Mark Zuckerberg is startlingly young for a billionaire CEO. But he was even less mature in 2003 when, barely 19, he apparently set up a Friendster profile disclosing his taste for Asian women and dislike of books.
This Mark Zuckerberg profile on the pioneering but ill-fated social network is listed as having been established in July 2003, and is linked to a variety of known Zuckerberg buddies, including former Facebook president Sean Parker (dig the hair), former Facebook CTO Adam D'Angelo and former Facebook Design Strategy Lead Aaron Sittig. Those accounts, in turn, are linked to a significant number of fully-fleshed, authentic profiles of various Silicon Valley personalities; 166 buddies in Parker's case.
The Zuckerberg profile, in other words, would be very tough to fake. Even the sometime prankster who originally rediscovered the site yesterday, Matt Cornell, is "willing to bet this is the real deal... it was created seven years ago, before he was famous."
Indeed, Zuckerberg was six months away from launching Facebook when he inaugurated his Friendster profile. He was, in fact, closer to becoming the Harvard sophomore who launched Facemash, a much more crude piece of social software that asked fellow students to rank Harvard girls by attractiveness.
This younger Zuckerberg listed "Asian girls" amid other interests like programming, playing guitar, quoting Top Gun and "defeating nemeses." It's unlikely Zuckerberg's present girlfriend, medical school student and fellow Harvard alum Pricilla Chan, would have found that bit of naked fetishization particularly charming, even accounting for the fact that it was likely posted under the heading "interests" rather than the field's new title, "What I enjoy doing," which renders the dating preference even cruder. Luckily for Zuckerberg, by the time he met Chan Friendster was already passé.
Zuckerberg seems to have kept the profile updated through at least summer 2004, when he relocated to Palo Alto to expand Facebook, but with the intention of returning to Harvard. "I go to harvard but i play at stanford," he wrote in the "other education" section. But the soon-to-be college dropout may also have betrayed some qualms about the looming prospect of frenzied, risky, startup life, listing "bad life decisions" among his pursuits.
Not that college is necessarily the best course for a student who writes "I don't read" in his books section. In fairness, Zuckerberg, now 26, does list the science fiction touchstone "Ender's Game" as the lone entry on the "Books" section of his current Facebook profile. And he was a computer science student, albeit one who, at an elite liberal arts school like Harvard, was supposed to be well rounded.
At least the budding executive championed the "free flow of information," a position that will come as a surprise to people who can't meaningfully export their social graph from Facebook today. Cornell, too, chortles at that position; his Facebook profile has been disabled and he's been unable to get any information out of the company.
Zuckerberg's profile, like the rest of Friendster, stands as an online time capsule of what he was like six or seven years ago rather than as a live window into his life. He was, like most undergraduate underclassmen, capable of being thoroughly obnoxious, particularly online. The difference between him his fellow students, of course, is that he would soon be shepherding the most intimate digital moments of hundreds of millions of fellow humans. Given the Friendster profile excerpted below, that's both a testament to the speed of Zuckerberg's personal development and a little bit scary.