For this weeks post, I’ve chosen the most influential companies in the social media industry at the moment. The media are continuously writing about them and scrutinising their every move, so let’s take a look at the people behind the big names and see what their background actually is, specifically focusing on education and experience. Theses are the key people who work for these companies at the moment - so they are not necessarily the founders of the companies. It doesn't aim to be an exhaustive list but it does give us an idea of how various leaders got to be at the top of their game.
Mark Zuckerberg (Co-Founder)
Education: He studied psychology and computer science in Harvard, but dropped out in second year.
Experience: Zuckerberg launched straight into his Facebook career after leaving college early, however, before that he had already written the code for two other websites, namely CourseMatch and Facemash. CourseMatch let students choose classes based on the choices of other students and helped them to create study groups. And Facemash let students pick the most attractive person from a group of photos. He received a lot of criticism from his fellow students for that particular venture.
"The biggest risk is not taking any risk... In a world that changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks."
Sheryl Sandberg (COO)
Education: She studied a B.A. in economics and was given the John H. Williams Prize for the top graduating student in economics. She also earned a M.B.A. with highest distinction from Harvard Business School.
Experience: Sheryl worked as a management consultant for one year before being employed as the Chief of Staff to the US Secretary of the Treasury. Then she went on to join Google before ultimately moving to Facebook. She also co-founded an organisation called Women in Economics and Government and worked as a research assistant at the World Bank where she worked on health projects in India dealing with leprosy, AIDS, and blindness.
"I feel really grateful to the people who encouraged me and helped me develop. Nobody can succeed on their own."
Jack Dorsey (Co-Founder)
Education: He studied at Missouri University of Science and Technology and New York University but eventually dropped out of both.
Experience: Dorsey worked as a programmer when he moved to California with idea for Twitter. Before that, he started a company that dispatched couriers, taxis and emergency services from the internet. He also developed a credit card payment system for mobile devices called 'Square'.
"I am someone who tweets about what I have for breakfast, what I have for lunch, what I have for dinner, and for 99.99999 percent of the world, it's useless. It's meaningless. But for my mother, she loves it."
Dick Costolo (CEO)
Education: He graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.S. degree in computer and communication sciences,
Experience: Costolo took theatre classes in college and tried to work in improvisational comedy before moving to a Andersen Consulting where he was employed as a senior manager. He then co-founded Burning Door Networked Media and SpyOnIt, which were both subsequently sold on. Following on from that, he founded a web feed company called Feedburner, which was bought by Google before he moved to Google himself. His next move was to join Twitter and eventually become it's CEO.
"When you're doing what you love to do, you become resilient. You create a habit of taking chances on yourself."
Larry Page (Co-Founder)
Education: He studied a degree in computer engineering from the University of Michigan and then went on to complete a masters in computer science from Stanford University. He was enrolled in a Phd in computer science at the same university when he came up with idea for Google.
Experience: Page came up with a programme called BackRub which would "count and qualify each backlink on the Web" Then, he along with Sergey Brin developed the PageRank algorithm which lead them onto creating Google.
"If we were motivated by money, we would have sold the company a long time ago and ended up on a beach."
Sergey Brin (Co-Founder)
Education: He studied computer science and mathematics at the University of Maryland and received a Bachelor of Science with honours. He went on to do a PhD at Stanford but is on leave from those studies as of 2008.
Experience: Brin did an internship at the Wolfram Research, the computation software company, before setting up Google with Larry Page.
"Obviously everyone wants to be successful, but I want to be looked back on as being very innovative, very trusted and ethical and ultimately making a big difference in the world."
Reid Hoffman (Co-Founder)
Education: He studied a degree in symbolic systems and cognitive science before going on to earn an masters in philosophy from Wolfson College, Oxford University.
Experience: Hoffman has worked for Apple and Fujitsu before setting up an online dating website called SocialNet.com, which ultimately failed. Then, he joined Paypal and worked as the COO for 2 years before going on to setup LinkedIn with two former colleagues from SocialNet.com.
"One of the challenges in networking is everybody thinks it's making cold calls to strangers. Actually, it's the people who already have strong trust relationships with you, who know you're dedicated, smart, a team player, who can help you."
Jeff Weiner (CEO)
Education: He holds a degree in economics from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
Experience: He worked at Yahoo! for 7 years before going on to work for Warner Brothers and eventually LinkedIn.
"In order to inspire people, that's going to have to come from somewhere deep inside of you."
Susan Wojcicki (CEO)
Education: She studied history and literature at Harvard and graduated with honours.
Experience: Wojcicki worked in marketing at Intel, was a consultant at Bain & Company and R.B. Webber & Company before becoming Google's first marketing manager. She was strongly involved in Google's acquisition of Youtube in 2006 before moving on to the company itself.
"At the end of the day, both men and women who become CEOs have showed tenacity and hard work to succeed in their careers. It takes not just skills but also extreme dedication and commitment. And regardless of gender, CEOs are measured by the same criteria - the growth and success of the business."
Chad Hurley (Co-Founder and former CEO)
Education: He earned a B.A. in fine art from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
Experience: He worked at Paypal before setting up Youtube with former Paypal colleagues in 2005 and sold it in 2006 for $1.65 Billion. He has gone on to setup another company called Mixbit, which is a mobile video editing app.
"If something excites you, go for it."
I think it's fascinating to see where they are now and where they have come from. Are there any re-occuring themes? Diligence and perseverance perhaps? I hope you enjoyed this post and got some inspiration from some of the leaders in the IT industry.
Thanks for reading.
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