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The short, phenomenal history of Facebook is laid out in this fine new tome.

Book Review: The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story Of The Company That Is Connecting The World by David Kirkpatrick

Facebook’s growth since its inception in 2004 has been nothing short of phenomenal. With a membership hovering at around a half a billion people today, the ubiquitous site is an Internet success story like no other. In The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story Of The Company That Is Connecting The World, author David Kirkpatrick tells the remarkable tale of this industry colossus, and of the man behind it all, Mark Zuckerberg.

As it was originally known, Thefacebook.com launched on February 4, 2004, out of Zuckerberg’s Harvard dorm room. The site was incredibly exclusive, you had to have an email ending in Harvard.edu to join. It became so popular that Zuckerberg and his “staff” (his roommates) decided to offer it to other Ivy League schools shortly afterwards.

Thus began the snowball momentum that continues to drive Facebook forward to this day. Soon the doors were opened to all U.S. colleges, then high schools, and finally to everybody else. Zuckerberg and company moved out to Silicon Valley “just for the summer” after their first year at Harvard. They never went back.

Kirkpatrick was able to speak with the early players in the story fairly extensively, including Zuckerberg himself. The account of these nineteen-year-old kids building up a company valued at $15 billion over the course of just a few years is stunning. The growth pains that accompany such rapid success are also discussed, and Zuckerberg’s talent for getting advice from older dot-com veterans has helped Facebook survive some potentially fatal experiences.

The first two-thirds of The Facebook Effect trace the business’ growth from 2004 to 2010. It makes for fascinating reading. The last hundred pages or so are devoted to chapters such as “Facebook And The World,” “The Evolution Of Facebook,” and “The Future.” These speculative essays were probably necessary to balance out the book, but they are the least interesting portions of The Facebook Effect.

David Kirkpatrick is a former senior editor at Fortune magazine, and his writing style is a winning combination of business facts mixed with the quirky personalities of the key players. The Facebook Effect is informative and fun, a rare combination in the world of business books. For up to the minute information on the biggest social networking site the world has ever known, it is recommended.

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