Being a Facebook junkie for well over a year now, I was anxious to see the movie even though I pretty much knew Mark Zuckerberg’s story from other news interviews and such. It definitely helps to know a bit of that too as you dive into this movie because right from the start your thrown into the night that Mark created facemash.com which was the precipice to the launch of the now billion dollar social network.
Jesse Eisenberg does an amazing job as a quick tongued Harvard geek not yet exuding the confidence that we see in Mark in interviews today. I laughed out loud seeing Mark blogging on LiveJournal in the beginning of the movie. I had an LJ account to back then but left it for WordPress because unlike many, I’m still a blogger these days. I microblog on Twitter and Facebook too if that’s what you call it.
As the story goes, Mark is approached by the over confident and rich Winklevoss twins who want to launch a social network for Harvard students. Mark teams up with them and agrees to be their coder, but somewhere along the way he runs with the idea and makes it better. Yeah, maybe he did steal the premise and made it better. Good lawyers helped the Winklevoss get a 65 million dollar settlement for Mark’s intellectual theft, if that’s what you want to call it.
Mark also turned on his best friend, Eduardo Saverin, who had 30% holdings on Facebook when Mark made him CFO. Eduardo had good intentions to launch advertising space on FB, but he lacked connections so Mark swindled him out of his holdings thanks to some legal mumbo jumbo that Eduardo signed without reading. And at that time, Mark wasn’t so keen on the idea. People hate online ads, right?
It took Sean Parker, creator of Napster, to convince Mark to go global and see the dollar signs. Justin Timberlake played a good money grubbing pompous druggie dripping with sex and confidence, but if you have ever seen the real Sean Parker in an interview, he’s nothing like that. The real Parker admitted about the movie that he wished his life was that cool. Parker stepped in with the ad revenue connections and was given 6% holdings. Eduardo settled out of court for a lump sum probably larger than what the Winklevoss twins got. By now, like they say in the film, that was just a traffic ticket to Zuckerberg.
The characters, the storylines, and the hefty settlements are all true – the entire basis for the story and where Mark was when. By now you probably know its the conversations and turn of events that are fictional. Heck, haven’t we all seen movies “based on a true story” that weren’t even close. Who cares? It’s the gritty fast paced edge to the film that keeps it interesting. Face it, do we really care how a twenty-something year old Harvard geek became the world’s youngest billionaire? It’s a newsworthy story, yes, and most of us, almost all of us, are hooked on his social networking drug.
As the movie bounces in and out of legal meetings, we get lots of sarcastic one liners from Mark. The twins fight back with the chips on their shoulders. Eduardo hangs his head in shame at the loss of a friend. The movie definitely deserves the Oscar attention its getting. It’s different. It’s fresh. And if you are on Facebook, then make it some required viewing. It’s worth the time away from the computer.