- Publisher: William Heinemann Ltd
- Format: Paperback | 272 pages
- Dimensions: 136mm x 214mm x 22mm | 294g
- Publication date: 30 July 2009
- Publication City/Country: London
- ISBN 10: 0434019550
- ISBN 13: 9780434019557
- Edition statement: Trade Paperback.
- Sales rank: 106,385
At Harvard, social acceptance and success with the opposite sex had to be applied for. In the absence of family money or innate charisma, misfit and maths prodigy Eduardo Saverin dreamed of joining one of Harvard's elite Final clubs. His best friend, painfully shy computer genius Mark Zuckerberg, turned instead to his natural talents, hacking into the university's computer system to create a rateable database of every female student on campus. Narrowly escaping expulsion after 80 per cent of Harvard's population voted in just two hours, crashing the entire computer system, Mark and Eduardo together refocused the site into something less controversial - 'The Facebook' - which spread like a wildfire across campuses around the country. Within months hundreds of thousands of college kids had signed up. Suddenly Eduardo and Mark were getting nods not just from the female population, but from venture capitalists too. It was then, amidst the dizzying levels of cash and the promise of unbelievable power, that the first cracks in their friendship started to appear, and what began as a simple argument spiralled into an out-and-out war. The great irony is that Facebook succeeded by bringing people together - but its very success tore two best friends apart.
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Ben Mezrich, a Harvard graduate, has published ten books, including the New York Times bestseller Bringing Down the House. He is a columnist for Boston Common and a contributor to Flush magazine. Ben lives in Boston with his wife, Tonya.
By Mark Thwaite 10 Aug 2009
It goes without saying that Facebook is an internet phenomenon. We'd had social networking sites before it, of course, but Facebook left all of the others in its wake, redefined the rules of the game, became totally mainstream, and made the young men who created it very, very, very rich indeed. Ben Mezrich's The Accidental Billionaires is the story of the two Ivy League geeks, maths prodigy Eduardo Saverin and "shy computer genius" Mark Zuckerberg, who invented what has gone on to become one of the world's favourite websites.
The guiding and central irony of Mezrich's book -- written in a competent, journalistic style, redolent of a Sunday Supplement article with plenty of rather grating "re-created dialogues" -- is that Facebook's huge success in bringing people together drove apart the two, socially-inadequate best friends who had set it up.
Mezrich has been thorough in interviewing many of the key players in the story -- including Saverin -- but Zuckerberg, the most compelling actor, kept his distance from the project and his absence is a defining presence in the book. Additionally, it isn't a particular interesting a story. Young computer nerds get lucky, get very rich, and fall out: it's hardly War and Peace! But, happily, The Accidental Billionaires is an easy read -- and important in as much as the internet is our history, and books such as this are the first drafts of a narrative that is changing all our lives right now.