Cover of the first edition
|July 14, 2009|
The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius, and Betrayal is a 2009 book by Ben Mezrich about the founding of Facebook, adapted by Columbia Pictures for the 2010 film The Social Network. Co-founder Eduardo Saverin served as Mezrich's main consultant. Mark Zuckerberg declined to speak with Ben Mezrich while the book was being researched and after Zuckerberg and Saverin settled their lawsuit, Saverin broke off contact with the author.
Ben Mezrich maintains that the book is not a work of fiction despite his narrative style of writing. Some of his main sources are his conversations with Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin and the court documents made available to him because of "all these college kids suing each other", in his own words.
The story begins a few weeks preceding the launch of "thefacebook.com" in Harvard. Eduardo Saverin, cast as the protagonist, befriends Mark Zuckerberg, and both struggle for social acceptance—Saverin by joining a Final club, and Zuckerberg by creating a website where girls can be ranked according to their looks. Zuckerberg's stunt, though successful, puts him at odds with the Harvard Administrative Board, and has angered numerous campus women's groups, as well as individual female students. He does get noticed by Harvard seniors, the Winklevoss twins Cameron and Tyler and Divya Narendra who are trying to launch a dating site. The trio approach Zuckerberg and convince him to join in. However, Zuckerberg sees that their site does not have what he thinks is the right approach and starts to develop thefacebook.com with some help from Saverin and Zuckerberg's roommates.
Once thefacebook.com is launched it becomes an instant hit on campus and infuriates the Winklevoss twins and Narendra, who were kept out of the loop. The story then narrates the changing relationship between Saverin and Zuckerberg, who have different methods of operating.
While the first half of the book centers on the Harvard University campus and focuses on college life, the second half centers on business in Silicon Valley. Sean Parker of Napster fame becomes a mentor to Zuckerberg and guides him through Silicon Valley venture capitalists and other players in the industry. Saverin, while completing his graduation, continues to feel sidelined by Parker, who he feels is not the best influence on Zuckerberg.
The end of the book cannot provide a conclusion since, according to the author's admission, matters are ongoing in the court of law. However, it does close a chapter in the Facebook story.
Columbia Pictures released a film adaptation of the book in 2010 titled The Social Network. The film was directed by David Fincher with the screenplay written by Aaron Sorkin, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. The film starred Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, and Justin Timberlake.