Who started Facebook?

Facebook entered the world in the halcyon days of 2004 – almost 20 years ago now.

Its inception is fairly well documented, popularised by the Hollywood movie ‘the social network’ in 2004, so you will know the name Mark Zuckerberg, and might remember the name Eduardo Saverin.

However, who else contributed to the founding of Facebook and what role did they play?

Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg is perhaps now one of the most recognisable names in the world.

Still the CEO of Meta, Zuckerberg was there from the start, and came up with the idea of ‘the facebook’ whilst studying a Harvard in 2004. He developed it from ‘FaceMash’, an application he developed as joke, allowing users to ‘rate’ the attractiveness of female fellow students.

Mark is now a multi-billionaire, and remains very much the face of the company. He is married, to Priscilla Chan, with the couple having two children together. The family live together in Palo Alto, California, although Zuckerberg is reported to have around 10 other properties.

Eduardo Saverin

Perhaps the second most favourite name associated to Facebook’s infancy is Eduardo Saverin. Saverin was played by Andrew Garfield in ‘the social network’.

In his role as a co-founder of Facebook, Saverin was Chief Financial Officer. He also fronted a significant proportion of the original money needed to build the platform.

His role was to monetize the platform, driving advertising revenues or revenues directly from its user-base. ‘the social network’ depicts resistance from Zuckerberg on this front, but it is unclear to what extent this was true.

What is clearer, however, is that when funding for the platform was no longer an issue, Saverin was effectively manoeuvred out of the company. He originally held 30% of shares in Facebook. This fell to 24% when Zuckerberg created a new company under Delaware Law to acquire the old one.

Then, Saverin signed an agreement gaving him 3 million shares of common stock in the Delaware corporation. In return, he handed over all relevant intellectual property and turn over his voting rights to Zuckerberg. Now, as the sole director, Mark could issue new shares. He started out with issuing 9 million shares of common stock, which were distributed among the existing shareholders except Saverin, instantly diluted Saverin’s share to below 10%. The further dwindled away with future dilution.

Dustin Moskowitz

Dustin Moskowitz is the final person who received a stake in the original Facebook, owning a 5% share.

Moscowitz shared a dorm room with Zuckerberg at Harvard. He was one of the three (Zuckerberg, Moscowitz & Hughes) who dropped out of Harvard in June 2004, to move Facebook to Palo Alto and helped develop the platform from there.

He became Facebook’s first Chief Technology Officer and then Vice-president of Engineering. He remained with the company for 4 years, leaving in 2008 to co-found the project management platform Asana with Justin Rosenstein, another Engineering Manager at Facebook. Asana went public in 2020 in a deal valuing the platform at about $5.5billion.

Dustin married his Girlfriend Cari Tuna in 2013. He was played by Joseph Mazzelo in ‘the social network’.

Chris Hughes

Chris Hughes was another room-mate of spent time in Palo Alto. However, he decided to return to Harvard to continue his studies. In 2006, after graduating, Hughes relocated to Palo Alto to rejoin Zuckerberg and became involved in Facebook again.

Hughes was unofficially responsible for beta testing and product suggestions. When they decided to open Facebook to other schools, Hughes argued that they should have their own networks to maintain the feeling of intimacy. He was also a key driver in developing many of Facebook’s popular features, which led to the opening of Facebook to the outside world. As a result, Hughes became the primary spokesman for Facebook.

In 2007, Hughes left Facebook. In 2012, he purchased a majority stake in The New Republic. He became publisher and executive chairman, and served as editor-in-chief of the magazine. The magazine was not profitable during Hughes’ tenure and was eventually sold in 2016.

Hughes is married to Sean Eldridge, and the couple have one child together. He was played by Patrick Mapel in ‘the social network’.

Andrew McCollum

A lesser-known contributor to the beginnings of Facebook is Andrew McCollum. Another of the original collegemates from Harvard, McCollum worked at Facebook from February 2004 to September 2007, before returning to Harvard to complete his Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science.

He’s now CEO of ‘Philo’, an American internet television company.