once said of Zuckerberg in an interview.
- The CEO notoriously dons either a hoodie or a gray t-shirt. No designer suits here.
- Instead of a Tesla or a Ferrari, Mark Zuckerberg drives a black Volkswagen GTI with a manual transmission, which costs around $30,415.
- Zuckerberg would rather spend his money on privacy.
- In October 2014, he shelled out $100 million for 750 acres of secluded land on Hawaiian island Kauai. He's using the land to build a private getaway.
- In Palo Alto, Zuckerberg spent more than $45 million buying his 5,000-square-foot home and then all the other land and buildings around it.
- He also bought a $10 million mansion in San Francisco, and then proceeded to spend more than $1 million on remodeling and additions (like a $60,000 greenhouse).
- During the renovation, he allegedly hired people to sit in cars parked near the house at night to save parking spaces for the construction workers.
- Besides privacy, Zuckerberg spends his money on trying to make the world a better place. He donated $992 million to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation in 2013 and $75 million to San Francisco General Hospital in 2014.
- Zuck's been much looser with Facebook's money than his own, though: The company has some major acquisitions under its belt, including $1 billion for Instagram, $19 billion for WhatsApp, and $2 billion for Oculus.
- But even Zuckerberg can't always get what he wants: He tried to buy Snapchat for $3 billion in 2013, but CEO Evan Spiegel turned him down.
- Besides other tech celebrities, Zuck frequently meets with other important people like Brazil's president, Dilma Rousseff...
- In Singapore, artist Zhu Jia dedicated an exhibition to him called "The Face of Facebook."
- Slightly less glamorous: Earlier this year an New York graffiti artist debuted a Zuckerberg portrait made of feces.
- At 31, Zuckerberg is one of a very small, elite group who has more billions of dollars than he has years on earth.
- But despite his billions, Zuck seems incredibly down-to-earth. He holds regular "Townhall" style Q&A sessions where he chats with regular people from all over the world. Here's a shot from one that took place in May: