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The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company That Is Connecting the World Hardcover – June 8, 2010

4.3 out of 5 stars 145 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

There's never been a Web site like Facebook: more than 350 million people have accounts, and if the growth rate continues, by 2013 every Internet user worldwide will have his or her own page. And no one's had more access to the inner workings of the phenomenon than Kirkpatrick, a senior tech writer at Fortune magazine. Written with the full cooperation of founder Mark Zuckerberg, the book follows the company from its genesis in a Harvard dorm room through its successes over Friendster and MySpace, the expansion of the user base, and Zuckerberg's refusal to sell. The author is at his best discussing the social implications of the site, from the changing notions of privacy to why and how people use Facebook—increasingly it's to come together around a common interest or cause (the eponymous Facebook Effect). Though significantly more informative, thoughtful, and credible than Ben Mezrich's The Accidental Billionaires, it may be hamstrung by its late entry; the furor over Facebook has more or less subsided, and potential readers are more likely to be using the site than to be reading about its origins. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* The greatest measure of the appeal of a business narrative is its story-ability, that is, the ways in which the tale of a corporation’s ups and downs grabs its readers. Such is the case with Fortune magazine journalist Kirkpatrick’s look at Facebook and its growth. The reason? In part because its co-founder now CEO Mark Zuckerberg allowed almost unprecedented access to the author––not one but several times. The results seems to mirror Zuckerberg’s insistence on an “open and transparent” dialogue with itself and with its customers. Starting from a 2003 Harvard campus Web site created to keep track of schoolmates, Facebook has grown in less than a decade to nearly a half billion users and multimillions in revenues, a growth trajectory credited to its C-suite’s unwavering vision and its continual innovations––including News Feed, multiple applications, and self-service advertising. Talented people, too, add to the explosion that is Facebook; Kirkpatrick’s pages are populated with names like Steve Ballmer, Lawrence Summers, Larry Brin, and lesser-known others who’ve contributed to this social networking phenomenon. Kirkpatrick also keeps his superlatives in check, weaving stories about Zuckerberg and his cadre while clearly showing the warts as well. An intriguing, almost participatory, read. --Barbara Jacobs

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (June 8, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439102112
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439102114
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (145 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #454,337 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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Format: Hardcover
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.

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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Format: Hardcover
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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