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Mark Zuckerberg

Paul Ceglia, a New York businessman, has been charged with trying to defraud Facebook by claiming he was owed a 50% share of the social media company, prosecutors say.

Paul Ceglia, 39, is accused of fabricating and destroying evidence in a lawsuit asking for half-ownership of the firm.

Arrested at his home in Wellsville, New York, Paul Ceglia was due in court on Friday afternoon.

Attorney Preet Bharara said the entrepreneur had been chasing a “quick payday based on a blatant forgery”.

In 2003, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, then a Harvard University student, agreed to do programming work for Paul Ceglia and his fax business, say prosecutors.

Paul Ceglia is accused of fabricating and destroying evidence in a lawsuit asking for half-ownership of Facebook

Paul Ceglia is accused of fabricating and destroying evidence in a lawsuit asking for half-ownership of Facebook

Paul Ceglia later filed his lawsuit claiming that he and Mark Zuckerberg had signed a two-page contract awarding him a 50% stake in Facebook.

But Mark Zuckerberg said he had not yet conceived the idea for the social network at the time.

Facebook’s lawyers said the contract that Paul Ceglia and Mark Zuckerberg signed in 2003 was to develop street-mapping software.

Paul Ceglia subsequently doctored the document to insert Facebook references, it is alleged.

 

Facebook has now surpassed one billion people using it every month, the company has said.

The passing of the milestone was announced by founder Mark Zuckerberg on US television on Thursday.

The company said that those billion users were to date responsible for 1.13 trillion “likes”, 219 billion photos and 17 billion location check-ins.

The site, which was launched in 2004, is now looking towards emerging markets to build its user base further.

“If you’re reading this: thank you for giving me and my little team the honor of serving you,” Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a status update.

“Helping a billion people connect is amazing, humbling and by far the thing I am most proud of in my life.”

Statistics released to coincide with the announcement revealed there were now 600 million users accessing the site via a mobile device – up 48 million from 552 million in June this year.

Since its early beginnings at Harvard University, Facebook users have befriended each other 140.3 billion times.

Sustained growth is seen as crucial if Facebook is to maintain its value – the company has seen its share price drop to about $22 from a starting price of $38.

Investors will expect the company to look at ways to make more from the users it already has as well as seeking to attract new users in areas of the world where it does not yet dominate.

“For Facebook the main challenge is not just to grow in terms of numbers, but more importantly to deepen and enrich engagements,” said Eden Zoller, principal analyst at tech research firm Ovum.

Although the service is by far the world’s biggest social network, there are key areas, such as China and Russia, where local competitors still remain the online networking tool of choice.

Last month, Mark Zuckerberg visited Moscow, where he made his first TV chat show appearance, as well as a highly publicized meeting with the Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev.

It was a public-relations exercise designed to unsettle VKontakte – a network that boasts in excess of 300 million members, compared with Facebook’s seven million, in the country.

In the same trip, Mark Zuckerberg made a “surprise” visit to one of the company’s arranged hack-a-thons to meet local developers.

Other trips include to China, where the company said it was busy “watching and learning” from other internet firms.

Google, which launched in China in 2005, faced fierce criticism when it agreed to allow censorship of search results. It later changed its stance, and now directs all of its traffic through its Hong Kong-based site.

Success for Facebook in China would mean unseating RenRen (more than 30 million users) and possibly the Twitter-like service Sina Weibo (more than 300 million users).

In Africa, Facebook has targeted the use of basic phones – known widely as “feature phones” – which are unable to display the full-featured site, but instead can use specially created variations of the network.

Specifically, a project called Facebook for Every Phone, which was launched following the company’s acquisition of feature-phone specialists Snaptu, is central to its growth strategy in the region.

“Facebook is doing very well in Africa,” said Erik Hersman, a Kenyan-based blogger.

“You even see people using it in the rural areas – often people will ask for a phone with Facebook on it, not caring/knowing about the internet at all.”

There are considerable monetization opportunities too. The continent has, at a pace far outstripping the west, adopted mobile payment systems in huge numbers – more than 15 million in Kenya alone.

In developed markets, one path to better engagement with users could be through new features that make use of Facebook’s vast quantities of personal data about each of its members.

In recent weeks, Facebook has been looking to monitor the real-world effects of advertising on the platform.

These efforts are key if the company is to convince businesses that investing in the platform is not a waste of money – recent admissions over “fake” users and have dented the site’s credibility.

It has enlisted the help of US market research firm Datalogix to try to produce evidence that seeing an advert on Facebook – without necessarily clicking on it – is enough of an engagement to get people buying products in shops.

However, this vast data bank is tricky to utilize, according to Ovum’s Eden Zoller.

“There’s no doubt that Facebook is sitting on a potential goldmine of customer data,” she said.

“But that goldmine can also be a minefield. We know that Facebook, despite its claims to the contrary, constantly pushes the boundaries of what’s seen as acceptable in regards to data privacy.”

This goldmine could swell further. In the UK, ministers are said to be considering using Facebook, among other services, to act as official identification for accessing public services online.

Such advancements are being noted by data regulators. In Europe in particular, Facebook has been faced with increased demands to tighten data privacy practices.

The company, which has based its European headquarters in Ireland, was last month told by the Irish Data Protection Commissioner, Billy Hawkes, that it must amend its Phototag feature – a tool powered by facial recognition software.

Following an extensive audit, the commission also sought extra assurances from Facebook over issues surrounding account deletion and targeted advertising.

As it continues to innovate and evolve, the company would need to get used to finding itself audited and investigated, said Eden Zoller.

“They’re so high-profile,” she said.

“They’re a bit of a poster boy, but they could be a whipping boy if they’re not careful.”

Facebook evolution

Facebook at one billion:

• Median user age: 22

• Top countries (alphabetical order): Brazil, India, Indonesia, Mexico, United States

• Mobile users: 600 million

At 500 million (July 2010):

• Median user age: 23

• Top countries: Brazil, India, Indonesia, Mexico, United States

• Users who joined the site at this point now have an average of 305 friends

At 100 million (August 2008):

• Median user age: 23

• Top countries: Chile, France, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States

• Users who joined the site at this point now have an average of 334 friends

At 50 million (October 2007):

• Median user age: 26

• Top countries: Australia, Canada, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States

• Users who joined the site at this point now have an average of 321 friends

At 25 million (January 2006):

• Median user age: 19

• Top countries: Australia, Canada, Germany, United Kingdom, United States

• Users who joined the site at this point now have an average of 598 friends

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Noah Kagan, one of Facebook’s first ever employees, was forced to leave the up-and-coming social network in 2006, and he missed out on a payday which could have totaled $100 million.

Noah Kagan, who is now running online startup AppSumo, was the 30th employee at Facebook when he was hired by founder Mark Zuckerberg as a product manager.

At the time, Facebook was a scrappy newcomer – Noah Kagan says: “Most decisions were me walking over to Mark’s desk for approval.”

And many employees were deeply devoted to the company – not least the young project manager who had graduated from Berkeley two years earlier.

“Facebook was my entire life,” he writes in the blog post explaining how he came to be fired.

“My social circle, my validation, my identity and everything was tied to this company.”

Noah Kagan also pays tribute to his fellow employees, most of whom were graduates of – or dropouts from – elite Ivy League universities.

“I’ve NEVER been around such smart people,” he says.

“I’ve never felt so consistent like I wasn’t the smartest person in the room.”

However, while he may have been enjoying his time at Facebook, Noah Kagan was apparently not always the most popular figure in the room.

“I wanted attention, I put myself before Facebook,” he says.

“I hosted events at the office, published things on this blog to get attention and used the brand more than I added to it.”

Moreover, as the firm grew, it changed from an entrepreneurial organization to more of a bureaucratic behemoth – and Noah Kagan failed to change with it.

He writes on his blog of his frustration at having to go through a secretary every time he wanted to see Mark Zuckerberg, and admits that in big meetings he “zoned the f*** out”.

But the last straw was when Facebook changed its membership policy to allow non-students to have accounts, and Noah Kagan leaked the information to a journalist.

While partying at the Coachella festival, he emailed a contact asking him to publicize the information as soon as the change was made the next day – but the journalist wrote a story on it that same night.

Noah Kagan was called in for a meeting with Matt Cohler, then Facebook’s head of product management, and told that he had become a “liability” to the company after eight months working there.

He was marched back to the office, where he had his telephone and computer taken away.

At the time he was devastated, and he now claims that it took him a year to get over the pain of rejection.

You might think that that pain would only have got worse over the years, as Facebook grew and this year’s IPO turned many of its earliest employees into multi-millionaires.

Yet even though he estimates he could have earned $100 million if he had stayed at the company, Noah Kagan insists he has no regrets.

Having worked at web firms such as Mint.com and KickFlip before starting AppSumo, he says of his departure from Facebook: “It is what it is.”

“Ultimately, I appreciate where I am now and all the experiences I got from NOT being there.”

 

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Technology titan Bill Gates has been listed by Forbes magazine as the wealthiest American for the 19th year in a row, with a fortune of $66 billion, up $7 billion from last year.

There was no change in the order of the top five richest from a year earlier.

The total wealth of the US super-rich grew 13% to $1.7 trillion, with the top 400 worth an average $400 million more in 2012.

The group’s assets are worth as much as one eighth of the US economy, and grew much faster than the economy at large.

Bill Gates has been listed by Forbes magazine as the wealthiest American for the 19th year in a row

Bill Gates has been listed by Forbes magazine as the wealthiest American for the 19th year in a row

According to the Forbes 400 list of the richest people in America, the average net worth of a person on the list was $4.2 billion.

In second place with a fortune of $46 billion was investment guru Warren Buffett, who is chairman and chief executive of the insurance conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway.

He was followed by Larry Ellison, head of software maker Oracle Corp, worth $41 billion.

David and Charles Koch of the energy and chemical business group Koch Industries were tied in fourth place with $31 billion.

The majority of those on Forbes‘ list became richer in 2012. Two hundred and forty-one members of the group saw their wealth increase, while just 66 saw it shrink.

Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and financier George Soros dropped from the ranks of the top 10 into 12th place compared with a year ago.

But the biggest drop was seen by Facebook founder and chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, who fell from 14th to 36th place in the wake of a disappointing stock market listing of his company.

He lost nearly half his fortune, which is now worth an estimated $9.4 billion.

Four members of one family – the heirs to the Walmart fortune – are in the top 10.

Top 10 Forbes list:

1. Bill Gates, co-founder and chairman of Microsoft, $66 billion

2. Warren Buffett, chairman and chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway, $46 billion

3. Larry Ellison, co-founder and chief executive of Oracle, $41 billion

4. Charles Koch, chairman and chief executive of Koch Industries, $31 billion

5. David Koch, co-owner and executive vice-president of Koch Industries, $31 billion

6. Christy Walton & family, heiress to Walmart fortune, $27.9 billion

7. Jim Walton, heir to Walmart fortune and chairman of Arvest Bank, $26.8 billion

8. Alice Walton, heiress to Walmart fortune, $26.3 billion

9. S Robson Walton, heir to Walmart fortune, $26.1 billion

10. Michael Bloomberg, founder and principal owner of Bloomberg LP, $25 billion.

 

Mark Zuckerberg, the boss of social network Facebook, has spoken for the first time of the drop in his company’s market value.

Mark Zuckerberg called the drop in his firm’s value “disappointing”. The value of its shares is almost half the $38 debut price in May.

But he vowed that Facebook will make more money on phones than on desktops.

“Over the next three to five years, the biggest question on everyone’s mind is really going to be how well Facebook does with mobile.”

Speaking at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco, Mark Zuckerberg said: “Literally, six months ago we didn’t have an ad on mobile.”

 

Speaking at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco, Mark Zuckerberg called the drop in Facebook's value disappointing

Speaking at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco, Mark Zuckerberg called the drop in Facebook's value disappointing

Earlier this year, Facebook launched native apps for Apple’s iOS smartphones and its Android rival by Google.

“Ads have to be more integrated into the product on mobile,” Mark Zuckerberg said.

In another exchange, he joked: “Everything I do breaks, but I fix it quickly.”

Facebook is the world’s most popular social network with 950 million users.

When asked of constant rumors that he was building a Facebook phone, he rejected the speculation and pointed to the site’s huge reach.

“If we make a phone we could get maybe 10 million users? Twelve million users? That doesn’t move the needle for us.

“Building a phone is the wrong strategy for us.”

He admitted the fall in Facebook’s share price had made it harder to find and retain staff.

“It doesn’t help,” he said.

“There are tons of people that are super-pessimistic,” Mark Zuckerberg said.

“I would personally rather be underestimated. It gives us latitude to go out and make some big bets.”

Since their debut at $38 in May, Facebook shares have lost 49% of their value. They closed at $19.43 on Tuesday.

Mark Zuckerberg owns about 444 million Facebook shares plus an option to issue another 60 million.

Last month, Peter Thiel, a venture capitalist and one of Facebook’s earliest backers, sold much of his stake and made more than $1 billion in total from his investment.

 

The internet is abuzz after pictures of Mark Zuckerberg emerged as we have never seen him before – topless and hanging out with a load of other topless guys.

TMZ posted the picture today which shows Mark Zuckerberg caressing his hairy – and quite buff – chest while obviously having a very good time cavorting with the other men.

The jury is out on what exactly is going on in the picture or where it was taken and Facebook have yet to respond to a request for comment.

The photo surfaced on the image-sharing site imgur, posted anonymously by someone who says they screen grabbed it from Facebook.

They claim the picture was “accidentally posted” by Facebook Director of Engineering Andrew Bosworth – who is seen also topless at the far right of the picture sporting a very masculine hat and bow tie combo.

Andrew Bosworth allegedly deleted the picture “seconds later”, but obviously not fast enough, as someone was able to capture it and make it available to the world wide web.

If this was an accident, many Facebook users will find something bitter sweet about the leak after Mark Zuckerberg and his team have repeatedly changed the site’s privacy settings over the years, which included claiming the rights to all pictures posted on the social networking site.

On the other hand, the picture isn’t going to do Mark Zuckerberg’s image any harm. After all appearing quite buff – for a computer nerd – hanging out shirtless with a few similarly shirtless friends shows the billionaire is just like everyone else, right?

Mark Zuckerberg caressing his hairy chest while obviously having a very good time cavorting with the other topless men

Mark Zuckerberg caressing his hairy chest while obviously having a very good time cavorting with the other topless men

Coincidentally, the picture has emerged on the same day the Federal Trade Commission voted to finalize its settlement with Facebook, resolving charges that the social network exposed details about users’ lives without getting the required legal consent.

Facebook Inc. didn’t admit wrongdoing, but agreed to submit to government audits of its privacy practices every other year for the next two decades.

The company also committed to getting explicit approval from users before changing the types of content it makes public.

The settlement, announced in November, is similar to agreements the FTC reached separately with Google Inc. and Myspace.

The FTC approved the settlement Friday after a public comment period. It came a day after the FTC fined Google $22.5 million to resolve allegations that Google didn’t comply with the earlier settlement.

Both Facebook and Google have vast amounts of data on their users – Facebook through the things people share on the site, and Google through the searches and other things people do.

Such information is valuable because it can be used to improve the lucrative targeted advertising pitches that both companies aim at users.

Over the years, Facebook has been pushing users to voluntary share more about themselves. That ultimately encourages users and their friends to spend more time on the site, which in turn allows Facebook to sell more ads.

Although Facebook boasts that it gives users a variety of software settings so they can decide which photos, links and updates to share with whom, the company changes those options on a regular basis.

Much of the FTC’s complaint against Facebook centers on a series of changes that the company made to its privacy controls in late 2009.

The revisions automatically shared information and pictures about Facebook users, even if they previously programmed their privacy settings to shield the content.

Among other things, people’s profile pictures, lists of online friends and political views were suddenly available for the world to see, the FTC alleged.

The complaint also charges that Facebook shared its users’ personal information with third-party advertisers from September 2008 through May 2010 despite several public assurances from company officials that it wasn’t passing the data along for marketing purposes.

Facebook believes that happened only in limited instances, generally when users clicked on ads that appeared on their personal profile pages.

Most of Facebook’s users click on ads when they are on their “Wall” – a section that highlights their friends’ posts – or while visiting someone else’s profile page.

Under the settlement, Facebook must get explicit consent – a process known as “opting in” – before making changes that override existing privacy preferences.

The company also may not make misrepresentations about the privacy or security of users’ personal information – a broad clause that led to Google’s fine on Thursday.

Violations will be subject to civil penalties of up to $16,000 per day for each infringement.

Facebook had no comment beyond a statement that it is pleased the settlement received final approval.

The company’s stock gained 52 cents, or 2.5%, to $21.53 in midday trading Friday. Facebook, based in Menlo Park, California, began trading publicly in mid-May, after the settlement with the FTC was reached.

 

Amid a flurry of lawsuits over Facebook’s IPO, Morgan Stanley, the company’s top underwriter, says it’s prepared to pay back investors who were burned when they bought shares.

Morgan Stanley announced in a memo on Wednesday that it is reviewing Facebook trades and would adjust prices for some retail customers who overpaid.

The IPO mishaps have sparked numerous lawsuits against Morgan Stanley, the NASDAQ stock exchange and Facebook itself by shareholders who claimed they hid the social networking company’s weakened growth forecasts just before it went public.

The allegations raised questions about whether top investors profited at the expense of smaller buyers.

Meanwhile, Facebook is in talks with the New York Stock Exchange to move its stock from the NASDAQ Stock Market after the botched IPO on Friday, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

Facebook’s much-anticipated IPO was delayed by a half-hour on Friday because of technical glitches on the NASDAQ.

Morgan Stanley announced in a memo on Wednesday that it is reviewing Facebook trades and would adjust prices for some retail customers who overpaid

Morgan Stanley announced in a memo on Wednesday that it is reviewing Facebook trades and would adjust prices for some retail customers who overpaid

After pricing at $38, Facebook’s stock closed up 23 cents on Friday and has been down since. On Wednesday, it closed up $1, at $32, still down nearly 16% from the IPO price.

NYSE declined to comment.

The news comes as even Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg dumped his own shares in the company, making $1.13 billion as the stock nosedived, according to company filings.

On Wednesday, shareholders filed a lawsuit against Facebook and the banks behind the company’s stock, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs.

Additionally, both the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority have begun looking into the matter.

The U.S. Senate Banking Committee has also launched an inquiry and the state of Massachusetts has subpenaed Morgan Stanley, demanding answers.

The House Financial Services Committee said that it was also gathering information for their own review.

Facebook stock rose 3.3% in trading on Wednesday, rising to $32 a share.

However, a new analysis said the stock could fall to as low as $9.59.

That’s a far cry from the $37.58 that Zuckerberg fetched for 30.2 million shares he unloaded on Friday.

By the end of trading on Tuesday however the price had dropped to $31 meaning Zuckerberg saved himself a cool $174 million by getting out early.

Mark Zuckerberg, 28, still holds a vast amount of Facebook stock but his decision to sell off so much will leave investors wondering about his confidence in the company.

The drop is based around the realization that Facebook might not be growing as quickly as initially thought. And the company’s second-quarter growth will likely fall short of expectations as fewer new users join the social networking giant.

Shareholders filed a lawsuit on Wednesday, alleging that Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook and the banks that backed the Initial Public Offering, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, knew this information, but weren’t forthcoming with it.

On Tuesday, Reuters revealed that the banks’ analysts downgraded their estimates about the future earnings of the company while they were rolling out the IPO.

Business Insider called the move “unprecedented”.

Furthermore, the website reported that the banks revealed to privileged major investors that the share price was likely to tank, but left smaller stock buyers in the dark about this information.

The Securities and Exchange commission is investigating these allegations and the state of Massachusetts has filed a subpoena demanding Morgan Stanley release information about the IPO.

 

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Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his long-time girlfriend Priscilla Chan tied the knot at a small ceremony at his home in Palo Alto, California, a day after $104 billion IPO.

Priscilla Chan, 27, also had a busy week, graduating from medical school on Monday, as Zuckerberg marked his 28th birthday.

The guests believed they were going to celebrate Priscilla Chan’s graduation – but found they were at a wedding instead.

The wedding ring, a “very simple ruby”, was designed by Mark Zuckerberg.

Mark Zuckerberg weds Priscilla Chan in secret ceremony after $104 bn IPO

Mark Zuckerberg weds Priscilla Chan in secret ceremony after $104 bn IPO

Nine years ago the pair met at Harvard, where Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook in 2004.

They later moved to California, where Facebook has its headquarters, and Priscilla Chan studied at the medical school of the University of California, San Francisco.

Facebook’s valuation after its flotation on Friday means the social network site is worth about the same as internet shopping giant Amazon, and more than the value of stalwarts such as Disney.

Even after the flotation, Mark Zuckerberg continues to control just under 56% of the voting power of the company.