Upon the release of the American biographical drama film ‘The Social Network’, it received universal praise, making it one of the best films created in 2010. The film follows the real-life story of Mark Zuckerberg and the uprise of his global social networking platform, dwelling on themes such as friendship, power, class and more. While the film discusses the sudden popularity of Facebook and the consequences that followed, it is important to explore the embedded concepts of innovation and technological entrepreneurship.
Facebook currently has more than two billion monthly active users, making it the biggest social network worldwide, however the platform has been through considerable evolution to reach today’s success. The idea of Facebook was first born after Zuckerberg invented ‘FaceMash’, which allowed Harvard students to compare fellow female classmates on the basis of their appearance. While FaceMash was short-lived and received widespread criticism, it was crucial for the development of Facebook as it provided the social networking platform with its basic foundation. Though Harvard at the time already had online directories which displayed students’ profiles along with some of their basic information, the school lacked a site that connected students across all faculties and colleges. This propped Zuckerberg to develop and create what was then named ‘TheFacebook.com’. The site’s first launch proved to be a success, showing Zuckerberg that a strong user demand existed, validating his belief that an online community was desirable. This led the platform to expand outside of Harvard, reaching various schools including Yale and Stanford, and later on into the international market. Through time, Facebook has evolved into something more than just a site with user profiles, but a platform that allowed users to have self-expression, find community worldwide, watch videos customized to their tastes, and even buy and trade items with other users nearby. Facebook completely changed the way people kept in touch, the way both global and local media is circulated, and how businesses interacted with consumers, driving a lasting impact in the media environment.
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That being said, while Zuckerberg’s concept of Facebook was highly successful, allowing him to turn it into a profitable business organization, not all creative ideas lead to the same results. To transition from a mere idea into a business opportunity, ‘The Social Network’ has identified various pivotal steps Zuckerberg took throughout the development of his platform. Zuckerberg was first able to quickly identify the problem his peers faced, that there was a lack of community and inconvenience to network in the virtual world. Hence, by developing Facebook, he has created a solution to many, suggesting a potential demand for his product. However, to ensure a sustainable market for Facebook, Zuckerberg brilliantly targeted his platform at college students, specifically to those who attended Harvard in the initial stages of the launch, painting it an exclusive and prestigious illusion. This further boosted the platform’s desirability, and as it expanded internationally, people were quick to join, resulting in an upsurge in its popularity. Moreover, this would not been made possible without the strong support system Zuckerberg had. Together with his co-founders, Sean Parker, and Peter Thiel, Zuckerberg was able to convert a college project into a billion-dollar business. Therefore, while ‘The Social Network is dramatized’, it gave viewers a framework the steps needed to take to bridge the gap between an idea and a successful business. It takes a glimpse into the importance of creating a product that would be deemed useful, critically identifying who would be the target audiences, and having business partners that could provide guidance.
As mentioned above, having a support system was crucial to Facebook’s success. However, one person in particular who played an especially important role was Thiel. With Thiel’s angel investment of $500,000, Facebook was able to grow exponentially, proving the critical role venture capitalists play in any start-up companies. As a result of the venture money, Facebook was finally able to move forward in the cycle of innovation. The company started to commercialize, taking on a financial objective for profitable gains. Zuckerberg gained control, solidifying the infrastructure and balance sheet of Facebook for further organizational growth. He invested in necessary human capital to propel the technological advancement of Facebook, hiring new interns and employees not only to develop new features, but to begin exploring the power of marketing and sponsorships. Therefore, it could be said that Facebook would not have had its success today if it weren’t for Thiel’s investment.
In conclusion, though the film was not entirely fact-based, it however did give enormous insight into the potential and impact an innovation can have on the world. It subsequently showed the efforts and hard work that goes into producing a product like Facebook, inspiring future entrepreneurs, businessmen and students alike.