Mark E. Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of facebook.com, dropped in for some on-campus recruiting and announced he would be dropping out of Harvard indefinitely yesterday afternoon.
Following in the footsteps of Microsoft tycoon and former Harvard student Bill Gates, Zuckerberg has chosen computers over campus life.
“I’m not coming back,” he said. Facebook.com spokesman Chris R. Hughes ’06 left open the possibility that Zuckerberg might return several years down the road.
Zuckerberg, formerly of the Class of 2006, will forego a Harvard degree to run facebook.com, the second largest online social networking site and the 10th most-trafficked site on the Internet, according to Hughes.
Zuckerberg spent the morning meeting with computer science professors for help recruiting engineers straight out of college.
“The professors can identify who the smart students are,” he said, adding that he would prefer to hire younger engineers rather than programming veterans. “The job lends itself to people with raw intelligence rather than industry experience. And if you’re coming out of college, you have a really good idea of what facebook is.”
Zuckerberg said he has made similar recruiting trips to Stanford and Berkeley. He will recruit at MIT today before heading back to facebook.com’s headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif.
He said working for a startup company like facebook.com should be considered a viable alternative to consulting or investment banking, two of the most popular career paths for Harvard grads.
“A lot of people know facebook as a site, but not many think of it as a cool company to work for,” he said.
But students expecting a non-stop party in lieu of hard work may be disappointed. Zuckerberg characterized his company as “humble,” and added that his salary is just $65,000 per year.
Employees will also receive facebook.com stock.
Zuckerberg declined to comment on how much the company is worth, saying only that its estimated value is “a lot.” This summer, MySpace, the largest online social networking site, sold for $580 million.
Zuckerberg concluded his round of interviews by meeting with two sophomore programmers who discussed the addition of a music and band promotion feature to the site.
One of those two students said facebook.com’s widespread appeal makes it an attractive company to work for.
“You got the brand name going,” Jonathan A. Hyman ’08 told Zuckerberg. “It’s a verb, man!”
After those meetings, Zuckerberg, dressed inconspicuously in an orange Puma sweatshirt, jeans, and Adidas sandals, took time to chat with friends and potential employees.
“Well, we’ll just sit,” he said, plopping down on the pavement outside the revolving doors with his friend and former facebook.com employee Andrew K. McCollum ’06-’07.
“Hey Priscilla, do you want a job at the facebook?” Zuckerberg asked a passing friend.
“I’d love a job at facebook,” Priscilla Chan ’07 responded, offering him a Twizzler.
—Staff writer Sam Teller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.