Facebook Wins Battle of Clones as Europeans Seek Network
Facebook Founder And CEO Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook Inc. has broken through the
For years, the U.S. company’s dominance in the $10 billion
social media industry was limited outside the English-speaking
world by local copycats. Those sites are now losing traffic as
Facebook’s global reach, games and music drive membership.
Hyves, which like Facebook started in 2004, was overtaken
as the biggest Dutch social network in August, with its 7.2
million visitors topped by the U.S. rival’s 7.7 million,
according to researcher ComScore Inc. (SCOR) In Germany, the number of
users for VZ Netzwerke, formerly known as StudiVZ, more than
halved to 8 million in September from a year earlier, while
Facebook visitors rose 43 percent.
“Dutch people who want to connect with an international
friend, they cannot use my platform,” said Marc de Vries, chief
executive officer of Amsterdam-based Hyves. “I’m such a small
company in this global network world and I can never compete on
an international level.”
Facebook, which has raised $1.5 billion from Goldman Sachs
Group Inc. (GS) and Russia’s Digital Sky Technologies, needs to keep
the site growing before a possible initial public offering.
While Europe’s fragmentation, with almost 50 countries, has
helped create sites with local languages, news and discussion
forums, the global scale of Facebook makes it increasingly
difficult for them to compete.
Facebook’s decision to offer the site in several local
languages helped the U.S. network to “be super-local in Europe
and now it has just mastered Europe,” said Jan Rezab, CEO of
researcher SocialBakers. Facebook started Spanish, German and
French versions in 2008 and later added languages such as
Russian, Dutch, Danish and Italian.
In Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, the owner of former
market leader VZ Netzwerke last month shelved a potential
sale or initial public offering for the site amid declining user
numbers and worsening financial markets, according to a person
with knowledge of the matter.
StudiVZ, an abbreviation for “students’ directory,” was
started in 2005 and sold in 2007 to Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH
for 85 million euros ($116 million) following initial success.
StudiVZ was renamed VZnet Netzwerke in 2009 and then VZ
Netzwerke this year.
Competing With Facebook
“They will always be more successful from a product point
of view and national or regional sites will always have a hard
time to compete,” Marc Samwer said in an interview. In 2011,
the Samwer brothers sold their Facebook stake to focus on early-
Alexandra Kuehte, a VZ Netzwerke spokeswoman, declined to
comment on a sale or IPO of the site. VZ Netzwerke aims to lure
users with distinctive platforms for students to focus on
specific interests. The approach of rivals to “offer everything
to everyone” won’t be successful in the long term, she said in
an e-mail, adding that management is working on strategic
positioning of the site.
One Billion Users
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said last year
that the Palo Alto, California-based site is aiming for 1
billion users globally in the next few years, with Russia among
the markets Facebook must conquer. The business is valued at
about $68 billion, according to SharesPost Inc., an exchange for
shares of private businesses.
VZ Netzwerke and other local sites have been described as
copycats, modeling themselves on Facebook in style and
functionality, or adopting popular aspects of Facebook to
compete. VZ Netzwerke, then known as StudiVZ, using a red color
design instead of Facebook’s trademark blue, bore such
similarity that Facebook claimed Berlin-based VZ Netzwerke had
illegally obtained its source code.
“StudiVZ was a straight copy of Facebook but in red,”
said Nate Elliott, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc.
Facebook filed a lawsuit against StudiVZ in 2008 in
California and Germany for infringing the site’s design and
features. StudiVZ denied the claims and the German court
rejected Facebook’s suit. The California case was settled with
StudiVZ paying an undisclosed sum to Facebook and allowing the
German site to continue operations.
Vkontakte, or “in contact,” the biggest social media site
in Russia, has a blue banner and a heart button, similar to
Facebook’s “Like” button. The site resembles Facebook’s 2008
design, said Mike Shaw, director of marketing solutions at
researcher ComScore in London.
“It is exactly set up like a Facebook wannabe,” said
Shaw, who predicts Facebook will overtake Poland’s Nasza-Klasa
in user numbers within a month or two. “Once these sites have
accepted they’re just rip-off merchants of Facebook, it becomes
quite straightforward to watch what’s going on on Facebook and
get your internal developer to do exactly the same.”
Hyves offers a “like” function equivalent called
Facebook is the third social media site in Russia, with 9.3
million regular users compared with Vkontakte’s 34.3 million and
27 million users of Odnoklassniki, which means “classmates.”
Facebook grew 67 percent in Russia since September 2010, while
Vkontakte and Odnoklassniki grew 13 percent and 44 percent
respectively, according to ComScore.
Vladislav Tsyplukhin, a Vkontakte spokesman, said the
Russian site remains “superior in terms of agility, technology
“It does not matter who made the first chair, it is
important which one is the good chair,” he said.
Networks in markets such as Russia are still able to fend
off Facebook because the local population has fewer
international contacts, said Gartner Inc. analyst Jeffrey Mann.
“In markets such as Russia there are plenty of people who
really just communicate with other Russians,” he said.
Facebook is outgrowing local sites because of innovation
and global popularity, Elliott said. Zuckerberg has stayed ahead
with the site’s application ecosystem, incorporating games such
as FarmVille and CityVille from Zynga Inc., and its recent
unveiling of the Timeline, a new version of Profile pages.
In September, Zuckerberg unveiled new ways for members to
use the social network to share music, movies, TV shows, news
and activities such as cooking and exercising.
Some sites such as Hyves are now trying to escape into a
niche market by not setting a minimum age. Facebook only accepts
people who are 13 years or older. Business network LinkedIn
Corp. and social media dating site Badoo have benefited from an
alternative focus to Facebook, growing 24 percent and 67 percent
respectively in Europe since September 2010, according to
For the pure copycats, any resistance will be futile as the
momentum is with Facebook, ComScore’s Shaw predicts.
“In a year’s time there won’t be a single European
country, including Russia, where Facebook is not leading,” he
To contact the reporter on this story:
Katie Linsell in London at
To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Kenneth Wong at
Mark Zuckerberg returned to Harvard officially for the first time Monday, winning a warm welcome from the university where he created Facebook and embarked on a well-chronicled meteoric ascent.
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In Pictures: Life before Facebook
It was clear Zuckerberg was no longer the dropout who left the iconic Ivy League institution, even if he still dresses in the classic campus uniform of T-shirt, jeans and sneakers.
If he weren’t so famous, the billionaire and Silicon Valley entrepreneur portrayed as the flawed protagonist of the Oscar-nominated “The Social Network” could have passed for any one of the hundreds of computer science students who came to hear him speak.
RECOMMEND: Four things the Social Network movie got wrong
“It didn’t seem it was that different than talking to other Harvard students,” said Kyle Solan, 19, a computer science major afterward. “He seemed very down to earth.”
Just a few blocks from where he started the world’s largest social network, Zuckerberg took part in a rare question-and-answer for students, who snapped up tickets to the event with the same frenzy reserved for favorite bands.
“We weren’t originally planning this as a business or anything,” Zuckerberg said sheepishly of the phenomenon that Facebook would become. “If I had a chance to do it again I would have gone to classes.”
Zuckerberg’s rock-star reception marked a sea change from when the entrepreneur famously landed himself in hot water for creating Facemash, a website that allowed users to rank their fellow students’ attractiveness and an incident immortalized in the film.
Speaking at his usual machine gun clip, Zuckerberg appeared every bit as driven as the character Aaron Sorkin imagined for “The Social Network”. But his bluntness and occasional humor in response to questions ultimately won the crowd over.
CODING THE CLASSICS
More comfortable with coding than the classics, Zuckerberg playfully acknowledged a lackluster academic career. Indeed, he said he once aspired to be a classics major, describing how he passed a course on ancient Rome while working on Facebook by building an Internet site for students to share notes.
“About halfway through the semester I stopped going to class,” he said to laughter from the audience.
One day he sent around an email to other students saying: “Hey, I built a study tool for everyone. And everyone filled out all the answers of all the significance of each of the pieces of art work, and made it a lot easier to study and I passed!”
Zuckerberg‘s return was labeled his first official on-campus appearance since leaving in 2004, though he has been back informally. His creation Facebook has been a huge presence on campus since, to the consternation of its professors.
At least one Harvard professor, British historian Niall Ferguson, has warned students he will fail anyone he finds using the site during his class.
While Zuckerberg appeared for the most part at ease, he still lacked the polish of a seasoned executive at public appearances. Asked what books inspired him, he faltered and admitted he was “stumped” by the question. When another student asked what global problems worried him, he responded only by detailing different features on Facebook.
The Facebook founder conceded he had a lot to learn.
“You have to be willing to make a lot of mistakes,” he said. “The story of Facebook, we made so many mistakes and continue to, every kind of mistake. I mean I knew nothing when I was getting started. I still know so little. I mean I am so young running a company of this scale.”
“People share so much information, put so much stuff into Facebook that how their data is treated is super important and we’re constantly working on more stuff to make that more transparent,” he said.
Zuckerberg also boldly predicted that the amount of content that people share on Facebook would double annually for years to come.
“If you project forward 10 years, each person will share about 1,000 times more things per day than they are now – 2 to the 10th is 1024,” he said.
(Editing by Peter Lauria, Edwin Chan and Derek Caney)
RECOMMEND: Four things the Social Network movie got wrong
Computerworld - After Facebook hit a wall and lost 6 million U.S. users last May, the social network has been slowly coming back.
In the past five months, Facebook has gained about 6,581,000 active U.S. users, according to data from Facebook’s advertising tool and compiled by Computerworld, bringing the social network’s U.S. user base back to just ahead of where it was before the decline.
At the start of May, Facebook had 155,200,000 users in the U.S. A month later, the number had plummeted to about 149,400,000.
Since then, the Facebook user count has risen to 155,981,460.
Ironically, Facebook’s rebound began as Google entered the social networking business with Google+.
“They have a saying in the stock market — ‘Nothing grows to the sky’. This applies to Facebook, and other social networks too,” said Dan Olds, an analyst at Gabriel Consulting Group.
“There’s a limit on the number of individuals and businesses who are going to use Facebook in a significant way. At some point, the growth rate will be limited by economic and population growth. I don’t think we’re at that point yet, or anywhere near it. There’s plenty of room to grow,” Olds added.
Olds did note Facebook’s massive user base makes it difficult to sustain past growth rates of 15 million or 20 million new worldwide users a month.
“If Facebook truly has 800 million active users, they’re going to find it hard to grow the base significantly,” he added. “To put it in perspective, to hit a 10% growth rate, Facebook would have to grab enough new users to equal the populations of California, Texas and New York. “
Brad Shimmin, an analyst with CurrentAnalysis, describes Facebook’s rebound simply as the end of a temporary slump.
“The earlier downward trend, for example, could have been driven by a combination of factors, such as oversaturation in the U.S. market, where most of its growth had come from to that point,” said Shimmin. “It also could have been a tipping point in negative opinion built from numerous past privacy blunders, the introduction of competitive alternative solutions, as well as many other such factors.”
Olds noted that with a reported 800 million users, the temporary loss of 6 million in one region represents only a small percentage of the total user base.
Facebook’s U.S. user numbers started to grow again in June, which is the month that Google launched its rival, well-funded social networking site, Google+.
“Google+ doesn’t seem to be putting much of a dent in Facebook at this point,” said Olds.
“This doesn’t mean that [Google] won’t or can’t, but it does mean Google is losing precious time in its race to get some mindshare with social network users. While Google has the resources to do about anything it wants, the one thing they can’t do is turn back the clock to a time before Facebook was the dominant player in social networks,” he added.
Shimmin said it’s too early to tell how the new social network will fare.
“From my perspective, Google+ is still undergoing the typical peak-and-valley associated with new offerings,” Shimmin said. “I don’t think we’ll be able to assess the health of this service until it has further matured, entering the enterprise marketplace, for example.”
Sharon Machlis and Ken Gagne of Computerworld compiled the data on which this report is based.
Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, or subscribe to Sharon’s RSS feed . Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more about Web 2.0 and Web Apps in Computerworld’s Web 2.0 and Web Apps Topic Center.
STAMFORD, Conn., Nov. 8, 2011 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ –
Purdue Pharma L.P. provides another tool to fight pharmacy crime through Twitter.com/RxPATROL. Pharmacy staff, law enforcement officials and loss prevention personnel can now follow updates about pharmacy robberies, burglaries and potential threats in their area and nationwide through Twitter. The tweets provide safety and security tips for pharmacy staff that may help them better protect customers and their businesses. Followers also receive notices for reward offers that are funded through Purdue’s partnership with CrimeStoppers and other local anti-crime organizations.
The RxPATROL Program tracks and analyzes reports of pharmacy crime throughout the United States and posts important crime related information on its web site:
www.rxpatrol.org . The program also issues alerts and updates via email to registered users in the pharmacy and law enforcement communities. However, since many pharmacists do not have Internet access during work hours, but do have access to cell phones, RxPATROL® is now using Twitter to instantly deliver pharmacy crime updates to followers via their cell phones.
“Pharmacy crime is a problem in many communities,” said RxPATROL Program Analyst, Captain Richard Conklin. “RxPATROL is using new communication vehicles to help pharmacy staff and law enforcement fight pharmacy crime.”
Conklin monitors daily pharmacy crime reports from police departments across the United States and posts important crime related information. RxPATROL Twitter can provide followers with timely pharmacy crime information, giving them access to information that is often not reported by the media.
The tweets provide specific information on robberies and burglaries, including the exact location of the incident, description of the suspect and any pertinent information that could lead to the capture of a suspect. All information is verified with local law enforcement before it is released. All tweets direct followers to the RxPATROL database for additional information, including pictures and video of suspects.
Purdue Pharma L.P. developed RxPATROL (Rx Pattern Analysis Tracking Robberies Other Losses) in 2003 as a collaborative effort between industry, pharmacists and law enforcement to collect, collate, analyze and disseminate information on pharmacy theft. In 2005, Purdue partnered with Crime Stoppers and affiliated local anti-crime programs throughout the country to offer rewards for information that can lead to the arrest of pharmacy robbery suspects.
Purdue Pharma L.P. and its associated U.S. companies are privately-held pharmaceutical companies known for pioneering research on persistent pain. Headquartered in Stamford, CT, Purdue is engaged in the research, development, production, and distribution of both prescription and over-the-counter medicines and hospital products. Additional information about Purdue can be found at
www.rxpatrol.org for more information.
SOURCE Purdue Pharma L.P.
Copyright (C) 2011 PR Newswire. All rights reserved
Twitter has long inspired its millions of users to braindump their banal thoughts into the digital ether, but now it has inspired something with a little more permanence.
Joining Harper Seven Beckham in The League Of Extraordinarily Named Footballer Offspring is Trendy Zakuani, named by Peterborough defender Gabriel Zakuani for his love of the popular social networking site. The Sun reports:
“People have asked if his name is because of ‘trending topics’ on Twitter. Maybe it was in the back of my mind.”
Gabriel said the name also refers to the baby’s mum Shanice Petrie’s job in fashion. He said: “The official reason was she wanted something to reflect that. But it was me who came up with Trendy.”
Tweeting from his @Gabs50Zakuani account, Zakuani has spent today bantering with his followers about his newborn, perhaps in an effort to get Trendy trending. Unfortunately, Trendy is not trending. In fact, despite being named for a function that displays mass popularity, it’s believed that Trendy is currently the only person in the world with the name.
While Trendy may be destined to a life of spelling out his name to disbelieving call center operators, things could be worse: dad might have chosen to call him Hashtag or Twitpic.
FYI: @Dirtytackle is on Twitter. It might make you laugh, it might inspire you to give your kid a dumb name…
The new version of the Firefox Web browser, Firefox 8 for Windows, Mac and Linux, has officially gone live. The update, which actually became available a couple of days ago via Mozilla’s FTP servers, introduces several new features, including a built-in Twitter search option, better management of add-ons and tabs, plus the usual performance and stability fixes.
Mozilla has also updated Firefox for Android, which offers password management and support for saving bookmarks to the device’s homescreen.
The newly added Twitter search functionality is probably the most immediately useful feature of the updated browser, as it lets you search for topics, @usernames and #hashtags directly from Firefox’s combined search/address bar. At launch, Twitter search is available in the English, Portuguese, Slovenian and Japanese versions of Firefox, with plans to roll out to others languages in future releases.
Other new settings include the ability to load tabs on demand (via the Menu – Options/Preferences, General Tab), a feature that makes it faster to restore windows with many tabs, and improved add-on management. Previously, third-party developers could install add-ons into your browser without your permission, which is now (thankfully!), no longer the case. Firefox 8 will disable add-ons installed by third-parties by default, and you have to pick the ones you want to keep.
Under the hood, Firefox has added support for Cross-Origin Resource Sharing (CORS), which allows developers to load WebGL textures more securely. (WebGL is a Web standard that allows sites to display hardware-accelerated 3D graphics without third-party software). The browser continues to support HTML5 markup as well, and Mozilla has listed a number of changes that will affect Web developers here.
On the Android platform, Mozilla is introducing a new “Master Password” feature that allows users to save all their usernames and passwords privately within the app, and says those will remain private even if your phone is lost or stolen. A second Android-only feature involves being able to now save bookmarks to the mobile device’s homescreen for quick access.
Overall, Firefox 8 isn’t a major update for the browser, nor is it introducing any features that seem compelling enough to convince a happy Chrome user to switch back. However, the release is a notable given Mozilla’s earlier promise to ship its technology to users in smaller, more frequent bundles. On its roadmap, Mozilla said it planned to ship Firefox 4, 5, 6 and 7 this calendar year. Here it is October, and Mozilla has already shipped Firefox 8.0. Nice word on the speedy progress, guys.
If there’s an app that qualifies as the Holy Grail of iPad apps, then this is it. Facebook was the one app that iPad users wanted and didn’t get – till just recently. The official version isn’t a whole lot different from the one that tech journos found hidden in the iPhone app code last June. Rumours of a product delay because of iOS 5 integration – which didn’t happen – notwithstanding, the app is finally here and so are we with our review.
At the core, Facebook for iPad offers very similar functionality to its sister iPhone and Android apps, but what separates it from its small screen siblings is that the user-interface is optimized for the iPad 9.7-Inch IPS display.
At the heart of the user interface Facebook has applied elements reminiscent of the iPad Twitter application. Just like Twitter on the iPad, we get a homescreen pane of the left hand side of the display, which displays options such as News Feed, Messages, Nearby, Events, Friends, Groups, Apps and Account settings. This whole pane can be hidden once we swipe the chosen option towards the pane which would then overlay it, hence hiding it. However, with equal ease, we can get it to return to its normal view with a swipe towards the right hand side.
It’s quite evident Facebook decided to use swiping gestures to give the interface a cleaner and simplistic feel.
On the top header we get the standard Notifications, Messages and Friend Request drop down menus alongside one button which hides the left menu pane, a secondary option for many who would rather not use the swiping gestures. On the top right corner of the header we noticed an option specific button: for instance, in the News Feed we were offered the All Stories option, while in Messages it gave us options for writing new messages or marking old messages as spam, unread or archiving them. While all these are expected standard Facebook features, presentation is key and Facebook for iPad nails it.
Indeed, the interface is sublimely intuitive and reminds us of the website itself. With this, Facebook has ensured that its users are already familiar with the app, because it’s so much like the website.
Yes, Facebook has still not managed to transition its Timeline interface to the app, but that is something, which Facebook can achieve via an update. While this disappointed us as we were early adopters of Facebook’s Timeline interface, there are many people yet to make the jump and we think Facebook will wait till most of its user base shifts to Timeline before they update the app with it.
Previously, iPad users resorted to using third party Facebook chat apps or the iPhone app for Facebook chat as the java script for Facebook chat was not available on the mobile Safari on the iPad. Facebook has expectedly added chat to the iPad which is not too dissimilar from the iPhone functionality.
With Photo Galleries, all we need to do is swipe through images and the app offers buttons on the top right corner for us to comment on or like the images. All this is very simple, perhaps simpler than browsing the website itself, and certainly way simpler than the mobile apps which are limited by screen real estate.
It was in the works for more than a year, and in spite of Mark Zuckerberg calling the iPad non-mobile device when it came out in January 2010, we have an app dedicated to the device. That fact in itself says volumes about the worthiness of this app. It brings no innovative functionality to the table, not even Facebook’s game-changing Timeline interface, but to put it simply it is the simplest way to access the social networking giant, perhaps even the best way to do so, especially if the iPad is your primary device.
Wow factor: 4
Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) fulfilled a glaring hole in its
young social network by rolling out brand pages to help companies, celebrities
and others tout themselves on Google+.
Google+ Pages, which follow the Facebook Pages scheme
that helped so many brands skyrocket to stardom on the world’s largest social
network, launched Nov. 7. Pepsi, Toyota, Macy’s and the Muppets are some of the
20 companies or brands who have signed on to launch special business-oriented
Web pages vetted by Google.
Google+ launched June 28 to limited field testing for
individuals only. Several brands, such as the Muppets, tried to set up Web
pages for the new network, but Google shut them down because it didn’t have
mechanisms in place to verify brands were what they claimed to be.
Even after Google rolled out to public beta testing,
Google+ had no brand capabilities. That is a big gap at a time when businesses
are using Facebook, Twitter and other social media services to reach new and
existing customers and lure them via deals.
Going forward, users can find brand pages they like –
they will be designated by this square logo next to their brand
profile name, and elect to follow those pages. Users will also be able to
easily share Google+ Pages they like with those who follow them.
“This means we can now hang out live with the local
bike shop, or discuss our wardrobe with a favorite clothing line, or follow a
band on tour,” said Google+ Senior Vice President of
Engineering Vic Gundotra in a blog post.
“Google+ pages give life to
everything we find in the real world. And by adding them to circles, we can
create lasting bonds with the pages (and people) that matter most. For
businesses and brands, Google+ pages help you connect with the customers and
fans who love you.”
Gundotra, who alluded to the imminence of brand
pages at the Web 2.0 Summit Oct. 19, also introduced Direct Connect from Google
search, a tool that will let users search for a brand’s Google + profile by
typing in an entry such as “+Pepsi” in the Google search box. Google
will whisk those users directly to the brand’s profile page, where the user can
add the brand to their Google+ crowd.
Gundotra cautioned that Direct Connect only works for a
limited number of pages — +Google, +Pepsi, and +Toyota — but more are on the
way. Moreover, Google+ pages are now included in search results on Google.com.
Google, which has created brand pages for its Google Maps, Google Places,
Gmail, YouTube, Catalogs and other products, includes brand pages for the following:
- All American Rejects
- Anderson Cooper 360
- Angry Birds
- Barcelona Football Club
- Dallas Cowboys
- Good Morning America
- The Muppets*
- Phoenix Suns
- Save the Children
- Special Report with Bret Baier
- X Games
- Zen Bikes
Finally, Google is making it easier for brands to get
their pages up and running here.
November 08, 2011, 12:25 AM EST
By Tom Moroney
Nov. 8 (Bloomberg) — Getting into Harvard is rewarding; walking away can be even better.
Take Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook Inc., Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates, folk singer Pete Seeger, actor Matt Damon and more.
Overachievers all, by dropping out they put themselves in a group that’s proven to be twice as selective as the incoming freshman class, according to school statistics. Harvard College accepted 6.2 percent of almost 35,000 applicants for the 2011- 2012 academic year. Its current graduation rate of 97 percent means just 3 percent leave before they’re done.
So when dropouts make it big — and many do — their Cambridge, Massachusetts, homecoming can be an event, like Zuckerberg’s was yesterday. The university called it his first official return since he left in 2004. No fewer than 200 onlookers, 50 reporters and 20 cameras crowded into a corner of Harvard Yard at dusk to witness the reunion of entrepreneur and ivy.
“This is a great time to come,” said Zuckerberg, 27, who was on a recruiting mission, meeting shortly after his brief public appearance with 200 students drawn by lottery in a session closed to the press. “There’s a lot of really smart people here, and a lot of them are making decisions on where they’re going to work in the next couple of weeks.”
Zuckerberg, sporting his trademark hoodie and jeans, also visited the Massachusetts Institute of Technology yesterday and is scheduled for a similar session today at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University. Competition remains strong with Google Inc., Yahoo! Inc. and other Silicon Valley employers for the best young brains around.
‘Balls of Clay’
Eighteen-year old Harvard freshman Kevin Schmid was so thrilled to be selected for the closed session that he was visibly shaking.
“I’m just so excited, I’m antsy,” he said.
By welcoming Zuckerberg, what Harvard is also “unintentionally doing is subtly embracing the idea that the Harvard student doesn’t need Harvard,” said Steve Grossman, 28, an information technology service-desk analyst at Northeastern University in Boston. Grossman attended Harvard and he and Zuckerberg are former fraternity brothers at Alpha Epsilon Pi.
The university says its graduation rate is “among the very highest” in the U.S. and asserts that “everyone admitted” can complete all requirements, according to its website. The national college graduation rate is 63.2 percent, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
“Harvard is incentivized to perpetuate the idea that Harvard takes these potentials — balls of clay — and molds them into the best and brightest,” said Grossman.
Valley Versus Boston
Whether Harvard creates stars or simply finds them was addressed indirectly by Gates, who dropped out and went on to co-found the world’s biggest software company. Gates, who collected an honorary law degree in 2007, said in a speech that he “was transformed by my years at Harvard.”
Zuckerberg spoke about his Harvard days as recently as Oct. 29, when he told a Stanford University audience, “If I were starting now, I would have stayed in Boston.” Silicon Valley “is a little short-term focused, and that bothers me,” TechCrunch.com reported, citing the Facebook founder.
Zuckerberg started the social network in his Harvard dorm in 2004, the same year he dropped out. Now his company, based in Palo Alto, California, employs about 3,000 people and has a market value of about $68.3 billion, according to SharesPost Inc., an exchange for private shares. With an estimated net worth of $17.5 billion, Zuckerberg is listed as the 14th-richest American by Forbes magazine. In other Forbes 2011 rankings, he is the ninth most powerful person on the planet and the second- youngest billionaire.
Zuckerberg and Gates weren’t the first Harvard undergrads to catch the technology bug. Edwin Land, co-founder of Polaroid Corp., entered the college in 1926 and stayed for a year before leaving for New York and research that would lead to his instant-photo process, according to the National Academy of Sciences website.
The banjo-picking Seeger left after two years and wrote in his alumni yearbook that he “had been away from certain things that Harvard wouldn’t have been able to teach me,” according to the Crimson, the school’s daily student newspaper.
Damon, a member of the class of 1992, never finished, according to John Longbrake, a Harvard spokesman. Damon won a screenwriting Oscar for “Good Will Hunting,” in which the character he plays tells a Harvard student, “You drop $150,000 on an education that you could have gotten for $1.50 on late charges at the public library.”
F. Lee Bailey, Boston attorney and part of O.J. Simpson’s “Dream Team” defense, won a Harvard scholarship and left in 1952 to join the U.S. Marine Corps as a fighter pilot, according to West’s Encyclopedia of American Law.
Time magazine’s Top 10 College Dropouts list last year included three Harvardians, the most for any school: Zuckerberg, Gates and architect R. Buckminster Fuller.
Henry David Thoreau, iconic dropout for his solitary Walden Pond years, left Harvard in his junior year because of illness, returning to graduate in 1837, according to the Thoreau Society website.
Still, Thoreau couldn’t resist a jab at diplomas, once made of sheepskin, in a letter to friend Ralph Waldo Emerson 10 years later.
“Let every sheep keep but his own skin,” he wrote.
–Editors: Lisa Wolfson, Jillian Ward
To contact the reporter on this story: Tom Moroney in Boston at email@example.com.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tom Giles at Tgiles5@bloomberg.net; Jonathan Kaufman at firstname.lastname@example.org
November 8, 2011 04:00 AM
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Tuesday, November 8, 2011