Famous for co-founding Facebook from his dorm room, it’s no secret that Mark Zuckerberg is one of the world’s youngest billionaires. The internet entrepreneur ranked 7th in the Forbes’ richest people list, but how did he make his billions?
Mark Zuckerberg amassed his estimated 82.2 billion net worth through the enormous success of social networking site Facebook, which he launched in 2004. As Facebook’s CEO, Zuckerberg is the company’s lowest paid employee, with a base salary of just $1 and his wealth is largely tied to his Facebook stock.
Read on to learn more about how Mark Zuckerberg made his money.
College Dropout to Business Mogul
Fascinated with computers from an early age, Zuckerberg was creating computer games while other kids were playing them. He received private computer programming tuition, alongside taking graduate classes at Mercy College, and was quickly labelled a ‘prodigy’ by his tutors.
He enrolled at Harvard in 2002, but dropped out of college after his sophomore year to invest his full attention in his new site, The Facebook.
Life as a college dropout suited Zuckerberg just fine. After moving the company to Palo Alto, California the investments started to roll in, with $500,000 from Peter Thiel in 2004, and a pivotal $12.7 million investment into the enterprise from venture capital firm Accel, in 2005.
Clearly Facebook was hot news and Zuckerberg did his first TV interview with CNBC about the site in 2004. Facebook’s user base exploded soon after, from 100,000 users at time of interview to 1 million at the end of 2004.
Some tough decisions followed when Zuckerberg started to receive offers on the site from companies such as Yahoo! and MTV Networks, along with a staggering $15 billion offer from Microsoft in 2007. Obviously, Zuckerberg turned them all down and is now the wildly wealthy owner of over 400 million shares of Facebook.
Oh, and in 2017 he finally got his degree.
Road Bumps and Riches
Zuckerberg’s rise to fame and fortune hasn’t been without its road bumps. He met his first big legal hurdle in 2006 when the creators of Harvard Connection, a site Zuckerberg worked on briefly during college, accused him of stealing their idea.
Reaching the top is never easy and some of the hard choices Zuckerberg made to get there were portrayed in biographical film ‘The Social Network’, released in 2010. Zuckerberg was reportedly unhappy with the representation of events and when pressed for comment he insisted, ‘I know the real story’.
Zuckerberg had another difficult year in 2016, coming under fire for the spread of fake news on his site, and then again in 2018 when the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica Data breach occurred.
Though he’s had his fair share of negative PR, when you’re as wealthy as Zuckerberg, fluctuations in your wealth don’t do much to dent your fortune.
What to do with a Growing Fortune?
The simple answer to how the CEO continues to make his money is shares – and a lot of them. He’s the largest shareholder of Facebook by far, holding a market value of around $82.2 billion and his wealth increases with the Facebook share price.
Faced with the question of what to do with his riches, Zuckerberg and his wife released a lengthy statement on Facebook (naturally) in 2015, outlining their pledge to give 99% of their Facebook shares to the philanthropic Chan Zuckerberg Initiative over their lifetimes.
You can watch the couple talk about their hopes for what the Initiative will achieve in the below YouTube video.