I do not review books often, and I just want to specify that I may be somewhat biased in this review. Why? Not because I was paid (I wasn’t!) to write it but rather because this book was written by Ben Mezrich, my favourite author. A few years ago, I was in the airport in Melbourne, Australia looking for some entertainment before a long flight back to Canada when I found a book entitled “Ugly Americans“. No, it is not about Americans in general but rather about the culture that existed for American traders that worked in Japan during the mid-90s. It was a fascinating book and remains my favourite one written by Ben Mezrich. However, there have been many others written since then (Busting Vegas, 21: Bringing Down the House, Rigged, etc) and the latest one is “Accidental Billionaires“. So this is not a neutral review; I loved the book, as I have with all other Ben Mezrich books.
That being said, Accidental Billionaires is the story behind Facebook, viewed by many as the new kings of the web right beside Google. Who was behind the idea? In what circumstances was it created? How did the people that worked with founder Mark Zuckerberg end up? It really is a fascinating story for anyone who has been involved or is simply curious about the culture behind the techno start-ups. I’m sure that Google, Facebook and other tech companies each have their unique story but the book still gives us a fairly good idea of how things go from a part time gig run by a few students to a venture capital backed company and eventually what will become a listed company.
Anyone who has been around tech news knows that the story behind Facebook is not all glamour and honesty. Ben Mezrich does an excellent research job to find out what has happened and to report in an accurate portrayal of how things went down. You almost feel like you were Mark Zuckerberg’s invisible roommate and as such, you get to judge his actions. The author also includes those of his initial partner and financial backer Eduardo Saverin as well as the others that joined later on… I think that even investors that take an interest in technology start-ups or recent IPOs can learn a great deal about the culture behind these companies, how they evolve and how fast things can go from a one man operation to a billion dollar business.
If I had to find criticism about the book, it would be that I would have liked to read about Facebook’s more recent stories, how more important corporations tried to buy it early on, how it waged war on other social networks and what Mark Zuckerberg’s role in the company has become. But the book was supposed to be about Facebook’s founding and that is exactly what it is, it remains true to its promise.
So I would recommend that you give Ben Mezrich a shot, pick up this book and you’ll want to read the others, they generally revolve around money, gambling, whiz kids and trading, all based on true but surprisingly fascinating, incredible stories.