50% of Harvard to Every Corner of the World: The Story of Facebook

“What’s on your mind?” More than The Beatles, Michael Jackson, and Apple iPhone, this single question has made a household name for itself. Spanning over 2.85 billion active users monthly, and growing, Facebook is now the third most popular site, only next to Google and YouTube.


Originally dubbed “Facemash”, Mark Zuckerberg created the first version of Facebook in the year 2003, at Harvard University. Back then, it was a service used to rate the attractiveness of fellow students. Zuckerberg and his friends were put into six months of academic probation, for hacking the university’s computer system and fetching the images of students. However, Facemash received over 22,000 views in the first four hours of its introduction.


After his probation was completed, Zuckerberg went on to create “The Facebook.” The same service we are used to today, under a slightly different name, was formally launched in 2004. Limited to just Harvard students at first, it expanded the services to students from other universities; eventually dropped the ‘the’ from the name and officially became Facebook. The company was now ready to move beyond its student base, and it did just that. In September 2006, the platform became open to everyone and had gone fully global. And this was just the beginning.


Crossing a lot of milestones and introducing things like Facebook Marketplace, Facebook Chat (now Messenger), and even including games on the platform, Facebook was sitting at a value of $104 billion, when in 2012, it casually decided to have a major acquisition: Instagram. A photo and video-sharing social networking platform that was launched in 2010, which allowed users to upload, edit, and tag photos and videos, was acquired for $1 billion.

When Facebook bought Instagram, it chose to create and grow the Instagram app separately from Facebook’s main platform; Instagram remains a separate platform to this day.



The amount paid by Facebook for Instagram, which had no income at the time, demonstrated Facebook’s willingness to pay a premium for emerging firms. And that leads this journey, to another milestone, to another acquisition: WhatsApp.

Acquiring it at a whopping $14 billion in the year 2014, WhatsApp, which enabled users to exchange messages, photos, videos, documents and make calls to other users regardless of location for free, was really a smart move on Facebook’s end.


With countless acquisitions following these and continuous updates in their services; Despite starting so small, with a lot of legal issues along the way, Facebook is truly a story of a startup that took over the world.  What was first home to only 50% of Harvard students, is now present in every corner of the world.


Written by – Saayansh Ahuja 

( Member of Thrust : E-cell )

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