Thursday, December 03, 2009

The Accidental Billionaires, by Ben Mezrich

This audio book was obtained from Overdrive Audio through the Alachua County Public Library. It was 7 hours and 19 minutes long and was read by Mike Chamberlain.

Think of it as the long-awaited "Facebook Story". Ben Mezrich, the author of the fabulous "Bringing Down the House," has done an exhaustive job of researching Facebook's genesis, and has created a work that is enough of a dramatization to make it almost a novel. To be sure, Mark Zuckerberg, the youthful founder of Facebook, did NOT sign off on this. And I cannot say I am surprised.

The story begins with Zuckerberg, and his friend, Eduardo Saverin, trying to meet girls at Harvard, where they are both undergrads. Mark gets an idea to create a website that archives photos of all the girls at Harvard and pairs random pictures for users of the site to choose which is hotter. While the site is in it's experimental phase, some of his computer science friends pass the site around and it goes viral in a short time and nearly gets him kicked out of school for hacking school databases and stealing the picture files that he used. His notoriety alerts some other students who were working on a social networking site of their own, and they approach him to help with it. He agrees, but then leaves them high and dry to create his own site, which goes on to become Facebook.

This is morality tale about friendship and how money changes everything. You will find yourself taking sides in this book, and perhaps even changing sides by the end of it. The Facebook relationship status "It's Complicated" is a fitting description of what happened between Mark and Eduardo. I think Mark was a lousy friend, and Eduardo was a lousy business partner. It's your call to decide which you think is worse.

The reader sounded so much like my favorite, Scott Brick, that it bumped this fun, interesting story into 4 star territory.

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