As the bazillionaire founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg now has a real estate portfolio in Silicon Valley that includes four homes he’s tearing down to create a mega-palace fit for a tech king. But his living situation wasn’t always so robust. Thirteen years ago, he was a 19-year-old Harvard student spending all his time working on Facebook in a small dorm room, Kirkland House H33 to be exact. This week, Zuckerberg — who is a college dropout — returned to where it all began for him and made his parents proud when he received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree during Harvard’s graduation ceremony.
Though Zuckerberg, 33, was back on campus to deliver the commencement address to the class of 2017, he couldn’t resist visiting his old stomping grounds, and took Facebook users on the journey with him as he broadcasted the experience on Facebook Live. Taking users through his old dorm room, he showed everyone the desk and chair where he worked, saying, “This is literally where I sat, and I had my little laptop here. And this is where I programmed Facebook.”
The desk was pretty much in the exact same spot it was 13 years ago, with one notable difference: There is now a Ferris Bueller’s Day Off poster hanging above it, which Zuckerberg called out. “I would not have had a poster that cool,” he joked.
Zuckerberg went on to share where co-founders Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes lived, and showed users where he and his now-wife Priscilla Chan spent their free time when they were dating as college co-eds. Along the way, he offered some funny memories from his time as a student, like when he was almost expelled for building the “FaceSmash” website, which was memorably featured in The Social Network. The site was used to gauge the attractiveness of one student versus another.
“It was a prank, it was funny,” he said of the site, “but also a little bit in poor taste.”
Those looking for insight into Facebook’s early days weren’t disappointed, as Zuckerberg also shared what it was like to work day and night on launching the site, spending all of his time coding — so much so that he didn’t have time to eat! Zuckerberg relied on Hot Pockets from the local convenience store to keep him going as he worked on coding what would eventually become a social media juggernaut — and a billion-dollar company.
Zuckerberg revealed that Harvard will be renovating Kirkland House: “If there’s one thing about Harvard, they’re very confident about getting rid of old relics, because they know they’re always going to be making new history.”
With that, Zuckerberg said goodbye to his old room. “I’m probably never going to be back here again, in this specific room,” he noted, “but this has been a place where a lot of really special things happened in my life, and I’m really grateful to this place.”
On Thursday, Zuckerberg addressed the graduating class, where he told them, “I’m not here to give you the standard commencement about finding your purpose,” he said. “We’re millennials. We’ll try to do that instinctively. Instead, I’m here to tell you finding your purpose isn’t enough. …The challenge for us is to create a world where everyone has their own sense of purpose.”
Zuckerberg was also presented with an honorary degree and proudly showed it off on Instagram, with his beaming parents by his side: “Mom, I always told you I’d come back and get my degree.”
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