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The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, a Tale of Sex, Money, Genius, and Betrayal

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The high-energy tale of how two socially awkward Ivy Leaguers, trying to increase their chances with the opposite sex, ended up creating Facebook.

Eduardo Saverin and Mark Zuckerberg were Harvard undergraduates and best friends–outsiders at a school filled with polished prep-school grads and long-time legacies. They shared both academic brilliance in math and a geeky awkwardness with women.

Eduardo figured their ticket to social acceptance–and sexual success–was getting invited to join one of the university’s Final Clubs, a constellation of elite societies that had groomed generations of the most powerful men in the world and ranked on top of the inflexible hierarchy at Harvard. Mark, with less of an interest in what the campus alpha males thought of him, happened to be a computer genius of the first order.

Which he used to find a more direct route to social one lonely night, Mark hacked into the university's computer system, creating a ratable database of all the female students on campus–and subsequently crashing the university's servers and nearly getting himself kicked out of school. In that moment, in his Harvard dorm room, the framework for Facebook was born.

What followed–a real-life adventure filled with slick venture capitalists, stunning women, and six-foot-five-inch identical-twin Olympic rowers–makes for one of the most entertaining and compelling books of the year. Before long, Eduardo’s and Mark’s different ideas about Facebook created in their relationship faint cracks, which soon spiraled into out-and-out warfare. The collegiate exuberance that marked their collaboration fell prey to the adult world of lawyers and money. The great irony is that while Facebook succeeded by bringing people together, its very success tore two best friends apart.

The Accidental Billionaires is a compulsively readable story of innocence lost–and of the unusual creation of a company that has revolutionized the way hundreds of millions of people relate to one another.

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 for Flush magazine. Ben lives in Boston with his wife, Tonya.

255 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2009

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About the author

Ben Mezrich

72 books1,214 followers
Ben Mezrich has created his own highly addictive genre of nonfiction, chronicling the amazing stories of young geniuses making tons of money on the edge of impossibility, ethics, and morality.

With his newest non-fiction book, Once Upon a Time in Russia, Mezrich tells his most incredible story yet: A true drama of obscene wealth, crime, rivalry, and betrayal from deep inside the world of billionaire Russian Oligarchs.

Mezrich has authored sixteen books, with a combined printing of over four million copies, including the wildly successful Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six M.I.T. Students Who Took Vegas for Millions, which spent sixty-three weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, and sold over 2 million copies in fifteen languages. His book, The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, a Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal – debuted at #4 on the New York Times list and spent 18 weeks in hardcover and paperback, as well as hit bestseller lists in over a dozen countries. The book was adapted into the movie The Social Network –written by Aaron Sorkin and directed by David Fincher – and was #1 at the box office for two weeks, won Golden Globes for best picture, best director, best adapted screenplay, best score, and was nominated for 8 Oscars, winning 3 including best Adapted Screenplay for Aaron Sorkin. Mezrich and Aaron Sorkin shared a prestigious Scripter Award for best adapted screenplay as well.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,677 reviews
Profile Image for Elaine.
220 reviews12 followers
February 28, 2011
Listening to audiobook, I could tell from the outset that it was going to be terrible. Normally, I'd have quit, but I decided to stick with it for the story. Soon I realized that I was listening to it for the entertainment value of its badness. The book, seemingly untouched by an editor's hand, is dense with stereotypes, cliches, hyperbole, adolescent fantasies (which seem to be the author's more than those of the main characters), mixed metaphors, inappropriate comparisons, and comical malapropisms. Just a few examples: A bar in an Italian restaurant is "sidled up to the kitchen." A dropped piece of furniture goes "caterwauling" down a flight of stairs. "Hot" waitresses (they're always "hot") in a crowded club are "PRANCING through the crowd carrying trays of cocktails." Ash from a bonfire comes "through the plate glass" of a window. Geeks never have girlfriends; the college elite are always big, blond jocks. The only attractive women are buxom blonds or Asians. A guy with a "baby face" is, in the next sentence, said to have thick black eyebrows and dark piercing eyes. The main character is "the most brilliant programmer on the planet." And in the end, the story of the creation and early years of Facebook was largely imagined, fictionalized, short on facts, often sketchy on chronology, not worth the effort, even for its badness.
P.S. Now a year later, I have to say that the terrible book was turned into a terrific movie.
May 6, 2015
When I read a book that has a great deal of biographical detail and where the subject refuses to co-operate and where there are too many phrases like, 'he must have thought', 'he could have surmised', 'maybe he felt', I think that even if the author is as well-respected as Mezrich, this is probably a load of balls.

Modern society, the media, cannot stand those who refuse to have a publicist, give interviews, employ a stylist and have a dozen employees referred to as 'my people'. It can't stand people who have done something that puts them in the public eye but they don't want the public attention. The media, journalists, papparazzi, editors all feel that they are entitled to make bucks off these people and need to have good sources of information and they hate those that just want to live a private life. So Zuckerberg always comes off worst.

It has become fashionable in the UK for randy footballers, thieving bankers and sundry assorted others we do not know of or cannot name, to seek superinjunctions at a cost of £150,000 to stop their misdeeds being published which might harm their families, show the public they are immoral criminals, or more likely in the case of all the footballer and actors, the bad publicity will harm the lucrative business of product endorsements. To me, they are fair game for the press. They can't get enough good publicity, every column inch is worth pounds and pence, so when the shit they do catches up with them, they should have to suck it up, like those who don't have a spare £150,000 for the lawyers.

But Zuckerberg is a private man, and his privacy should be respected and the envelope not pushed with what he might have thought or surmised, or whether he started Facebook because he was anti-social and bitter having been rejected by some girl or other. Authors like Mezrich rely on the fact that Zuckerberg probably wouldn't sue, so can continue to write this crap because he couldn't get an interview.

Other than that, the book was quite good for a business book, but without Zuckerberg's input and with the all-too-willing input of his enemies, it wasn't ever going to be the definitive book of Facebook.
Profile Image for Tamoghna Biswas.
269 reviews107 followers
November 20, 2022
"Certainly, he had no way of knowing, then or now, that the kid with the curly hair was one day going to take the entire concept of a social network and turn it on its head. That one day, the kid with the curly hair struggling through that prepunch party was going to change Eduardo's life more than any Final Club ever could."

You might have heard of this book at least once, when a quite good movie The Social Network was made from it in 2010. At least I wouldn't have known of this biography of Mark Zuckerberg anywhere else, and also wouldn't have bothered to pick up the book if the plot of the movie didn't seem so different from the story of most rags-to-riches.

To me, Zuckerberg always appears to be a quite contradiction to the personality portrayed in this book; in person (from his talks I'm aware of) he appears quite likeable,( well many women do have a big crush on him, and I think that's quite deserved ), and not so much of a nerd, or an A-hole as his friends pointed him out to be. So the book holds a very alternative shade of Zuckerberg's life (guessing it's true), which is really very intriguing. Also another remarkable aspect of the book is it played equal importance to all the characters, and also the not-with-a-happy-ending friendship of Eduardo and Mark. Too realistic to receive a hard blow, actually.

"Inevitably, indelibly true."

Notwithstanding, however, the book isn't at all well-written, the style being just average and incapable of holding my attention good many times. So, if you think of picking up the book, my suggestion: watch the movie first, then Andrew Garfield and Hesse Eisenberg will bring a lot more colour to the otherwise eventful-yet-dull novel.

"Mark wouldn't let anything, or anyone, stand in the way of Facebook."
Profile Image for Grace.
690 reviews1 follower
October 27, 2009
If I could find a way to delete my Facebook account and still remain in contact with my family and close friends, I'd do it after reading this book.

I'll start with the story itself. I call it a story because author Ben Mezrich admits that he fictionalized scenes based on eye witness accounts and made up others to fill in gaps. Mezrich was also unable to secure an interview with Mark Zuckerberg, the mastermind behind Facebook. How do you write the story of the founding of Facebook without the founder? The correct answer should be that you don't, but not if you are Ben Mezrich.

There was not a single likable character in the entire story. Mark Zuckerberg was portrayed as a narcissist hacker who used people until their usefulness was gone and then tossed them aside without a care. Interview or no interview, I think I believe this interpretation of Mark because it would explain why Facebook randomly changes for the worse without any notice or recourse to reverse the changes.

Mark's variety of business partners: Eduardo, the Winklevoss Twins (who placed sixth in crew at Beijing Olympics!), and Sean Parker had no redeeming qualities. It was all petty, "high school" antics in an Ivy League setting - freezing business accounts, telling the President of Harvard that someone stole your idea... It made me sick to my stomach to think that Harvard University (with the exception of Sean Parker - he was just a leech looking to latch on to the next big thing) is the sandbox in which the world's up and coming movers and shakers can whine, make calls to daddy, and use women for sex, preferably in a bathroom stall while your friend bangs a girl in the next stall over.

Oh and this book's portrayal of college women was disgusting. I went to college (granted, it wasn't an Ivy League college), but there was a lot more to it than getting laid. Women were compared to farm animals for entertainment or the prize to win, sleep with, and discard. The one serious relationship in the whole book ends in a dorm room blaze when Eduardo's girlfriend burns a present he gave her, all of his clothes, and sets her room on fire. She's referred to as crazy. Okay, maybe she earned the crazy, but treating women like objects isn't okay with me and I'm sure Harvard University isn't happy with the portrayal either.

And now for the last key part of this story - Harvard University. The home of the original Facebook and Alma Mater of author Ben Mezrich. After reading this book, I want to delete my facebook and I'm incredibly thankful I didn't go to Harvard University. I am certain that this is not the type of press Harvard is after. Mezrich speaks about Harvard like it is the only university in the United States of America. It is the only school with core courses for a well rounded education. Only Harvard has dorms that are cooler than other dorms or dorms that are way off in the middle of nowhere. I'm all about school spirit, but Ben Mezrich's portrayal of Harvard is incredibly elitist, yet incredibly insulting all at the same time. Here is what I learned about Harvard: it's not what you know, but who you know. Harvard is about getting laid and treating women like crap. Harvard is the pre-school of the Ivy League where kids can squabble, bicker, back stab, and commit other childish acts and still become the richest men in America. I really hope that there was a considerable decline in riders of the Fuck Truck after publication of this book.

This is my first time reading Ben Mezrich and I know I won't do it again. He takes too much creative license in non-fiction work. His writing style is incredibly immature. The Accidental Billionaires reads like a romance novel for high school computer science geeks. It's clunky, awkward, and uses sex in all the wrong places. It also made me wonder when the author last got laid...

I am thankful that this was a quick read so I can move on to something else, something with merit and substance.
Profile Image for Greg.
1,109 reviews1,844 followers
August 24, 2015
Audio Book Review Number 2.

I feel like my audio book choices are sort of bonuses to my reading list. They haven't exactly been books I would probably choose to read, but I have at least a slight curiosity about them. I still don’t love this format and I can’t see myself sitting down and listening to an audio book, or listening to one while commuting (although it could be a way to speed up my reading, I’d have to test to see if listening to a book at one and a half times the normal speed is faster or slower than my regular reading speed). And, I don’t see myself listening to a book I really want to enjoy, I still think there is something about words in front of me that are better for that than a sped up voice in headphones.

I’m also at the mercy of what a couple of different libraries have available to download to make my choices. I’m sure I could rig up some way to have a cd player burn audio books from the library on to my computer and then load them on to my phone so I could listen to them while running, but that seems like a lot of work—and having a limited choice for what books I can listen to makes picking them a little easier.

Which is how I came to read this book.

I probably could have just watched the movie. I’m sure it was faithful enough to the kind of sensationalist account of the starting of a website you may have heard of.

For having a story being told in my ear while I ran up and down the streets of Woodside it was entertaining enough. I don’t know how the book was laid out, but I kept wondering while reading this was how much of the book was true and how much of it was what Mezrich was dramatizing. At times it was clear when he’d write something like, “You can picture the scene going something like this….”, but it was difficult to tell what was conjecture and what was actually from the interviews with all the peripheral players.

And yes, the story is basically the story of the peripheral players because the most important voice in this whole story is missing. As the introduction and his reputation would suggest, Mark Zuckerberg declined to tell his side of the story. What results is probably a kind of slanted picture (although to be fair Mezrich doesn’t really demonize Zuckerberg and attempts to give what his possible side of the story is).

When I got to the end of the recording today and listened to the “Where are they now” (circa 2009) round up I kept thinking that this was all kind of petty and a little bit confusing. You’ve got Eduardo Saverin, Zuckerberg’s friend who originally incorporated The Facebook with him and who was running the financial side of the company. His real stake in the company was putting up a few thousand (is this right? ) dollars, and even after the restructuring that happened once Facebook dropped the The and brought on Peter Thiel as their first VC Saverin still had about 34% of the company’s ownership, which was over a million shares. Soon after, Saverin’s ownership was massively diluted with more shares being added to the company in order to secure more VC and Angel funding.

In hindsight that the book didn’t have it’s tough to feel too sorry for a guy who was kind of pushed out of the company, but was left with over forty million dollars worth of stock if you take the million plus shares and give it the initial price that Facebook stock sold for in 2012 (in reality he made off even better with whatever the settlement was from his legal battle with Zuckerberg—he was brought back in the company, he got more shares, blah blah blah, but I don’t feel like really researching this all out).

I guess hearing the story, and yes, knowing some things that might not have been known in 2009, I just didn’t feel that sorry for him. Where else would have you have turned a few thousand dollars into 40 million? Also, I never quite understood what his role in the company was. He seemed to always be looking out for advertisers, but the massive success monetarily of Facebook wouldn’t come from the traditional sort of advertising that it sounds like Saverin was pursuing on the East Coast. Their money would come from a different form of advertising similar to the model that Google was using down the road from where Zuckerberg and Facebook were holed up in California.

I got the feeling that I was supposed to be rooting for Saverin in the book, he was the wronged friend who had been there at the beginning and stuck through the company in it’s early days. I couldn’t quite get this feeling to work for me though. There really weren’t that many early days for Facebook, the explosion was just about as near instantaneous as possible. The part that the book kept coming back to was the money Saverin gave Zuckerberg, but I had a hard time believing that Zuckerberg wouldn’t have been able to come up with the initial money himself if he had his back against the wall.

The one thing that Saverin do, and which didn’t seem to be mentioned much later in the book, but which is super duper important—it was his contacts that probably got Facebook it’s initial burst of users in the Harvard Community. The finals club he was a part of was probably a large part of how so many people signed up so quickly. It’s difficult with the narrative given in this book to believe that Mark Zuckerberg could have gotten this initial user base on his own, since he appeared to have no social standing at all.

Once Sean Parker, of Napster fame, and Peter Thiel were on board I can’t wrap my head around what Saverin three thousand miles away was brining to the company to justify his third ownership in the massively growing company.

Onwards through other ‘wronged’ people. The twins, whose names I can’t remember, were a curious part of the story, but again I couldn’t feel too sorry for them. Mark flaked on helping them make their website, he might have been inspired by what they were doing, he might have just figured out somewhere after saying he’d help them that their site was too limited and not worth his time. If he had helped them launch the site would it have been the social networking site that everyone would be using today? Probably not, it probably would have been a more college aimed version of Friendster, if it ever even became anything outside of the Harvard community. They were probably actually lucky that they ran into Zuckerberg when they did and the settlement of 65 million was probably more than they would have ever gotten from being one of the many dead and forgotten attempts at being the next Myspace of the middle 2000’s.

the Sean Parker story was just didn’t make any sense. I felt like there was something missing in the story of his being ousted from Facebook. From the stories of the college / nerd-frat feel of the early days of Facebook I couldn’t quite wrap my head around why him getting busted at a house party would be enough to get him thrown out of Facebook. There are hints that Parker thought there was a conspiracy at play, but a large portion of this story seems to be missing. My guess is that live Saverin his usefulness in the company had been used up, and after being the connector for Facebook to Silicon Valley he didn’t have much else to bring to the table. I don’t know though, and yeah that sounds kind of cold.

The biggest problem with this story is that Zuckerberg doesn’t give his insight into what happened. I can understand why he wouldn’t be interested in giving his side for a book like this, but it is kind of a big part of the story that is just missing. Mezrich did what he could with what he had, and the story is interesting, but I don’t know if it’s something I would have really enjoyed reading. As something to keep my mind off of how boring running can be it was great, but if I wanted to see this story I’d probably go rent the movie version, I’m sure that in the two hours or whatever it would take the watch it the general gist of wronged privileged people would have been captured.
27 reviews3 followers
September 5, 2009
Why do people like Ben Mezrich? This story itself, about Facebook, was fascinating and kept me reading. The author, however, made me want to vomit. His writing style is AWFUL. He made it clear he knew nothing about the subject matter, by describing technological aspects of the story in ways that didn't make any sense (no, he doesn't need to be a website creator himself, but he has to develop enough basic vocabulary to write intelligently). Also, he wrote this book without being able to get an interview with Mark Zukerberg! I realize that isn't Mezrich's fault, but it definitely leaves a big gap in the book. Finally, at points in the story where Mezrich didn't know what happened, he just made crap up! He freely admits this, but in many places, I think it would've been better left unsaid. For example, in one case where Mark breaks into a residence hall to gain access to their student photo site, he describes an amorous couple in the background making out, in great detail. Obviously, since he didn't get an interview with Mark, he has no way of knowing whether this actually happened, so what is the point of concocting that? Assuming that people reading about the founding of Facebook are looking for a cheap romance novel?

But that said, the story of the founding of Facebook is interesting to anyone who regularly uses Facebook, and as a more general primer on how fortunes are made & missed in a "new economy" world.
608 reviews
October 24, 2010
First, let me note that I liked the film "The Social Network" written by Aaron Sorkin, directed by David Fincher: beautiful craftsmanship, excellent acting, terrific writing, good direction ... BUT I worried when I saw it. I knew that it was not a bio-pic in any way, shape, or form. I knew that it could not be taken as documentary in any way, shape, or form, and that Mark Zuckerberg had nothing to do with it. After viewing it, I felt it should carry a disclaimer clearly stating that it was SUGGESTED by the founding of Facebook because, no offense to anyone, not everyone is smart enough to know what I knew. Now, I have just read the book on which the film is "based," according to the film's credits and promotional materials, and I am totally aghast. The book is a piece of junk. (1.) Ben Mezrich cannot write. His grammar is atrocious (e.g., his repeated use of the construction "off of" instead of "from" got me blearly-eyed after awhile), his style is elementary to the point of simplistic, he has a terrible vocabulary and does not know how to find synonyms (e.g., "pudgy" as an adjective for various physical parts of Larry Summers's body is repeated several times in just a few pages). (2.) As far as I can see, he had exactly one real, on the record source, Eduardo Saverin. This makes my discomfort at the level of accuracy very strong indeed. He claims at one point to have "dozens of sources - some direct witnesses, some indirect," whatever that means, but apart from Saverin, "these sources have asked to remain anonymous." He also claims at another point that the book is based on "dozens of interviews, hundreds of sources (? what happened to the dozens?), and thousands of pages of documents, including records from several court proceedings." I'd say that if an author has "hundreds" of sources, he should be able to get more than one to go on the record. And I don't see how too many of the documents could have been court proceeding records since the lawsuit of the Winklevoss twins against Zuckerberg and Facebook was settled and sealed by the judge, and the records of the suits between Saverin and Zuckerberg have not been made public. Certainly, Mezrich could have read many emails, which couldn't have been too taxing. Let me allow him to speak for himself here, because this is so ludicrous that it defies paraphrase: "I re-created the scenes in the book based on the information I uncovered from documents and interviews, and my best judgment as to what version most closely fits the documentary record. Other scenes are written in a way that describes individual perceptions without endorsing them. . . . I do employ the technique of re-created dialogue. I have based this dialogue on the recollections of participants of the substance of conversations. Some of the conversations recounted in this book took place over long periods of time, in multiple locations, and thus some conversations and scenes were re-created and compressed. Rather than spread these conversations out, I sometimes set these scenes in likely settings." Aaaaahhhhh! As Daria's theme song says, "You're standing on my neck!" Mezrich thanks Aaron Sorkin in his acknowledgments. I am at a loss to understand why Sorkin got involved with him at all. I really can't understand how Sorkin and Fincher made such a good film if this book was at the root. Sorkin and Fincher are real talents; Mezrich is not. They created a noteworthy piece of work that tells a good story (although, again, and it must be emphasized, not the factual record of the creation of Facebook); Mezrich wrote (I refuse to say created) a third-rate mess that is neither non-fiction, nor investigative journalism, nor historical fiction, nor good, creative fiction loosely suggested by real persons and occurrences. (Memo to "Law and Order" franchise: do not hire Mezrich as a scriptwriter.) I wonder why Zuckerberg didn't sue Mezrich. Then again, the almost sourceless book is so bad and is filled with so many constructions like "perhaps," "maybe," "one can imagine," "likely," "the odds are good that," and my personal favorite - "we can picture Mark reading the words on the (business) card aloud to himself" that I certainly can understand Zuckerberg ignoring the whole thing. He is, after all, a computer genius.
Profile Image for Archit.
824 reviews3,224 followers
February 14, 2018
Anyone who wants to be an entrepreneur can enjoy this work. An enjoyable read and much to learn from.
Profile Image for Tom.
133 reviews3 followers
December 24, 2010
Here is one of the rare cases where I say the film ("The Social Contract") is better than the book. Mezrich's version of Facebook's founding is a fast read but one told primarily through the eyes and voice of Eduardo Saverin, the partner who has claimed he was cheated and misled by Facebook originator Mark Zuckerberg. As such, it is just one-half of the usual "he said/she said" story. Since the book was published in early 2010, we don't know yet the final outcome of Saverin's litigation against Zuckerberg, nor the end result of a similar suit brought by the Winklevoss twins, the Harvard students who claim Zuckerberg stole their idea for a social network website.
It is clear the book falls in the "nonfiction novel" category, as Mezrich provides us not only with spoken dialogue but also interior thoughts as the various characters ascend in elevators, fly in jets, row sculls and size up drunken parties. Too many passages are introduced by ambivalent disclaimers like "Maybe somewhere inside of Mark's thoughts, he knew..." and "As Eduardo watches the banker...maybe he wonders, for the briefest of seconds, if he is going too far." The tale is told in dramatic scenes that jump around and seem to cry out "Buy my movie rights." (Columbia Pictures did.)
If the book was based primarily on information supplied by Saverin, it still leaves a great deal unanswered about Saverin's character and motives. Just what was it about Zuckerberg, with the personality of an automaton, that attracted Saverin? As the book tells it, Zuckerberg was an awkward Harvard junior who had acquired some campus fame as a hacker of the university's computer system. Saverin, a senior, is shown as admiring Zuckerberg's geekiness and chutzpah but also being frustrated by Z's aloof attitude. Saverin's other friends were fellow members of one of Harvard's private clubs -- typical smart-alecky, highly social frat boys. So just what was it that made these two opposites bond? Saverin clearly was far more emotional about their friendship and apparently grew jealous when Zuckerberg left Cambridge and gravitated toward Napster party boy Sean Parker in Palo Alto. But the book doesn't spell out clearly what Saverin thought he would accomplish by freezing the Facebook bank account. The book coyly hints there might have been more than a business partnership but stops short of alleging a gay component to their relationship. Yet Saverin's decision to drop his girlfriend and head off to a lonely career start-up in New York after his graduation certainly made me wonder. Perhaps some day Zuckerberg will give us a memoir that provides the other half of this story.
Profile Image for Scribble Orca.
213 reviews374 followers
January 24, 2011
This is not a high energy book!

You'll have a much better time watching the movie The Social Network (I did, on the plane, from Munich to Singapore), you might even come away with a sense of who was nasty and who was nice, but reading the book is like eating white toast bread. Tasteless. And disappointing. Being a firm believe of the old cliche that the book is better than the film, I was expecting to come away with some tangible insights. I didn't.

It's nothing to do with Mezrich's skill as a writer. He remains dutifully even-handed from the first to the last page. It's simply because (oh no, I'm doing it again, placing the author in his social context, slap my wrist!) Mezrich belongs to the same set of people about whom he is writing, and while he's keen to tell a story, he's also minding his "p"s and "q"s.

You aren't going to get the real low-down on who did with what and stabbed whom how hard and for how much reading this book. You'll find out quite some background (and if you like that, I recommend the book), and you might be left with equal quantities of sympathy for all the players (insofar as they are depicted as being deserving of sympathy, which is an entirely subjective view-point). But if actions speak louder than words, watch the film. Zuckerberg has reinstated Savarin as co-founder publically, and Saverin has received an undisclosed pay-out sum, the WV twins are now arguing that the 2008 valuation of Face-book has left them short-changed, and meanwhile Sean Parker still smiling.

And while you're watching the film, keep in the back of your mind that Goodreads is a social network site. If there are privacy and potential misuse issues surrounding your use of Facebook, be sure the same issues are only a few profile pages away here. I know. One of my friends was just hauled off the site for being too close to the industry.

3 reviews2 followers
April 8, 2013
"The Accidental Billionaires" by Ben Mezrich is a great book that I recommend to all young people today and all those who aspire to start their own business and change the world.

The ideology of the new generation includes without any doubt the giant Facebook. It has become part of the social evolution of our century and it has reached even the basic unit of society: family and individual. In my opinion, Facebook is the tool we use nowadays for both personal and business activities. Today’s generation is marked by Facebook and it identifies with it. Each of us is influenced by what this social networking platform has become.
Profile Image for Carol Storm.
Author 28 books182 followers
May 27, 2011
My God this SUCKS!!!!!!!!

It's not shocking that this book is so bad. Mark Zuckerberg has so much money and so much power that no one can force him to spill his guts. Lots of people resent that. But even assuming that the worst is true, about Mark and his empire, was Ben Mezrich the BEST author they could find to trash this guy?

Ben Mezrich doesn't write like someone who loves books, or who enjoys reading. He writes like he is blind drunk in a frat house at 3 AM, and trying to impress the other guys with how cool he is. It's so bad that at times you think it's some kind of scam, or he's pulling your leg. But he's not. He really THINKS he's becoming the next Jay McInerney or the next F. Scott Fitztgerald just by padding a (very) limited version of events with LONG, LONG, tedious descriptions. Here's an example.

"Eduardo drank a beer while Mark explained how FACEBOOK would actually work."

Ben Mezrich takes that kind of sentence and lets it fester and grow and swell, until it becomes something like a giant squid in a horror movie.

"Eduardo swallowed the cold beer, letting it chill his throat, letting it slide into his stomach, letting the alcohol numb the sense of inadequacy and fear that he tried so desperately to hide by getting in with the social elite at Harvard -- one of the oldest colleges in the country. Mark was explaining how FACEBOOK would actually work, but to Eduardo the words were just background. All he really focused on was the idea of being connected, belonging, having hundreds and hundreds of hot girls climbing all over him, rubbing up against him. giving him the attention he so desperately needed to forget that he was really just a nobody, a dark-skinned Jew from Miami. Mark could give him all these things -- all these things will I give you, Mark seemed to be saying, just like Dracula promising an endless feast of red-eyed rats to the quivering and submissive Renfield."

Okay, the last part was me, not Mezrich. But that's only because I've read books and been influenced by them. Where Ben Mezrich got his style I do not know -- and I hope I never find out.

One final note: after I dumped this book at the library I picked up another biography. PRETTY BOY by Charles Wallis. People say Mark Zuckerberg is a gangster. Pretty Boy Floyd was a REAL gangster, and yet today there are real, serious, GROWN UP biographers creating great works of literature exploring his life. What does Mark Zuckerberg have to do to get the same respect as Pretty Boy Floyd?
Profile Image for RJ - Slayer of Trolls.
765 reviews179 followers
August 16, 2016
Hoping to keep a wary eye on the online exploits of my 13 year old daughter, I asked her if she would "friend" me on Instagram. She looked at me skeptically and said, "you should get Facebook - that's for old people." Ouch. This book by Ben Mezrich is theoretically about the founding of Facebook in 2004 on the campus of Harvard University, but mostly it's about how co-founder Mark Zuckerberg screwed over everyone involved in the company, and maybe everyone he ever met (allegedly). Wait, you're saying to yourself, didn't I see a movie about this a few years ago? Yes, this book was the basis for The Social Network directed by David "Se7en" Fincher and starring, you know, that kid from Zombieland as Zuckerberg. Author Mezrich specializes in pseudo-non-fiction books (see: "Bringing Down the House") which contain a large amount of hyberbole and very likely embellishments by "unnamed sources." Let's just say Woodward and Bernstein have nothing to fear here. Still, I continue to come back to Mezrich's books despite his numerous literary failings because the guy tells an amusing story, and some of it might even be true. Peeks into the lives of Harvard students and also into the Venture Capitalists of Silicon Valley are interesting, although it's frustrating that they weren't explored more thoroughly as they would have been by a New Yorker journalist like Susan Orlean (The Orchid Thief) or David Grann (The Lost City of Z). The interplay between the principals in the birth and rise of Facebook is also entertaining, sort of like watching reality show idiots squabble over various issues - except of course in this case billions of dollars are at stake. Cheap and tawdry, yet entertaining enough for a cross-country airplane trip - that's Mezrich's legacy in the publishing world.
Profile Image for Caroline Johnson.
125 reviews749 followers
March 10, 2022
This confirmed my suspicions that my love for The Social Network movie stems more from my crippling obsession with Jesse Eisenberg than my interest in Facebook’s origin story. Sorkin actually adapted the screenplay from this book in particular so I guess Mezrich technically has a writing credit for the film. Which is huge for a guy who straight up admitted at the beginning of the book: “yeah so I kind of had to make up a lot of this stuff to pull off the narrative style bc I couldn’t get an interview with Mark and also I wasn’t there so how was I supposed to know what really happened??” Hahahaha I respect that and had fun listening to this on audio.
1,331 reviews30 followers
April 29, 2010
quick, sometimes amusing, read about the creation of Facebook. As possibly the last person in America not on Facebook, I was unfamiliar with the back story. As might have been predicted, the college students who started it weren't prepared to handle the skyrocketing success, and friendships imploded in multiple lawsuits about who created what when and who was cheating whom on the money.

Unfortunately, the author was unable to get the single most central character, Mark Zuckerberg, to be interviewed, which casts a long shadow over the credibility of the narrative. He comes across as a brilliant computer programmer with little human feeling for, or fairness to, his peers, but then again the sources for this account are people in litigation against him.

Relatedly, I wasn't sure how much stock to put in chapters consisting entirely of conjecture about what someone was thinking/feeling on a particular morning several years earlier while waking up with a hangover, checking email, etc. (we can picture him there in his unfashionable grey hoodie, wondering 'what was the name of that girl at the party last night'.......etc. etc. etc.) There are many such chapters in this padded 200+-page book with the substance of a magazine article. Author is clearly fascinated by the social whirlwind surrounding Harvard "finals clubs", relevance of which is minimal to the main story.

Finally, if this account is even close to accurate, in my next life I want to come back as one of the twins who settled for 65 million bucks against Zuckerberg in a suit claiming he stole their idea. They had a related but clearly not identical concept (dating site exclusively for students at elite colleges), zero ability to make it happen, put up no money, and had no written contract with him. They trained for and made the US Olympic rowing team while Zuckerberg was doing the programming and marketing of Facebook (nee "thefacebook"). Not a bad payoff for their investment of a couple planning meetings and emails with him re their idea.
21 reviews
June 26, 2010
A big "eh." For the first few chapters, I was really thrown off by Mezrich's writing style. He just tries too hard. I kept thinking he was trying to be a writer instead of actually being one ("the white and blue-colored crepe paper....one of the bowing so low that its taffeta-like curls threatened to overwhelmt he oversize punch bowl perched below"..." is a tame example). I was interested to see I wasn't the only reader annoyed by this. Admittedly in later chapters, I found myself wanting to finish the book and see how events played out (that's why it'll get 2 stars). I'll agree with others that the story is half-told, but I think the author is pretty open about that. I think the larger problem is that the writing feels rushed...probably to capitalize on the Facebook buzz? The other flaw is its style and use of stereotypes.

I was interested to see some of the history behind FB...for instance, I always wondered how Friendster factored in since that was gaining steam. So that was of interest. And he does weave together the bits about Zuckerburg being single-minded and cutting off friends/business partners. Interesting, maybe true maybe not. And the book has little else to offer.
I don't have time at the moment to write about the portrayal of women in this book. Whether this is Mezrich himself (or as he says, using the thoughts of his sources, i.e., Saverin), it's fairly disturbing...
296 reviews
July 24, 2022
A wild true story, later adapted to the popular movie, "A Social Network", this book describes the creation of Facebook from a cramped Harvard dorm room to silicone valley and the various lawsuits that ensued following Mark Zuckerberg's ruthless leadership. An easy to read and thoroughly enjoyable book, a must read for anyone interested in dot com startups and 21st century business.
68 reviews
September 13, 2020
The Facebook revolution

Or was it not just an inevitable evolution of the internet? If it hadn't been Mark Zuckerberg it would have been someone else. I firmly believe that Facebook hasnt enhanced the lives of millions but has actually alienated many people from a natural sense of what it is to be human. Personally I have very negative feelings about Facebook I believe its a dangerous volatile tool that is used to manipulate and control the way people interact with each other and how they live they're lives. It causes more harm than good and though I can appreciate the technical prowess and level of skill, focus, intelligence and determination it must have taken to get it to the stage its at again I dont see that as being a good thing at all. People are more connected than ever before but also more isolated, lonely and insecure than ever before. I'm not blaming Facebook solely for this, certainly not, but it has made a significant contribution.

Having said all that, this is for me an excellent book and delivers a really interesting, objective, entertaining portrayal of the creation and evolution of Facebook. Taking us from its (not so) humble beginnings in the dorm rooms of Harvard all the way through the developmental years in Silicon Valley. What I find most fascinating is the shear ruthlessness Zuckerberg exhibits towards not just potential rivals but also to his best friend and how he values Facebook over everything with a level of intensity similar to that of a person exhibiting strong psychopathic tendencies. By extension this makes me wonder more about the potentially dangerous impact Facebook could have on impressionable minds which lets face it is most of if not all of society.

Ben Mezrich has done a great job delivering a very clear, fast paced, fun and engaging book. I am looking forward to getting into his other work and would definately recommend this to anyone with an interest in Facebook and also in mental health/personality disorders.
Profile Image for Ivy.
209 reviews26 followers
May 29, 2012
Although much of Ben Mezrich's information is sketchy at best, he writes a very engaging story of how much blood, sweat and tears were shed in the founding of Facebook. Though he no doubt interviewed some of the key players in this drama, the most important point of view is missing---Mark Zuckerberg's. The drama, ironically, revolves around Zuckerberg yet the author felt he had enough information from other sources to write a book about him. That might be fine for some people, but I had a problem with him describing situations which only Mark was witness to. Mezrich could only make suppositions about how a certain situation might have unfolded, but he could never know for sure. Yet he has no problems creating a fictitious account for his readers to believe.

Eduardo Severin's account of how he was basically shafted by Zuckerberg really did win my sympathy. Of all the people surrounding Zuckerberg, Eduardo was the one who was a genuine friend. He seemed the one who best understood the timid genius and accepted him warts and all. Severin even put up his own money to initially launch Facebook, but when Severin chose to stay in school and finish his education instead of giving himself body and soul to the company he'd helped create, he is pushed out.

Mezrich goes on to describe the wild parties, drinking orgies, and promiscuous behavior involved in gathering new investors to make Facebook even bigger. The geeks were now bagging Victoria's Secret models, where in college they were basically ignored. To sum it up, this book leaves a bad taste in my mouth---one that makes me want to delete my Facebook account. But I won't because I am far too addicted. This becomes the recipe for Mark Zuckerberg's success. Like a drug dealer he knows just what his customers want and he gives it to them until they're addicted. Then he'll start charging higher prices. Talk about making some of FB's features "pay-only" is now circulating. Will we give in and pay or will we have the strength to say 'no' and walk away?
Profile Image for Eric_W.
1,920 reviews354 followers
July 22, 2012
If you have seen the movie, The Social Network, you already know the plot. Filled with the purported conversations of college students from years ago, one must remain somewhat skeptical. However, I get really nervous when the author describes taking a flight from New York to San Francisco on a 757 “wide-body.” (It’s a narrow-body.)

Mezrich, himself, says several of the characters are composites (more red flags,) and some reviewers have complained the book was too long and boring. I listened to it as an audiobook while mowing the lawn, so my expectations in that regard aren’t terribly high, and I did enjoy - or at least found interesting - the legal stuff, i.e. really rich students suing other really rich students while sucking at daddy’s teat.

One does wonder what Zuckerberg might have accomplished had he been studying philosophy instead of computer science. The social outcast as future billionaire. Mostly the characters come across as very unhappy people.

Amusing, but take with a block of salt. The author himself has noted elsewhere that he was making do with limited sources, but that the point of the book was not to be history but rather a commentary on the values of current culture. I understand Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six M.I.T. Students Who Took Vegas for Millions is a better representation of what the author can do.
Profile Image for Himal Kotelawala.
40 reviews24 followers
April 21, 2013
It's easy to see why so many people seem to dismiss this book as a glorified beach read. At first glance, it's poorly written - and worse - hurriedly edited. Admittedly, it is no masterpiece in terms of writing; but, ultimately, The Accidental Billionaires more than manages to accomplish what it sets out to: to tell an entertaining story as accurately as possible about a bunch of living, breathing multi-billionaires, without its author having to face a lawsuit, or worse.

From Page 1 onwards, you can almost hear author Mezrich's brain working furiously, behind the scenes, trying to strike that elusive balance between fact and fiction; and, to me, that was half the fun. Mezrich's blatant second guessing of his own characterisations, for example, was as good a reason as any to keep on reading. And you've got to hand it to the guy for being bold enough to sacrifice consistency on the altar of accuracy, just to make sure that not one of the major players in his story came out looking like your stereotypical bad guy - or, as Mezrich would say, your average James Bond villain. (Be warned, there is quite a bit of 007 references in there).

Obviously, feeling bad for the writer is no reason to force yourself to read anything (especially a story purportedly based on true, world-changing events); and there are any number of reasons to give this novel a chance. For one thing, it couldn't be more different from the movie it inspired. If you've seen David Fincher's The Social Network (2010) and loved it as I have, you'd probably think reading the lesser known (and not half as respected) source material would be redundant. You couldn't be more wrong. Where the movie arguably succeeds in making main character Mark Zuckerberg look like an asshole (Hollywood being what it is), the book manages to stay focused on telling the story of Facebook, the end-all-be-all of social networking (for now, anyway), giving equal screen time to all the major characters, inviting - practically begging - the reader make up their own mind. And in my humble opinion, Mezrich does a pretty commendable job of getting most things right, especially given the circumstances, even if the writing could've been better. In the end, it was a satisfying read; and barring the indecently brisk pace of it, it was pretty engaging. Read it, not because you give a damn about pretentious literary conventions; read it because you care about a good, 21st century true-to-life account.
Profile Image for Ericka Clou.
2,106 reviews163 followers
June 14, 2020
I am torn about how to review this book. Yes, of course, it's as badly written as everyone who read this 10 years ago says it is. And it's ridiculously disgustingly sexist- and it appears to be the author pushing this sexism more than it being a reflection of the subjects of the book. The thing is, 10 years ago, we didn't know that Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook would contribute to the destruction of democracy. While it's not necessarily accurate, it at least lets us see what Eduardo Saverin thought of Zuckerberg at a younger age.
Profile Image for Steven Levy.
Author 43 books629 followers
September 18, 2010
All you need to do is read the disclaimer where he basically says that he'll make up stuff when he doesn't have a sufficiently dramatic scene to feed Aaron Sorkin, and it's clear that you'll never know what's fiction or nonfiction -- just that he never spoke to his main subject. Read David Kirkpatrick's The Facebook Effect for a solid account of FB.
Profile Image for Fay Elise ♡.
17 reviews1 follower
February 18, 2022
still not sure whether i love this book, as i’m not a big fan of the writing style, but the story itself is pretty good and even shocking sometimes!
Profile Image for jaden.
10 reviews
January 12, 2023
girls after reading a dudebro book and deciding it was actually about gay sex and evil boy autism.

okay. my first read of hopefully many of 2023. sometimes i felt like this book dragged a bit especially in the middle. and the writing felt like the script for what would be a very poorly narrated documentary. but then it really grabbed me towards the end and i couldn't put it down. overall, i still enjoyed it and i tabbed this book up like crazy regardless. it hurts. :( also the movie created from this? literally peak cinema changed my life btw. and i do think this book adds details to the movie that i really liked. it just makes me want to rewatch the social network 5 more times

the LGBT (and chicken) community has forgiven eduardo saverin.
Profile Image for Helen.
19 reviews1 follower
May 15, 2021
i think reading this book has just showed me how talented aaron sorkin is as a screenwriter, PIVOTAL events in the movie like the chicken, erica, even one of the most iconic scenes in cinema the pradas at the cleaners monologue was completely made up by sorkin, giving me very much atonement vibes with the “writer gives character closure but the confrontation never actually a happened” kinda deal. for a movie so rich in beautiful dialogue this book has barely any and lacks what the movie had despite the movie being an adaptation. how do you show up a book you literally adapted a screenplay from?!?!? good job aaron
776 reviews
May 16, 2018
I'm one of the few people I know who DOESN'T have a Facebook profile. Still, I appreciate what Facebook has done to revolutionize social media. While it is sad that several young entrepreneurs feel slighted and betrayed by Mark Zuckerberg, it certainly isn't surprising. Don't most start-up companies have their growing pains? And this is kind of a twist because while the Winklevoss twins think they had the idea, they didn't do any of the coding or creating. This time the guy who actually put in the work got the credit and the lion's share of the money. Most of these guys have ended up billionaires--BILLIONAIRES--which is nothing to sneeze at.
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