Review: The Social Network

Last night, Alex and I went to a preview showing of “The Social Network” at our local cinema. If you’ve not heard about this movie, its based on the book “The Accidental Billionaires”, which is the story about how Facebook was started. Normally when reviewing a film, I wouldn’t give away anything, just to say how much I enjoyed it, but with this one, you know the story already. What made it so interesting was the way that it was done.

The film starts with a breakup. Not the most usual start for a film, but it does set the scene to explain some of the later choices of Mark Zuckerberg makes. He goes back to his dorm room, and creates a sort of “hot or not” to compare the photos of other students, while blogging (on his LJ) about what he’s doing, and why he’s drunk at 10pm on a Tuesday. The site “Facemash” became a sucess, crashing the University network.

Three guys, Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss and their friend Divya Narendra noticed this prank, and recruited Zuckerberg into “helping” them create a website called HarvardConnect (later ConnectU) Zuckerberg then created TheFacebook, and it spread across Harvard to other big universities in the US, and later on in Europe.

In between scenes of how things happened back in 2003/2004, we are given shots from inside attorneys offices a few years later. The ConnectU team had a lawsuit against Zuckerberg claiming that he stole the idea for Facebook from them. From the film, it seems like he took their idea and built on it a bit more. But it could be argued that ConnectU was building on the ideas that led to MySpace and Friendster. The quote in the trailer sums it up.

“If [ConnectU] were the inventors of Facebook, [they]’d have invented Facebook.”

In a separate lawsuit, Zuckerbergs best friend Eduardo Saverin is suing him for losing shares, something that we don’t really find out until towards the end of the film. When more venture capitalists were brought in for funding, Saverin’s shares were diluted, but the other shareholders ones were not.

I really enjoyed the film. However, its not an action packed movie. I’m a bit of a business and company history geek, so it was interesting to see how this was brought to “the big screen”. Theres no eye candy (besides Justin Timberlake, zomg, girly fan squeal here. Couldn’t stop thinking about the parody of him from this episode of Star Stories, especially around the 7:28 mark) and its not really a comedy (although there are a few bits I laughed at) Even so, I would still recommend this film to non-business geeks. I think most people have heard some of this story before, and its interesting to see it reenacted.

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