The Zuck

The day everyone has been waiting for is coming. Facebook’s $11.8 billion initial public offering will make Mark Zuckerberg, who is only 27 years old, one of the world’s richest men, apart from one of the most influential. The social network he created when he was just 19 is today one of the most valuable companies in the US and the world.

The IPO will be the biggest of any Internet company ever since Google’s in 2004, and could raise up to $10 billion. The price per share will likely be somewhere around $28-35 dollars. The final price will be set the night before the day it begins trading, probably May 18th. He has announced he plans to sell 30.2 million shares, which would net him around $1 billion. He will be richer than Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s CEO, if the company prices at the top of its range.

In the end, Facebook will trade in the Nasdaq, which also lists companies like Apple and Google. Nasdaq and the New York Stock Exchange compete fiercely over listings. Although the NYSE continues to lead in the number and value of company debuts, this deal gives Nasdaq one of the most coveted deals ever and is an important win because it increases its reputation as being the exchange of choice for technology companies. It opened an office in Silicon Valley 20 years ago.

Today it is clear that Facebook is by far the world’s most succesful social network. Not only has it become popular for staying connected with friends and family, it has also given all of us a voice to express ourselves and has taught us that we are all brands. It has transformed the way we socialize and the way we receive information.

Revolutions taking place today -from the Arab Spring to the Occupy Wall Street movement- owe a great deal to Facebook, which has enabled people to communicate with each other, even when official and mass media were censuring the events and the news.

Mark Zuckerberg -The Zuck- has resisted taking his company public for years, obssessed with building something authentic, which would be both very personal and also appealing for millions of people everywhere -more than 900 million today- across all cultures, from Harvard to Tahrir Square. He has also aggresively innovated, being famous for introducing new products quickly. In doing so he has become a visionary, without even setting out to become one.

Zuckerberg will still retain about 57 percent of the voting power after the offering, making sure that Facebook will remain as much his as ours when it goes public.  

-To read the original article in PDF: The Zuck.

Entrepreneurship or Higher Education but not both

Peter Thiel is an American businessman, co-founder of PayPal and an early investor of Facebook. As a venture capital investor he has seen his share of successes. He has helped a whole new generation of tech companies, including SpaceX, LinkedIn, Causes, RoboteX or Spotify. He has investments in biomedical companies and he funds longevity research. He also promotes a host of philanthropic, academic, and cultural institutions and companies, like the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Human Rights Foundation, and the Seasteading Institute, which proposes experimenting with floating communities in the open seas to test new forms of government. He also funds artificial intelligence, and works against violence through the Oslo Freedom Forum, among other initiatives.

In the year 2010, Peter Thiel created the 20 Under 20 Thiel Fellowship, with the aim to nurture the tech visionaries of the future. The original fellowship program gives 20 people under the age of 20 $100,000 to drop out of school and become world-changing visionaries. The only condition is that you commit full-time to your ideas and skip college. Last year more than 400 young people applied.

For Peter Thiel, going to college gets in the way of entrepreneurship. After all, some of the world’s most important inventions and technologies were created by independent minds working on their own. He also believes that there is a higher education bubble waiting to explode. The average college graduate ends up with at least $24,000 in student loan debt in the US, and one in ten has a hard time finding a job. A dysfunctional system. Of course this program does not solve the greater problem of the educational system, but at least it explores new possibilities, radically rethinking everything and allowing the participants to have a five-year head start, and without debts.

The first members of the 20 Under 20 Thiel Fellowship, announced in May this year, will pursue innovative scientific and technical projects, learn entrepreneurship, and begin to build the technology companies of tomorrow. During their two-year tenure, apart from the $100,000, each will receive mentorship from the Foundation’s network of tech entrepreneurs and innovators. The project areas for this class of fellows include biotech, career development, economics and finance, education, energy, information technology, mobility, robotics, and space.

Education systems throughout the world have rapidly become obsolete and necessarily have to evolve. Although solutions like this cannot be applied massively, it is through this kind of initiatives that countries can foster and harness creativity, entrepreneurship and competitiveness for bold young people with ideas.

(To read original article, published in Aug 2011, in PDF: Entrepreneurship or Higher Education But Not Both)

Trailer of a new CNBC two episode special on the 20 under 20 Thiel Fellowship