And it was beginning to look like becoming a celebrity was a real possibility. Though thefacebook had been up and running only for a short time, it was really changing life at Harvard. It was insinuating itself into everyone's routine: you got up, you checked your Facebook account to see who had invited you to be their friend — and which of your invites had been accepted or rejected. Then you went about your business. When you got home, if there was a girl you saw in one of your classes — or even just somebody you'd met in the dining hall — you simply searched for her on Facebook, then invited her to be your friend. Maybe you added some little message about how you'd met, or what you saw in her listed interests that jibed with one of your own. Or maybe you just invited her cold, no message, just to see if she knew you existed. When she opened her account, she'd see your invite, look over your photo, and maybe accept your invitation.
It was really such an amazing tool, lubricating the social scene — making everything happen so much faster. But it wasn’t a dating Web site — the way Eduardo saw Friendster. For all its hype as a social network, Friendster — and MySpace, which was just beginning to catch fire nationwide — was really just about searching through people you didn’t know and trying to hook up with them. The difference was, on Facebook you already knew the people you invited to be your friends. You might not know them well, but you knew them. They were classmates — or friends of friends, members of a “network” that you could join, or be asked to join, by people you knew who were already members.
That was the genius of it all. Mark’s genius, really, but Eduardo felt he was a part of that as well. He’d put up the money for the servers — but he’d also had a hand in discussing some of the attributes of the site, the ideas behind some of the simplified structure.
What neither he nor Mark had known when they started the damn thing was how addictive Facebook was. You didn’t just visit the site once. You visited it every day. You came back again and again, adding to your site, your profile, changing your pictures, your interests, and most of all, updating your friends. It really had moved a large portion of college life onto the Internet. And it really had changed Harvard’s social scene.
But that didn’t make it a business yet — just a highly successful novelty. Eduardo had some ideas about that, and after the lecture, he and Mark were going back to Mark’s room to discuss them. The main thing he wanted to push Mark into understanding was that it was time to start chasing advertising dollars. That’s how they would monetize Facebook, through ads. Eduardo knew it was going to be a tough sell; Mark wanted to just keep it as a fun site, not try to make any money off of it yet. But then again, he was the kid who had turned down a million bucks in high school. Who knew if he’d ever want to monetize Facebook?