Power Players

Watch 19-year-old Mark Zuckerberg explain 'The Facebook' in his first TV interview in 2004

Watch 19-year-old Mark Zuckerberg explain Facebook—and how it held up over the years

Today, Mark Zuckerberg's net worth is estimated at more than $64 billion. And With over 2.3 billion users and a market value of nearly $500 billion, you would be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn't know about Facebook.

But in 2004, the social networking giant was in its nascent stages — the site launched in February of that year — and it was called "The Facebook." Back then, 19-year-old co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg still needed to go on television to explain the concept behind the networking site, which he did in his first-ever television interview with CNBC on April 28, 2004.

Mark Zuckerberg photographed at Eliot House at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA on May 14, 2004. Facebook was created in February 2004, three months prior to this photograph.
Rick Friedman | Corbis News | Getty Images

In that interview with CNBC's Becky Quick, the future billionaire described his website as a place to "find some interesting information about people," and "an online directory that connects people through universities and colleges through their social networks there."

Over the years, Zuckerberg conducted more and more TV interviews touting Facebook as the online platform where users can stay connected with their friends and family. In 2006, Zuckerberg told NBC's "The Today Show" that he started Facebook because he "just figured it would be really cool if there was some website that I could go to that would tell me a bunch of information about my friends and the people around me."

"Cool" indeed. In 2008, Facebook made Zuckerberg a billionaire (the world's youngest in fact), according to Forbes, which estimated his worth then at $1.5 billion. Facebook was reported to be valued around $15 billion at the time, but according to Forbes, investors thought that was high. 

By 2010, Zuckerberg said Facebook's focus was "helping people share and helping people stay connected with their friends and family and the community around them. We think that if we do that then more people will want to use the service and we'll be able to build a great business," he told CNBC.

Of course, Facebook did build a massive business from its users' eagerness to connect with one another and share their personal information online. Now, Zuckerberg and Facebook are facing increased criticism over online privacy issues and just how the company leverages users' data to make billions of dollars each year (Facebook reported over $55.8 billion in advertising revenue in 2018).

Last year, Zuckerberg took responsibility for any privacy issues at Facebook, including allowing third-party companies to access users' data without permission, with the CEO calling the issues "a huge mistake, my mistake."

Zuckerberg also explained, yet again, that the underlying purpose of sharing personal information on Facebook is supposed to be connecting people. "We use that [information] to help people connect," he said in an April 2018 call with reporters. "We run ads to make it a free service everyone in the world can afford."

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