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84 of 94 people found the following review helpful
on June 5, 2010
Remarkably detailed history of a unique company. Kirkpatrick, a scrupulous journalist, who was encouraged to write the book by Facebook's controversial founder, gives a detailed play-by-play of how Facebook amassed half a billion users. He provides a fascinating history of how the company was built, and manages to touch upon most of the controversies surrounding it. But, perhaps because of the access given to him by Zuckerberg, the founder and not-so-benevolent dictator running the company, he avoids any substantial critique of the actions and motivations of the facebook management team. Possibly because of the book's timing - it must have been completed in April or so - he doesn't address the company's most recent issues and, most importantly, he provides little insight to help the reader understand Zuckerberg and why and how he manages to get himself into so much trouble, particulary around the topic of user privacy, though we get plenty of anecdotes about his behavior and maturation. There is also very little reflection about where Internet advances, as exemplified by facebook, will take our economy or society. But this is still a "must read" for anyone interested in the evolution of the Internet and how facebook got here and managed to monopolize billions of hours of our collective attention.
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46 of 51 people found the following review helpful
on June 23, 2010
I've just finished reading The Facebook Effect, and it was like a movie I didn't want to end. I'm considering reading it again. As a budding internet startup entrepreneur, learning from major successes, such as Facebook, is incredibly valuable. The problem is, where can you learn about the juicy details that essentially positioned a company like Facebook to be so ubiquitous? Details such as:

- how Facebook gained so much traffic early on
- how they scaled the site school by school
- the major decisions Mark and his team grappled with at every stage
- the strategy and thought process that went through Zuckerberg's mind
- how they raised their first dollar of investment
- what sort of information did they pitch their first professional investors
- etc...

It includes everything that an internet startup entrepreneur would want to know, encapsulated in one of the world's most fascinating phenomenon -- The Facebook Effect.

Enjoy.
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38 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on June 15, 2010
Kirkpatrick was for years one of Fortune's best writers, and that talent is on full display here. He assesses the often broad and complex situations around facebook deftly, in accessible and subtle ways. But it's when he lets his interview subjects speak in their own words -- from founder to current and past executives to investors -- that the book really shines. It's better than a good book, it's an important book.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on November 1, 2010
I originally purchased this book because I thought it was required reading for someone like me who works in Silicon Valley. However, after a few chapters, I realized this could be one of the top ten business books of the decade and...it was fun to read.
Here is why I found it so enlightening:

-The book was filled with anecdotal stories of incredible financial and business growth challenges, potential technology disasters and public opinion/communication crises--that for the most, were handled swiftly and successfully. Valuable lessons learned were scattered throughout the book, cover to cover. The author made you feel like you were part of the team taking the company through its first five years of phenomenal growth.

-Mark Zuckerberg. You will learn about one of the most visionary CEOs of our time by the way he handled the above mentioned situations, his passion for transparency, philosophy on the "gift economy" and vision of global communication and via a number of direct quotes that the author chose to include (and noted below):

"The best thing we can do is to move smoothly with the world around us, and to have constant competition, not build walls."(commenting on the possible integration of Facebook across the Web)

"We're a vehicle that gives people the power to share information, so we are driving that trend. We also have to live by it." (commenting on user backlash and potential government intervention)

-Finally leveraging social media as a global communications platform; the book contains a bevy of inspirational examples of the potential for positive change--a glimpse into the future, that we should all be aware of.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on November 8, 2010
There are really two parts to this book: the story of how Facebook started and a general set of essays outlining the author's thoughts on the impact of Facebook and social media on society in general.
I suppose my slight issue with Kirkpatrick's offering is that the two different parts are somewhat intermingled and interfere somewhat in the flow of the Facebook story itself (which is really what I bought the book for). These story of Facebook's founding and growth are actually very interesting and paints a portrait of Zuckerberg that is both different and the same very to his recent film portrayal; different because he isn't portrayed as a sociopath here but the same because, well, it is pretty odd not to agree to walk away with $250M cash at age 22 for 2 years work. The "story" seems to peter out in around early 2009 and the rest of the book really focuses on the societal impact (or the author's interpretation of them).
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on January 17, 2011
I don't write many Amazon reviews but I felt this book deserved at least 5 stars - can I give it 6 stars? It's a really fun read, truly informative, seems balanced, and highlights a textbook case in how to do most things right, and combine with a historical amount of lucky timing to create one of the world's most successful companies - ever. And the book delves into the mistakes FB has made in a fair way. After reading this book I'm in awe of Zuckerberg, and I hadn't previously given him much thought. I truly hope people don't watch the recent film without considering reading this "counterpoint" book which I suspect is closer to the true story. But this book goes beyond the sensationalism of its topic to think longer term about facebook and the changes it illustrates to our society and how we communicate, make changes, do business etc. and is truly thought provoking. It's a great example of how a book can both educate and entertain and do a great job of both. It's one of the best books I've read in years.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on September 16, 2013
While David Kirkpatrick's "The Facebook Effect" provides an in depth scope of how Facebook was brainstormed, created, turned into the successful corporation that it is today, and sprinkles in all the behind the scenes drama, I was significantly underwhelmed. As I approached the book, I had envisioned a somewhat psychological and societal focus due to title of the book: "The Facebook EFFECT." As a member of Generation Y, I was most interested in learning about how this digital service is significantly impacting not only the individual users, but also the culture and the way new generations view society. Perhaps I am more disappointed because of the misleading title that Kirkpatrick gave the book, but that is an entirely different discussion altogether. Kirkpatrick's mission was to objectively tell the story of Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg and his pals, detailing the evolution over time, including partnerships, fallouts, challenges, and rewards.

Besides hearing the story from Zuckerberg himself, Kirkpatrick has compiled all of the essentials necessary for readers eager to learn about the rich history of Facebook. The book is a great resource for any reader, ranging from young fresh Facebook users hoping to get a history lesson to the Baby Boomers who have not caught on to the craze of Facebook yet, but wish to understand what the phenomenon is and how it has become so popular so quickly. I feel that I have successfully met Kirkpatrick's objective for The Facebook Effect. He did not propose any arguments, for his goal was to provide a detailed history of Facebook, which can be seen by the subtitle: "The Inside Story of the Company That Is Connecting the World."

However, Kirkpatrick writes the book in a way that it appears less like a history textbook and more like a fictional novel. How contradictory, right? Well, what I mean is that he creates developed characters out of these real people like Mark Zuckerberg and his business savvy collaborator Sean Parker. Kirkpatrick writes about how the characters feel about the events that happen throughout the creation of Facebook. For example, when Zuckerberg emotionally breaks down into tears amidst a meeting with potential investors early on, as a reader I actually felt like I understood how meaningful this project was to Zuckerberg. I realized that Facebook was more than just a business venture, and more like a child of Zuckerbergs's (123). Kirkpatrick could have easily condensed the book into a 60 page business memo, listing the events from Facebook's Harvard days to the present corporate days; however Kirkpatrick chooses to take the time to convince the reader how personally invested Zuckerberg still is in Facebook, ultimately explaining the reasons why Zukerberg and his team struggle with the idea of investment with other collaborates, in fear of losing everything that they worked so hard on for so long. When asked about how Zuckerberg will leave Facebook behind, he responds, "I spend my time thinking about how to build [Facebook] and not how to exit [...] I think what we're doing is better than anyone else" (139). Without Kirkpatrick's attention to detail and character development, it would be difficult to grasp Zuckerberg's stubbornness and resistance to let others take advantage of him and his creation.

A critique that I have of The Facebook Effect is how surprisingly dated the text is: Kirkpatrick published the book in 2010. How strange it is to claim that a book only three years old is dated; however, in a technological industry, three years makes a major difference. Perhaps its dated text explains why my most anticipated aspect of the book was touched upon so minimally. As I recall as a Facebook user in 2010, Facebook was still a growing phenomenon, but not quite the obsession that it appears to be in 2013. I have gradually come to realize how attached people have become to this website and its psychological side effects. If you search "psychological effects of Facebook" on the Internet, several articles written in 2013 will appear, including a BBC article discussing how Facebook can increase social isolation as well as decrease personal well being (BBC). This is an important issue that is neglected by society because of Facebook's pop culture significance. Kirkpatrick's "Facebook Effect" could benefit greatly from a revision, including a new section of research studies on the social impact on the individual user as well as society as a whole.

"The Facebook Effect" did have an effect on me, despite my dissatisfaction with the content. Learning about how the website was formed and seeing the progression from 100,000 users at select universities in America to 54 million users worldwide put into perspective how emotionally reliant this society has become on a mere website, something so intangible in its nature and the gratification it can provide users with. It helped me realize how much I use the website on a daily basis, and the satisfying relief that I am not emotionally attached to the website, but could be in the future if I don't make some changes soon. One person interviewed in the book claimed that Generation Y is "narcissistic [...] people painstakingly monitor their own Facebook to see what pictures they get tagged in, or what pictures would best represent them to their friends" (206). As I mature into an adult, ready to enter the workforce, I have learned how engrossed we can be as a society in getting others' approval; however, if there is no personal satisfaction, then how could someone else's satisfaction make a difference? I find great importance in this quote because I feel it represents the real effect that Facebook is having on users: the notion that one must constantly compete with his or her peers as well as gain social approval based on the profile that is created. I ultimately wish to change my own using habits so that I can keep a grasp on my own life and the things that surround me.

David Kirkpatrick's "The Facebook Effect" is loaded with rich history about the creation of the worldwide sensation known as Facebook. Similar to David Fincher's film The Social Network, this book provides readers with the behind the scenes look at the thought process and the relationships that influenced Mark Zuckerberg in his launching of Facebook. Although he provides a great narrative for readers to easily relate to and follow the main players, Kirkpatrick ultimately presents a sequence of events from 2003 to 2009, withholding any personal arguments about Facebook in general or the social impacts it is making on users. This lack of subjectivity in Kirkpatrick's presentation of the material is perhaps aided by the fact that the book was published in 2010, before the website became such an ingrained piece of society. The intense social effects that Facebook is making on users may not have been so evident in 2010 as it is in 2013, at least in my opinion as a Facebook user since 2009. Regardless, if audiences are looking to learn some history about a major societal impact, Kirkpatrick's The Facebook Effect will succeed in providing just that; however, if readers are searching for a critique of the website, both structurally and socially, then this book will likely disappoint
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Many of us use Facebook nearly every day, and some use it even more frequently. But how did this particular social network come to exist, and why is it now the most popular social network in the world?

Originally known as Thefacebook.com, it was launched on 4 February 2004 from Mark Zuckerberg's dormitory room at Harvard. In the beginning, it was only available to those with Harvard eMail addresses. From such small beginnings, the site has grown to have around 500 million members today.

In part of this book, David Kirkpatrick tells the story of the development and growth of Facebook from 2004 to 2010. The second part of the book includes chapters focussed on the place (and impact) of Facebook: `Facebook and the World'; `Changing our Institutions'; `The Evolution of Facebook'; and `The Future'.

David Kirkpatrick spoke with a number of those involved with the early development of Facebook, including Mark Zuckerberg. This account of how a group of students were able to envisage and deliver the phenomenon that is now Facebook makes for fascinating reading. The development of Facebook is a curious blend of vision, commitment and self-belief coupled with the ability (mostly presented as Zuckerman's) to access advice from dot.com veterans where required.

To illustrate the impact of Facebook, the book opens with an account of how Oscar Morales, a civil engineer from Barranquilla, Colombia, formed a Facebook group in 2008 protesting the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. This Facebook activity quickly inspired massive, real-life protests against the leftist rebels. Yes, it's a dramatic illustration of how, in just a few years, Facebook has impacted on people and institutions around the world, by providing another effective communication medium.
Kirkpatrick then returns to Zuckerberg in late 2003 when he was experimenting with a number of online projects. But it was The Facebook that really took off, spreading quickly through the Harvard student body. Then, Zuckerberg and co-founders Dustin Moskovitz, Chris Hughes and Eduardo Saverin rolled The Facebook out to other schools. In 2006, the site was expanded to the non-school population.

The first part of the book provides a fascinating corporate history of Facebook, largely from the perspective of Mark Zuckerberg. The second part of the book is focussed on the impact of Facebook and raises some of the issues that need to be considered as the site continues to grow in coverage and popularity.

As Facebook itself is dynamic and continually evolving, its story will continue to unfold. There are a number of issues in the development and use of Facebook that all of us who participate in it should be mindful of. And, too, there is a sense that there are other versions of the Facebook story still to be told.

The book is not without its flaws but it is well worth reading for those who want to know more about the development and impact of one of the most popular internet sites in the world.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on October 10, 2010
It's hard to comprehend an internet user who hasn't heard of Facebook, sure there are many out there who don't feel the need to use the application, and some who stubbornly resist signing up for various reasons (usually privacy fears or strange phobias of their friendships being somehow changed irreparably by the experience) but the chances are that if you've logged onto the World Wide Web you're familiar with the phenomenon known as Facebook.

In this work, Kirkpatrick takes us through a candid journey with Mark Zuckerberg, the brains behind the whole thing. It's a surprising journey in many ways, for one thing - compared to other `phenomenon' entrepreneurial tales, Facebook's is quite short, spanning barely more than half a decade. Despite this, there is more than enough material for a full non-fiction book, (and a feature length film.)

Most of the information for The Facebook Effect is straight from Zuckerberg himself, who like his creation, is open to sharing details of his personal and professional life with anyone who cares to see them. That is except for the specific details of a few lawsuits brought against Zuckerberg for theft of ideas - which unfortunately for us curious readers, were settled with confidentiality agreements meaning we'll likely never know the exact details of what went down behind closed doors.

The Facebook Effect, is really a story of delirious success, both financial and world changing. Even for those not so keen on geekery and computers, the political wrangling of the company supplies plenty of drama. For those heavily into Facebook, or at least who have been keeping up with the web app's changes over the past few years, you'll enjoy reading about the developments you've already experienced from the side of the developers - in particular I loved the irony when the `newsfeed' was added it allowed users easy access to groups they might want to join, which promptly lead to mass numbers joining anti-newsfeed groups.

Love it or leave it, Facebook has done what Zuckerberg intended it to - it has changed the way we conduct our social relationships - and thus changed society itself. Employees, employers and public figures are re-evaluating how they manage their very public profiles on Facebook, with some pundits predicting that rather than people tending towards circumspect and professional Facebook profiles, society will just come to accept that Facebook will reveal certain aspects of our lives that we don't necessarily want public, and not judge too harshly. Even if you don't have a profile yourself, there is no way you can prevent others from posting photos of you, or revealing personal information about yourself (although one might question why said acquaintance is doing so) so perhaps a society that doesn't judge our drunken photos too harshly is more preferable to trying desperately to keep such things from the internet.

My only real criticism of this book is it left me wishing that I had a college friend on the verge of creating a billion dollar company who just needed a small amount of investment to get started - and that I got to be one of those lucky fools who gave thousands only to have the investment return in the millions...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 21, 2011
Book review by Richard L. Weaver II, Ph.D.

If you want to know every detail about how Facebook began, how it evolved, and why it is the entity that it is today, then this is the book for you. Some readers will love the minutia; other readers will want less -- in the end it is a terrific story told in an interesting and engaging manner. (There are 13 pages of notes. Having lived in Amherst, Massachusetts, for six years, footnote #207 refers to Amherst Regional High School and an article in the Amherst Bulletin from 2009, which the author found online.)

If you are "a budding internet startup entrepreneur" then you must read this book first. It will give you so much essential information for setting up a website and establishing it as a "presence" in the cyberworld, you will not believe it.

Andre L. Charoo of San Francisco, a reviewer of the book at Amazon.com writes that the book includes "details such as:
- how Facebook gained so much traffic early on
- how they scaled the site school by school
- the major decisions Mark and his team grappled with at every stage
- the strategy and thought process that went through Zuckerberg's mind
- how they raised their first dollar of investment
- what sort of information did they pitch their first professional investors
- etc..."

The reviews for the book are outstanding. David Ford "Dave Ford Does Earth," from New York writes: "I saw David speak at a Digital Breakfast in New York City a few weeks ago and afterwards decided to buy his book. 10 days later I finished the book and have such a better idea of how Facebook came to be, where they are now, and where they are going in the future. His unprecedented access to Facebook insiders give a distinct and different perception of what happened and happens behind the walls at Facebook.

"Unlike many other books about Facebook, Zuckerberg is not painted as the villain. Instead, you get a sense of the tremendous responsibility this 25 year old has not only to his company, but to the world.

"My favorite parts involve the "sometimes lucky" corporate political maneuvering that allowed Zuckerberg to follow his vision, and how Facebook emerged in the middle of the battle between Google and Microsoft. I'd highly recommend this book. Its a page turner and chock full of insider knowledge about Facebook and the insiders of Silicon Valley."

M. Clarke of Greenwich, Connecticut, sums up my feelings about this book in his short review at Amazon.com: "Kirkpatrick was for years one of Fortune's best writers, and that talent is on full display here. He assesses the often broad and complex situations around facebook deftly, in accessible and subtle ways. But it's when he lets his interview subjects speak in their own words -- from founder to current and past executives to investors -- that the book really shines. It's better than a good book, it's an important book."

The problem with this book is that each story that Kirkpatrick tells leads to his next story, and each story is thoroughly engaging. Once you get started in this book, you won't be able to put it down. It's that good.
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