Facebook is widely expected to go public in the very near future with a valuation north of $75 billion. It’s a moment that tech watchers have been anticipating for half a decade and will make millionaires out of many, many early Facebook employees.
But let’s go back to May of 2005, less than a year after Facebook was initially incorporated. TheFacebook, as it was then called, measured its users in the low millions. Only American college students could be on the network, and they were verified through their college e-mail addresses. TheFacebook had steamrolled first through Harvard, beginning in February of 2004. Here is Zuck’s first statement as the proprietor of The Facebook, which he gave to the Harvard Crimson’s Alan Tabak, now a lawyer at the high-powered firm, Davis Polk:
“Everyone’s been talking a lot about a universal face book within Harvard,” Zuckerberg said. “I think it’s kind of silly that it would take the University a couple of years to get around to it. I can
do it better than they can, and I can do it in a week.”
As of yesterday afternoon, Zuckerberg said over 650 students had registered use thefacebook.com. He said that he anticipated that 900 students would have joined the site by this morning.
After conquering the Crimson, Zuckerberg expanded the operation to a group of Ivy League schools, and then on to the rest of the country’s colleges. It was clear big things lay on the horizon for the company, but I’m not sure anyone could have seen quite how big.
It was that spring that ‘TheFacebook, Inc’ made its first filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The paperwork details a $6,840 investment from a time when only Mark Zuckerberg, Sean Parker, and Dustin Moskovitz had to be listed on the startup-friendly Rule 506 Form D. Zuckerberg appears to have used is personal phone number for the filing, a New York 914 number rather than the Palo Alto landline used after August of 2005. The legal fees associated with the filing were a mere $50. And it’s signed by the very hand of Zuckerberg.
In the next filing (dated a week later) things get really interesting. We see the $12.7 million investment that came in from Accel Partners. Peter Thiel’s name also shows up on the SEC filing as a director and beneficial owner of the company. Still, I find the first filing the most compelling. If Facebook is now the 800-pound gorilla of the social space, this is that monster’s birth certificate.
This article originally appeared in The Atlantic.