Two students and friends, Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin, wanted to meet girls and be accepted into the Harvard elite, so they started up a fledgling version of the now ubiquitous social network. The friendship ended up in court, and Eduardo decided to tell his story to Ben Mezrich. Hollywood is already working on a movie which will be directed by David Fincher.
Where did the idea for the book come from?
It started with an e-mail I got from a college kid who was best friends with Eduardo Saverin. Eduardo wanted to tell me his story, about how he felt he had been betrayed by his best friend. I was fascinated by the drama of the youngest billionaire in the world, and what he had done to create Facebook. I was already on Facebook, and my wife uses it every day. I didn’t know anything about how it had been founded, or the drama surrounding these two best friends.
Did you use a lot of sources from inside Facebook?
I had many sources inside and out of Facebook. Many college kids who had been there when it was founded and many people who are in the book itself. It took about a year to research and write.
What surprises did your investigation unearth?
I was surprised by how fast Facebook became this billion-dollar company — and also how none of the characters central to the story really cared that much about getting rich. Mark doesn’t care about money, just about Facebook. It was amazing to see how these geeky college kids, who really just wanted to meet girls and be cool, managed to change the world.
Why did you decide to write it as a novel?
Actually, it isn’t a novel, it’s a nonfiction thriller — a genre that I am creating with my books, true stories written as if they were movies. This is my style — it upsets some journalists, especially here in the U.S., but I think it’s a great way to tell a true story. The facts of the book are true, it’s just written like a thriller.
It’s ironic that the socially uncomfortable Mark Zuckerberg created the biggest social network on the Web. Have you ever met him?
Mark is a very strange guy, very closed in on himself and not the kind of person it’s easy to talk to. Over the year I spent a lot of time trying to get him to open up to me, but in the end he decided not to cooperate.
Do you think the lawsuits between Eduardo and Mark are over?
I do. I believe they have settled, and Eduardo is now regarded as a co-founder of Facebook — because of my book, I think! Anyway, Eduardo is no longer speaking to me, as part of that settlement, so there you go.