Facebook's IPO will put Zuckerberg's 'open, connected' mantra to the test
Almost exactly eight years ago today, on the first Wednesday of February 2004, Mark Zuckerberg famously launched thefacebook.com out of his Harvard dorm room.
And now on the first Wednesday of February 2012, the company he built has filed papers for what's expected to be the largest initial public offering ever to come out of Silicon Valley, not to mention one of the largest in U.S. history.
But from dorm room to IPO, Zuckerberg says the vision for his social networking site has remained the same. The goal with the company that has made him billions, he says, has never been about making money, but rather to make the world more "open" and "connected" -- two words he has been known to repeat, like a sort of mantra.
On Facebook's 6th anniversary in 2010, when the networking site had less than half of the 845 million monthly users the company claimed in Wednesday's IPO filing, Zuckerberg wrote a letter to Facebook users explaining the company's mission: "Facebook began six years ago today as a product that my roommates and I built to help people around us connect easily, share information and understand one another better," he wrote, "...and thanks to you we've made great progress over the last year towards making the world more open and connected."
In a letter to investors included in Facebook's IPO filing, Zuckerberg drilled down on that theme, starting with the first line of the letter:
"Facebook was not originally created to be a company. It was built to accomplish a social mission -- to make the world more open and connected," he writes.
Of course, some are concerned about the lack of privacy in the "open" and "connected" world of the future that Zuckerberg has conceived, and helped create -- especially as Facebook will likely face pressure from investors and Wall Street analysts to turn its biggest asset -- personal information about its hundreds of millions of users -- into bigger and bigger profits.
Image: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers a keynote during the Facebook f8 Developer Conference in September of 2011. Credit: Kimihiro Hoshino /AFP