By Megan Specia
Mark Zuckerberg wasn’t always the billionaire Internet mogul we know today. In 2006, just two years after Facebook‘s creator, Zuck was just another 20-something trying to make his way in the world wearing a hoodie.
CNN’s Business 2.0, a magazine that once lived as part of CNN Money, vastly underestimated his potential all those years ago, listing him as No. 10 on the list of “10 People Who Don’t Matter.” The site wrote off Zuckerberg’s “online social directory for college students” as a passing fad.
The piece also heralded MySpace as the most important player in the social media game, calling the network the “80-million-user gorilla” whose success Facebook was simply chasing.
In entrepreneurship, timing is everything. So we’ll give Zuckerberg credit for launching his online social directory for college students just as the social-networking craze was getting underway. He also built it right, quickly making Facebook one of the most popular social-networking sites on the Net. But there’s also something to be said for knowing when to take the money and run. Last spring, Facebook reportedly turned down a $750 million buyout offer, holding out instead for as much as $2 billion. Bad move. After selling itself to Rupert Murdoch’s Fox for $580 million last year, MySpace is now the Web’s second most popular website. Facebook is growing too – but given that MySpace has quickly grown into the industry’s 80-million-user gorilla, it’s hard to imagine who would pay billions for an also-ran.
The list keyed in on those who the site’s writers felt had passed their peaks, whose influences had waned, or whose true importance they felt was overstated.
“As respected as they might be for their past achievements, their best days are behind them,” the article stated.
Let’s flash forward to 2014. We all know how things worked out for the Facebook founder; in July,Bloomberg Billionaire’s Index reported that Zuckerberg was richer than Google cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Forbes cited Zuckerberg’s net worth as $34 billion in September.
But Business 2.0 article recently resurfaced, reminding us that everything on the Internet lasts forever.
The original story listed nine other nobodies, including Microsoft’s now-retired CEO Steve Ballmer, Jeffrey Citron of Vonage and Arun Sarin, former CEO of Vodafone.
The piece also dismissed Netflix as a passing fad, failing to predict that it would become the drug of choice for binge-watchers everywhere. Citing the decline of the DVD, Business 2.0 did not foresee the profitable pivot into on-demand watching. CEO Reed Hastings, one of CNN’s other “nobodies,” entered the billionaires club in June.