Zuckerberg was born in 1984 in White Plains, New York. He is the son of dentist Edward Zuckerberg and psychiatrist Karen Kempner. He and his three sisters, Randi, Donna, and Arielle, were brought up in Dobbs Ferry, New York, a small town about 10 miles north of New York City. Zuckerberg was raised Jewish and had his bar mitzvah when he turned 13. Afterward, he became an atheist.
At Ardsley High School, Zuckerberg excelled in classics. He transferred to Phillips Exeter Academy in his junior year, where he won prizes in science (math, astronomy and physics) and classical studies. On his college application, Zuckerberg claimed that he could read and write French, Hebrew, Latin, and ancient Greek. He was captain of the fencing team. In college, he was known for reciting lines from epic poems such as The Iliad.
After graduating from Exeter in 2002, Zuckerberg enrolled at Harvard University. By his sophomore year at the ivy league institution, he had developed a reputation as the go-to software developer on campus. It was at that time that he built a program called CourseMatch, which helped students choose their classes based on the course selections of other users. He also invented Facemash, which compared the pictures of two students on campus and allowed users to vote on which one was more attractive. The program became wildly popular, but was later shut down by the school administration after it was deemed inappropriate.
Based on the buzz of his previous projects, three of his fellow students- Divya Narendra, and twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss- sought him out to work on an idea for a social networking site they called Harvard Connection. This site was designed to use information from Harvard's student networks in order to create a dating site for the Harvard elite. Zuckerberg agreed to help with the project, but soon dropped out to work on his own social networking site with friends Dustin Moskovitz, Chris Hughes and Eduardo Saverin.
Zuckerberg and his friends created a site that allowed users to create their own profiles, upload photos, and communicate with other users. The group ran the site-first called The Facebook out of a dorm room at Harvard until June 2004. After his sophomore year, Zuckerberg dropped out of college to devote himself to Facebook full time, moving the company to Palo Alto, California. By the end of 2004, Facebook had 1 million users.
In 2005, Zuckerberg's enterprise received a huge boost from the venture capital firm Accel Partners. Accel invested $ 12.7 million into the network, which at the time was open only to ivy league students. Zuckerberg's company then granted access to other colleges, high school and international schools, pushing the site's membership to more than 5.5 million users by December 2005. The site then began attracting the interest of other companies, who wanted to advertize with the popular social hub. Not wanting to sell out, Zuckerberg turned down offers from companies such as Yahoo! and MTV Networks. Instead, he focused on expanding the site, opening up his project to outside developers and adding more features.
Zuckerberg seemed to be going nowhere but up, however in 2006, the business mogul faced his first big hurdle. The creators of Harvard Connection claimed that Zuckerberg stole their idea, and insisted the software developer needed to pay for their business losses. Zuckerberg maintained that the ideas were based on two very different types of social networks but, after lawyers searched Zuckerberg's records, incriminating Instant Messages revealed that Zuckerberg may have intentionally stolen the intellectual property of Harvard Connection and offered Facebook users' private information to his friends.
Zuckerberg later apologized for the incriminating messages, saying he regretted them. "If you're going to go on to build a service that is influential and that a lot of people rely on, then you need to be mature, right?" he said in an interview with The New Yorker. "I think I've grown and learned a lot."
Although an initial settlement of $ 65 million was reached between the two parties, the legal dispute over the matter continued well into 2011, after Narendra and the Winklevosses claimed they were misled in regards to the value of their stock.
Zuckerberg faced yet another personal challenge when the 2009 book The Accidental Billionaires, by writer Ben
Mezrich, hit stores. Mezrich was heavily criticized for his re-telling of Zuckerberg's story, which used invented scenes, re-imagined dialogue and fictional characters. Regardless of how true-to-life the story was, Mezrich managed to sell the rights of the tale to screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, and the critically acclaimed film The Social Network received eight Academy Award nominations.
Yet Zuckerberg and Facebook continued to succeed, in spite of the criticism. Time magazine named him Person of the Year in 2010, and Vanity Fairplaced him at the top of their New Establishment list. Forbes also ranked Zuckerberg at No. 35-beating out Apple CEO Steve Jobs-on its "400" list, estimating his net worth to be $ 6.9 billion.
In May 2013, Facebook made the Fortune 500 list for the first time-making Zuckerberg, at the age of 28, the youngest CEO on the list.
At a party put on by his fraternity during his sophomore year, Zuckerberg met Priscilla Chan, a fellow student whom he began dating in 2003. Chan is the child of a Chinese-Vietnamese refugee, who arrived in the US after the Fall of Saigon. She was born in Braintree, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston, and is a 2003 graduate of Quincy High School. In September 2010, Zuckerberg invited Chan, by then a medical student at the University of California, San Francisco to move into his rented Palo Alto house. Zuckerberg studied Mandarin Chinese in preparation for the couple's visit to the People's Republic of China in December 2010. On May 19, 2012, Zuckerberg and Chan married in Zuckerberg's backyard.