Mark Zhao is born in White Plains, NY on May 14, 1984. He has black hair, brown eyes. He weighs seven pounds. His parents have a name ready for him when he is born, picked out of baby books, measured against the names of colleagues, American-born friends, compared to Chinese names of similar meanings.
He's a quiet baby, serious, well-behaved. His parents believe that he's going to do great things.
Maybe they're right.
Mark has always loved building, has always loved putting things together and taking them apart. His mom was an electrical engineer who came to the US for grad school, got a job, and never left. She teaches him how to solder when he's nine, shows him how hold the iron in one hand, how to melt the solder onto the tip. He learns to fix his remote controlled cars and talking plastic frogs, learns how things are made from the inside out, learns what it's like to reach inside something and make it work.
Years and years later, Christy Lee will lean over towards Mark's best friend, Eduardo Saverin, and she'll invite him out to drinks, and Mark will remember the way she smiles in the bar, teeth bared.
They get a moment together after she blows Eduardo in the bathroom stall. Eduardo's getting drinks, newly twenty-one and showing it off as best he can. Alice ran into a friend and is still talking to her somewhere else in the room. It's just Mark and Christy, sitting across each other in the booth, sizing each other up, staring each other down. It's dim, and it's noisy, and Mark feels an old competitiveness flare up.
In eighth grade, Mark's nemesis was Edith Tan. She wasn't the only other Asian kid in his class, but she is the only one who could even come close to matching Mark intellectually. Their parents always compared them to one another, like they were comparing trading cards, trying to figure out which ones had the better stats. (Mark looked her up after she joined Facebook along with the rest of Princeton. She's doing astrophysics research these days and dating a guy on the lacrosse team. whatever.)
"So you're really the guy who created the Facebook?" Christy says. She's yelling to be heard over the noise, the collected hum of the crowd, but she doesn't look like she's yelling. She's calm, put together, like she hadn't just been on her knees on the disgusting bathroom floor.
"Yeah, I am" Mark says. He glances around the bar for Eduardo. Most places in Massachusetts are paranoid about underage drinking, deathly afraid of losing their liquor licenses, but this one seems content to let in anyone who wants to come in.
Christy laughs, her head thrown back like she knows it's charming or some shit like that. All of the Asian girls Mark knows fall into two categories: the nerdy ones and the pretty ones. Mark's always known where he stands with the nerdy ones, the shared experience of falling into that particular stereotype. Mark never knows what to do with the pretty ones, the ones with red lips and perfect nails and the perfect clothes, the ones who would fuck the ugliest white guy they could find before they even took a second look at Mark. "You're kind of a weird guy, Zhao," she says. She pronounces his last name with all of the tones intact.
"Fuck you, too," Mark says.
Christy just laughs again. Before she can say anything else, Eduardo comes back with their drinks.
Mark meets Erica at a mutual friend's party right after he starts his sophomore year at Harvard. He's pretty sure she gets the impression that Mark is quiet and sweet because Mark is coming off a twenty-six-hour coding binge and is just awake enough to stare blankly into space while people are talking to him.
They sit on the couch, knees bumping every once in a while, and Erica laughs whenever Mark says something, like she thinks he's the funniest guy in the room. It's a low key party, just some people hanging around, while soft, elevator muzak plays in the background. The lights are all still on, and thank god no one has decided to start dancing.
"So where are your parents from?" she asks, leaning forward into Mark's space. She smells nice, a little flowery, like scented soap, but not as overpowering as perfume.
Mark blinks. "Taiwan," he says, "it's this island off the coast--"
Erica smiles. "I know where it is," she says. "Want to get coffee sometime?"
They get coffee. Erica quizzes Mark on Mandarin words for things, and that's straightforward enough that even Mark can't fuck it up. If all girls were this easy, Mark wouldn't have struck out so badly with Jennifer Stacy junior year that one time she agreed to go out with him. It's early, before morning classes, and Mark got out of bed only ten minutes before he agreed to meet up with Erica at the coffeeshop. He hopes the caffeine helps.
Erica turns out to be a morning person, so she doesn't really even need the coffee, and she seems to find him funny when he gets annoyed at the other kids in his gen ed Econ class who can't even seem to understand simple supply and demand graphs. "What's so difficult about understanding that when the supply goes up the price goes down?" Mark asks.
Erica smiles. "I guess not even the Harvard kids can't be good at everything," Erica says as she sips her coffee, dainty, careful, "but yeah, I hated Econ." She ducks her head slightly, like she's embarrassed or something.
Mark grew up in a house of sisters, but they make a lot more sense than any of the girls he meets do. He used to ask them for dating advice, but none of them seemed to agree about anything, and Mark just gave up on any of that. "Econ is kind of stupid," Mark says. "The assumptions are all wrong." If he'd said that around Eduardo, it would have turned into a twenty-minute argument about simplifying assumptions, and somehow Mark would have ended up defending Turing machines or something equally as ridiculous.
Erica doesn't argue, though. Erica laughs, and she squeezes Mark's hand, and Mark thinks maybe sophomore year won't suck.
It doesn't take Erica long to figure out that Mark's actually an asshole when he gets enough sleep.
But then Mark creates Facemash, and it doesn't even matter.
At Exeter, Mark wasn't special. He was just another academic whiz kid amongst a whole school of academic whiz kids. There are plenty of other Asians around, of all stripes, and Mark falls in with them for the first few years, before he finds the computer geeks and starts hanging around with them.
He picks up fencing because Vincent, this kid he knows, has been doing fencing since he was five. Mark falls a little in love with it, falls in love with the weigh of a foil in his hand, the narrowing of his vision when he's wearing a mask. He learns how to keep his back straight to keep himself from slouching, and he learns how to follow the movements of an opponent's hands.
He learns Latin and Ancient Greek, reads Homer and Virgil for his classes. He likes it better than the Chinese classes that his parents made him take, the endless memorization of characters, one for each word. He's been studying Chinese most of his life, and he still can't read street signs, much less the subtitles on movies.
Latin, by comparison, is easy, straightforward. Mark likes it. It doesn't make him feel stupid.
The thing is, Mark doesn't feel Asian most of the time. He feels like Mark, a Mark-person, who just happens to look a lot like his mom, and who just happens to have been born into a place where people who look like Mark aren't all that common. Just common enough that they all get lumped together, into this one category.
His parents are from a different country, sure, but he was born American. His aunts and uncles, still back in Taiwan, talk about how American he is, how American his sisters are.
He's Asian, yes, but he's not just Asian, and he's American, too, but he's not quite that either. It's annoying. He likes his labels neat, unambiguous. He hates the idea that he's not fully specified, not neatly laid out so his behavior can be judged consistent or inconsistent.
Randi, who already went through a whole month ranting about racism (and seriously, they're Asian, and they're middle class, and they're going to good schools, so Mark doesn't understand what she has to whine about), says that Mark still hasn't come to terms with his racial identity.
Mark tells her that all those humanities classes have brainwashed her, but she just laughs at him and goes back to reading Orientalism. When she looks at Mark these days, she shakes her head, and Mark absolutely hates the look of pity on her face.
In early 2005, Wired writes an article called "The Asian Invasion" about the rise of Asian-American entrepreneurs and startups. Mark Zhao gets his own sidebar discussing the meteoric rise of Facebook and the success the site has been having on college campuses. They include one-sentence quote from him about how Facebook exists to connect people. Mark also gets compared to Jerry Yang, co-founder and CEO of Yahoo, who created his internet legacy while he was studying electrical engineering at Stanford. There's a picture of Mark to go along with the sidebar. In this picture, he's sitting at a computer, eyes focused on his screen, black hair falling over his eyes.
Facebook has 1.5 million users. By the end of the year, it will have 5.5 million. This is only just the beginning.
Mark meets Eduardo through Dustin, and he meets Dustin through his intro CS classes. It takes Mark a few days to realize that Eduardo isn't just some asshole who hangs around the nerds to feel cool about himself, but is, in fact, a giant dork underneath the styled hair and expensive suits. It's really kind of amazing, watching him get worked up over things like weather forecasts and ranking algorithms. His face sort of lights up, like the golden retriever the next door neighbors used to have, and he'll start talking faster, more precise.
Mark understands that feeling, that desire to make everyone see what's inside your head, when what you see is something so perfect and amazing that they should love it too.
Eduardo's still a dork, though.
Eduardo's also from Brazil, which lends him a particularly exotic sheen. His dad was apparently a big deal there before they moved to Florida, and Eduardo talks about his dad a lot. He talks about what his dad wants him to do, about what sort of advice his dad gives in particular situations. Sometimes, Eduardo will answer his phone around the Kirkland suite, and he'll get this look on his face, like he hates himself, all raw and upset and pained, and Mark knows he must have disappointed his dad somehow, disappointed him enough that Eduardo can't handle it stoically or easily.
Mark understands that feeling, too.
There's this night when they're in Kirkland, and Eduardo has his feet on the coffee table, and Eduardo puts his hand on Mark's back, right between Mark's shoulder blades. Mark can feel the warmth of his fingers through the thin, warm cotton.
Eduardo probably doesn't realize he's done it. They're both drunk, Eduardo more than Mark. Mark stands up, wobbling on his feet. Eduardo smiles, drunk-happy and puppy-dog sweet. His lashes look longer in this light, almost girly.
"Mark," Eduardo says, and Mark turns around to face him. Eduardo is sprawled on Mark's couch, legs and arms all over. His face is a little flush with the alcohol, and Mark knows his own cheeks are bright red; he inherited his particularly bad Asian glow from his father.
Mark tries to remember why they were drinking in the first place. Maybe Eduardo had a particularly bad exam or something. "What?" Mark says.
"I'm glad you're my friend," Eduardo says, "because it would really suck if you hated me."
Mark blinks a few times, trying to figure out what Eduardo even means like that. "Wow, you really are smashed," he says.
Eduardo laughs. "I really am," he says. "It's pretty amazing."
Mark finds himself grinning back, a warm, pleasant feeling settling in his chest. He's pretty drunk himself. "I'm glad you're my friend, too," Mark says.
Eduardo beams at him like it's the best thing he's ever heard, and Mark likes that. Mark likes that a lot.
"Shit, Zhao," Billy Olsen says as soon as Mark sets foot inside the AEPi party. "Your sister's hot. I can't believe you haven't had her visit more often."
Mark was supposed to meet Donna at the party half an hour ago, but then he had figured out where his Systems project was leaking memory, and he'd gotten a little distracted. The theme for this particular party is the 80's, and Mark shoves his hands into his jeans and shoulders his way through the sparse crowd of leg warmers and truly terrifying hair.
Mark spots Eduardo on the far side of the room, already a little drunk by the looks of things, leaning over Donna with his most charming smile plastered to his face. Donna is smiling back a little more hesitantly, biting at her lower lip and nodding every once in a while. She's planning on coming to Harvard next year, after she graduates, and she's fond of visiting Mark just because he's here, and he's not. She's the quietest of Mark's sisters, the least likely of all of them to argue with their parents.
"You know she's only seventeen, right?" Mark says, because Eduardo doesn't even notice when Mark walks right up behind him.
Eduardo jerks back so fast Mark snorts. "Uh," Eduardo says. His face starts going red.
Donna brightens when she catches sight of Mark, leaping forward to give him a huge hug. Mark just stands there, his arms hanging awkwardly at his side. "You finally made it, asshole," she says. She steps back and punches Mark in the arm.
"Oh," Eduardo says. "I didn't realize--" He glances back and forth between Mark and Donna, eyes wide. Mark had told Eduardo that his sister would be visiting a few days ago. Maybe Eduardo had forgotten.
Dustin chooses that exact moment to show up to their little gathering, throwing his arms across Mark and Eduardo's shoulders. He's holding a blue Dixie cup in one hand. "Wait," he says, eyeing Donna, "that's your sister, Mark? I can't believe you let Eduardo anywhere near her."
Eduardo bites his lip. His face kind of resembles a beet. It's fairly well-known amongst their crowd that Eduardo has a thing for Asian girls, the same way it's well-known that Dustin has an unfortunate tendency to crush on emotionally vulnerable and romantically unavailable lesbians. Donna is pretty much exactly Eduardo's type. "Fuck off," Eduardo says.
Thankfully, Donna doesn't seem to get it, but Mark isn't going to stick around long enough for her to figure it out. "We're getting out of here. There's a pretty decent hamburger place in Harvard Square." He heads straight for the front door, Donna trailing after him, shuffling her feet. After that little display, everyone's staring at them, and that sort of attention has always made Donna uncomfortable.
A few days later, Eduardo says, "Look, Mark. I'm really sorry. If I'd known she was--"
He looks earnest, the way Eduardo always looks earnest, his shoulders hunched, his lips pulled into a grimace. Mark's not really angry at him. It's just this other weird, unpleasant feeling, so Mark says, "Just don't do it again." It feels like there's something hollow in his chest. This is just how it is. Eduardo hits on tiny Asian girls, and sometimes he watches the skinny Jewish guys, and Mark splits the difference, stuck somewhere in between.
Once Mark starts working on TheFacebook, it becomes almost a living thing. He spends days, weeks, deep inside the guts of the code, fitting all the pieces together, making all of it work. He can't get the idea, that spark, out of his head. It lingers on while he's in classes, while he's in the shower, when he's in the dining halls with Dustin and Chris and Eduardo.
He dreams in code half the time, in if-statements and for-loops and CSS, in half-formed algorithms that linger on the forefront of his mind when he wakes up. TheFacebook starts looking like something, and the longer Mark works, the more like something it becomes. It's like Mark has conjured it out of thin air, like magic.
Facebook is beautiful on the surface and ugly underneath. Underneath, It looks like it's been stuck together with sticky tack and duct tape, full of unpleasant hacks and inflexible design, ready to fall apart at any second, but Mark finds that beautiful too in its own way. Mark is building something from the inside out, and he'll never get tired of this feeling, not now, not ever.
Eduardo says, "We need to monetize the site."
"No," Mark says. It's the same argument that they've been having for weeks, and Mark is already bored of it. He focuses on the server logs in front of him, tries to go over everything he's ever learned about SQL optimization.
"We've got to be realistic here. What are we going to do when we run out of money?" Eduardo says. "Ask for donations?" He's sitting on the bed waving his arms like he thinks he needs to get Mark's attention.
"I don't know, okay?" Mark says. They've seen a spike in traffic after adding Stanford and MIT and the other Ivies, and all of his spare brainpower is going towards making sure their server doesn't melt down overnight. People he's never even met before have been coming up to him before class to ask him when he's going to fix the slowness, and Mark doesn't have a good answer to that because he's been doing everything he can. "We're not going to put shitty Flash ads on the site, though."
"I just want to make sure that this company can become something worth investing in," Eduardo says. The words sound stiff, mechanical as they come out of his mouth.
Eduardo has been so perfectly programmed by his parents. Mark can always tell when he's saying things that he thinks his father would say, when he's parroting his father back to Mark, so very well-trained. Eduardo sighs and goes back to sulking, maybe plotting his revenge.
Hopefully, he knows that Mark would cut his hands off for even looking at their SVN repository funny. Mark even has the right weapons for it, too. Dustin gave him a katana for his birthday after finding out that Mark fenced in high school.
No ads. Not yet. Not until they can do them right, until Mark can figure out how to make them work. It's been weeks, and Eduardo's still fixated on this idea. His vision is so narrow, so limited.
Mark needs to look farther than that.
(It's not that Eduardo doesn't understand it entirely, though, because there's this one time, when Mark is sitting at his desk, just spitting out new ideas for new features that they could add to TheFacebook, just rambling on and on about photo sharing and friends lists and the ability to share links with friends.
And Eduardo is just smiling and smiling, not saying anything, but still happy, like maybe he can see it, too.)
The club is dark and loud, and Sean is doing shot after shot. He grins at Mark underneath the the colored lights, reds and purples and yellows, then greens and blues and whites.
"You know what I fucking love?" Sean says, yelling to be heard over the the music. "I love that in America, it doesn't matter if you're black, white, or purple. If you've got the goods, you've got the goods. And you, my friend, have got the goods." He jabs his fingers at Mark's face.
"I don't even know what that's supposed to mean," Mark yells, but he feels warm and pleased and not just because of the alcohol.
Sean laughs. "You're really fucking funny for an Asian guy," he says. "Most of you don't have a sense of humor."
"What?" Mark says. The music is pretty loud and Sean's speech is getting a little slurred.
"You're going to fucking change everything," Sean says, arms outstretched, grinning bright and easy and perfect. "That's going to be some shit to watch."
This is how Mark meets Sean:
"I've got this friend of a friend who wants to meet you," Christy says while they're planning out the trip to New York City. "He's kind of an asshole, but he's pretty cool if you can keep him from making too many Wong puns." She says that second part softer, like it's an inside joke between just the two of them.
Mark shrugs. He has a sense of humor. He can take it.
Despite Christy's warnings about Sean, Sean turns out to be one of the coolest people Mark has ever met, because he's done it. He's changed everything, even if it was by accident. He's ready to see the future in a way that Eduardo isn't, still stuck in the old models, the old ways of thinking.
"It's a good site," Sean says, "and even more than that, it's a good idea. That's the harder thing to pull off. You've got college students chomping at the bit trying to get on, and you shouldn't waste that while you have it."
"Yeah?" Eduardo says. "And how do you propose we do that?" He's been annoyed and pissy all day, which Mark doesn't understand at all.
Sean smiles his fuck-you-I-helped-create-Napster smile. "Hey, this doesn't involve me at all, but don't take your eye off Mark, here. He'll keep you going in the right direction as long as you don't let him drive anything." He winks at Mark, and Mark laughs, even as Christy rolls her eyes.
Afterwards in the cab, with Christy asleep on Eduardo's shoulder, Eduardo says, "I didn't like him." He's frowning, still agitated and uncomfortable.
And Mark can barely even hear him, because all he remembers is the way Sean seemed to think that Facebook (they are going to drop the 'the') is going to be big, that Facebook is going to be a billion dollars big. Mark says, "What's not to like?"
The problem with Eduardo is that he's under the same impression that Mark's parents are: that if you keep your head down, if you behave, people will be nice enough to pretend not to notice how different you are. And maybe if you look like Eduardo -- if you can change your name to Edward and no one will ever ask you where your family is from -- maybe that's the way it works.
But what Mark's learning, what Sean is teaching him, is that you can't sit down and let them roll right over you. You have to make them see you. You have to make sure they can't look away.
Before Sean starts living there, life in their house is approximately 90% work, 5% sleep, 2% putting food into mouths (while working), and 3% getting into stupid arguments, whether it's about software design, Star Wars or which types of pizza are the best. After Sean shows up, the ratio doesn't entirely change, except now "work" for Mark includes business meetings with investors. They occasionally ask him about his vision for the site, ask him how he expects to make it even more successful. Mark has answers, because Mark knows Facebook inside and out, and the investors nod and smile and occasionally shoot looks at Sean, who is always on his best behavior. A lot of times, Sean goes ahead of Mark to smooth the way.
"They get a little antsy around you when you're young and untested," Sean explains. "I just think it would be better if I go ahead to vouch for you, make sure that they don't dismiss us too quickly."
Mark doesn't really give a shit, because the fewer meetings he has, the happier he is.
Sean's good at what he does, because the meetings he does make Mark go to are good, productive. They look at Mark like he's actually got something here, like they actually do want to hear what Mark has to say. Sean is approximately 40% bullshit on any given day, but Mark doesn't give a fuck if he can get Mark this, if he can get people who are willing to talk.
In New York, before they met Sean, Mark and Eduardo had this one meeting with an ad executive who clearly didn't want to be here, who took one look at Mark and asked "What is this, are they trying to sell me fortune cookies or something?" And Eduardo had sat there, giving the same spiel that Mark had already heard at least twenty times already, like Eduardo still believed it was worth talking to this guy, like he hadn't even noticed that it was going to be a complete fucking waste of time.
Sean doesn't waste Mark's time with bullshit, or if he does, it's because Mark's in on it. Mark always has time to troll assholes. What he doesn't have is the time to watch assholes dismiss them out of hand.
Still, even with business meetings, Mark's life is mostly work. It's code and bash prompts and sore wrists, and Mark can't imagine ever wanting anything else.
When Mark tells Eduardo he's not going back to Harvard after the summer, Eduardo goes silent on the other end of the phone.
"Seriously?" he says. "You're not coming back?"
"Nope," Mark says. He's got the phone pressed against his ear. "This is-- this is something I can't give up."
"Shit," Eduardo says. His voice softens. "What did your parents say?" Mark's told him about his parents, a little bit, but he's not like Eduardo, who gets so fucked up over his dad, it's like it can shut down his brain several days at a time.
Mark hasn't told his parents yet, because he already has a good idea about what they'd say. They hadn't wanted him to do Facebook all summer, saying that it would be a lot better, a lot safer if he got an internship at a big company, Microsoft or Sony or something like that. "It doesn't matter," Mark says. "I'm moving the company out here permanently."
Eduardo sighs. "It's just one more year for me. My parents would kill me for dropping out now." It's an apology, Mark knows, but it's still not enough. Eduardo can't keep everyone happy forever. Something is going to have to give.
"Yeah," Mark says, because he really wasn't expecting anything else. "I just thought you should know."
Mark calls his parents up right afterwards, and he tells them the news. They react pretty much exactly the way he expected them to: they flip the fuck out.
"Do you know what you're doing?" his mother says, her words sounding angrier, sharper, in Mandarin. "You're going to be ruining your life by doing this. No one will take you seriously without a degree. It will just show that you can't finish things."
Mark doesn't mention that Sean doesn't have a degree, that Sean can ring up millionaires and they'll take his call, that Sean doesn't give a fuck and he can still make it work. "Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard to work on Microsoft," Mark says.
His mother says, "Your father and I are overdue for a visit. We'll see you in a few days, and that house of yours better not be a pig sty."
The house is still a pig sty when Mark's parents show up, covered in leftover popcorn, pizza boxes, dirty clothes. Mark managed to get rid of all the half-finished cups of alcohol and the bong, at the very least. His parents drive up in their rental car, and Mark greets them at the door. His mom gives him a hug even though she's frowning, and his father is quiet, silently disapproving.
"You're not eating well, and you're not getting enough sleep," his mom says. She pinches his arm before he can pull his arm away.
The interns look up to see what the commotion in the doorway, before turning back towards their work, as they should. "Mom, stop it," Mark says. They're speaking in English, one of those weird things they do when they're around people who don't speak Mandarin, even when they're arguing.
"We should get some lunch so we can talk," his dad says.
They get lunch.
"I'm not going back," Mark says while they're waiting for their food. "It's-- we're going somewhere with this. I think we've really got something here."
His mom's face softens. "You know we only want what's best for you, right? And right now, what's best for you is that you finish school. Your website will still be there."
Mark doesn't know how to explain it to her, how to make her understand how fast the internet moves. It's practically at lightspeed. If Mark has to go back to Harvard, if he has to wait two more years, Facebook won't matter anymore. It won't be anything at all. Eduardo doesn't seem to understand that, either. He barely understands how to confirm friend requests, though, so Mark isn't surprised.
"I'm not going back," Mark says again.
They don't officially cut him off, but it's a close thing. His dad sends passive-aggressive statistics about the success rates of college dropouts, which aren't as bad as Mark might have thought. His mom does her best to guilt him over the phone, talking to him about how most children would love a chance to graduate from Harvard, and he was just throwing those two years (and his life) away here. They ask him about backup plans if Facebook doesn't work, if the bottom suddenly drops out. "We will support you if you need us, of course," they say, "but you need to think of these things first and foremost."
Sean can always tell when Mark's been on the phone with his parents. "It's like all the joy has been sucked out of your life, and let me tell you, there wasn't a whole lot of joy there to begin with," Sean says. "You shouldn't let their Asian-parentness fuck up your chi or whatever." He's sitting on the couch. Mark is sitting next to him with his laptop. Now that he isn't coding in his own room, he needs his headphones to tune out the ambient noise.
"I'm not going to," Mark says. He goes back to the code, goes back to building his empire.
In 2007, Facebook privacy concerns become a hot button issue.
Someone writes an article entitled "Model Minority?" for the Washington Post, which is all about the rising influence of Asian Americans in the tech industry. Mark Zhao gets six paragraphs dedicated to him, including some of the opening, which claims that
this second generation, with their foreign-born parents and their American-grown culture are redefining the culture and values of Silicon Valley.
At Facebook, the up-and-coming internet giant doesn't believe in individual cubicles, preferring to seat its employees next to each other at long tables that more closely resembles a sweat shop than the traditional office environment. CEO and co-founder Mark Zhao insists that this helps maintain a startup-like atmosphere and encourages the free-flow of ideas. However, some developers have complained about the lack of privacy inherent in such a set-up, reflecting similar concerns that have plagued the company as a whole.
Facebook has over 20 million users, over 2 million in Canada, and over 1 million in the UK.
In 2008, Mark becomes the youngest billionaire in the world.
In 2010, Facebook has over 500 million users.
In 2005, Eduardo sues Mark for 600 million dollars, and he sits across the table from Mark, and he says I was your only friend, like it's anywhere remotely near the truth, like he means it.
It ends like this:
"Everything looks good," Thiel says. "There's just this one thing."
He puts a contract in front of Mark, lines and lines of lawyer-speak. They hand Mark a pen. "What is it?" Mark asks.
Thiel smiles, all sharp and business-like. "Eduardo Saverin," Thiel says. "The way things are working now, he's a liability. If you can't give me assurances that he'll either start doing his job or if you can't make sure that he's replaced by someone who is willing to do his job, then I don't think it makes sense for us to do business with one another."
Mark knows he needs to make a choice, and he knows he needs to make it right now. Eduardo isn't going to be swayed by ultimatums, Mark knows that. He'll just get pissy and fuck everything up. He'll give lectures about how Silicon Valley business models aren't sustainable and about how Mark doesn't ever think things through before he does them and isn't that why the Winklevoss twins are always on their ass?
Sean says, "Don't let Eduardo be the albatross around your neck, man."
Thiel says, "You seem like a smart kid. I trust that you'll make the right decision."
Mark looks down at this piece of paper, and he puts down his pen, and he closes his eyes for a moment. He thinks about the way Eduardo wants to do things, hesitant and afraid. He wants to go about this the "proper way" of banner ads and Harvard diplomas, of kowtowing to Madison Avenue and whoever the fuck wants to pick on them. No wonder Mark's parents love the shit out of him. They talk about that, sometimes, about how obedient and well-behaved his sisters are, how good. Eduardo's practically the son they always wanted.
Mark thinks about what Sean said, about how this is America, about how all Mark needs is to know he has the goods. Mark thinks, fuck Eduardo, and fuck his parents, and you know what else -- fuck Erica, too. Fuck everyone and everything that has ever stood in his way. He doesn't need them. He never has.
Eduardo already made his own choice, and it certainly wasn't Mark, and it certainly wasn't Facebook.
Mark opens his eyes. He picks up his pen. He signs the contract.
He doesn't look back.