Lifetime of Achievement: Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg
Founding Facebook in 2004, Mark Zuckerberg has overseen the company’s rise, rebrand to Meta and recent focus on technologies such as the metaverse and AI

Mark Zuckerberg is the founder, chairman and CEO of Meta, which he originally founded as Facebook in 2004. He is responsible for setting the overall direction and product strategy for the company.

Born in 1984 in White Plains, New York, Zuckerberg's fascination with technology began early. As a teenager, he built a music player called Synapse, which caught the attention of Microsoft and AOL. He attended Phillips Exeter Academy, a prestigious preparatory school, where he excelled in fencing and academics. In 2002, he enrolled at Harvard University, studying computer science and psychology.

At Harvard, Zuckerberg started creating software programs, including CourseMatch, which helped students choose classes based on their peers' selections. In 2004, he launched TheFacebook, as it was initially named, from his dorm room. The platform, designed to connect Harvard students, quickly gained popularity and expanded to other universities. Zuckerberg, joined by his college roommates Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes, dropped out of Harvard to focus on Facebook full-time, moving to Palo Alto, California in 2004.

Fueled by venture capital and strategic acquisitions, Facebook's reach expanded rapidly. In the following years it became a global phenomenon, attracting billions of users and transforming how people connect and share information. In the 20 years since its founding the company has built an empire of social media platforms, including Instagram, Threads and Whatsapp.

In October 2021, Facebook rebranded to Meta to reflect all of its products and services across its family of apps and a focus on developing social experiences for the metaverse — moving beyond 2D screens toward immersive experiences like augmented and virtual reality to help build the next evolution in social technology.

“We believe the metaverse will be the successor to the mobile internet,” Zuckerberg explained at the company’s Connect event in 2021. “We’ll be able to feel present, like we’re right there with people, no matter how far apart we actually are. We’ll be able to express ourselves in new, joyful, completely immersive ways and that’s going to unlock a lot of amazing new experiences.”

In 2012, Zuckerberg married Priscilla Chan, a philanthropist and physician. Together, they established the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI), founded in 2015 to help solve some of society’s toughest challenges – from eradicating disease and improving education, to addressing the needs of local communities. Through collaboration, providing resources and building technology, CZI’s mission is to help build a more inclusive, just and healthy future for everyone.

As of today, Zuckerberg remains the CEO and controlling shareholder of Meta Platforms. He continues to play a pivotal role in shaping the future of online communication, facing new challenges such as regulating content, combating online harms and building the Metaverse, a virtual world with the potential to redefine social interaction.

Meta has also made moves in the field of artificial intelligence. In January 2024, the tech giant revealed that it had officially started training Llama 3 - the latest generation of its generative AI (Gen AI) model - to develop artificial general intelligence (AGI).

“Our long term vision is to build general intelligence, open source it responsibly, and make it widely available so everyone can benefit,” Zuckerberg said. 

“We're currently training our next-gen model Llama 3, and we're building massive compute infrastructure to support our future roadmap.”

Time named Zuckerberg one of the most influential people in the world in 2008, 2011, 2016 and 2019, and nominated him as a finalist several other times. He was named the Time Person of the Year in 2010, the same year when Facebook eclipsed more than half a billion users.

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