Hey Read This… The Worst Thing is Zuckerberg’s Socks and Sandals

Posted on September 26, 2011

Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich

I used to hate Mark Zuckerberg. He just got lucky and stumbled upon Facebook. Or so I thought, until I started hearing the interviews about this book with Mezrich. Then I found out about how he had been writing software at a graduate level since he was in Middle School. And about how he created that program that helped you find music based off of your preferences. But most importantly, Mezrich reminded me that Zuckerberg turned down an offer to sell Facebook for $1 billion to Microsoft. Not selling out might be the fastest way to my heart.

For those of you that saw “The Social Network”, “Accidental Billionaires” will seem very familiar. In its essence, it’s the same thing. Here is what’s different: It’s much more sympathetic to the Winklevoss twins. Sean Parker is way nerdy in real life. And Eduardo makes it into the Phoenix club. Starting in 2004 it follows the rise of Facebook from the dorm rooms of Harvard to it’s new offices in Palo Alto.

As it is in most of these stories, the story is bigger than that. What the book alleges, is that these guys (Eduardo and Zuckerberg) were simply trying to make a website that would help them get laid. Things are busy at Harvard, and since computers were making everything else easier, it could certainly make hooking up more efficient.

Where the movie portrayed Zuckerberg as kind of the bad guy, ‘Billionaires’ paints him, in my opinion, a little more accurately as a mildly autistic genius obsessed both with the free flow of information and computers.

Part of the irony of this book is that Zuckerberg never gave an interview for it. And so he really doesn’t seem to be the focus. It is very much told from the perspective of Eduardo and the twins. A significant portion of the book is about their betrayal. I’m pretty sure Zuckerberg regrets not being able to tell his side. That having been said, he’s laughing all the way to the bank.

This book is a different type of non-fiction. Mezrich uses the interviews to paint extremely intimate portraits of the characters. At times he spends time postulating about what must have been going through everyone’s mind. On top of that, I feel like he did a great job capturing what it must have been like on the Harvard campus in 2004.

I can count the number of books that I have willingly allowed to disrupt my sleep schedule probably on my hand. I started “Accidental Billionaires” before I was going to go to sleep, thinking I’d read a chapter or so. Fast forward to 3 hours later when I find myself bleary eyed and exhausted while turning the final page. I’d seen the movie but Mezrich’s storytelling really is what drives this thing forward.

Like this book review? I’ve got a whole lot more. Here you go!

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