It seems as though when Mark released Face Smash, the site got 22,000 hits in a couple of hours. Now he said to Eduardo that he needed the Phoenix club mailing list because if he didn't get them to send it out "Facebook would just bounce around the dorms". I'd say the previous 22,000 hits in 2 hours is a little more than "bouncing around the dorms".

So why did Mark need Eduardo's help in securing the mailing list emails?

3 Answers 3


Facebook in the early days was designed to be a website of privilege, where only Harvard students with a harvard.edu email address could get in. Mark wanted to get students of influence onto Facebook to help create the feeling of exclusiveness that the website was offering. So inviting members of the Phoenix club would mean that Phoenix club members would be the ones sending out the first friend invites.

Mark created a social network where the only way to get in was to be invited, and being invited by someone in the Phoenix club would have been considered an honor.

  • Did the movie really state that membership was only possible by invitation?
    – NGLN
    Commented Jan 11, 2013 at 21:58
  • @NGLN No, I don't think it did. I might be wrong about that part.
    – Reactgular
    Commented Jan 12, 2013 at 0:33
  • 2
    @NGLN: Yes, it did mention it a couple times. But they are rather short excerpts, and you might miss if you're not listening for them.
    – PiousVenom
    Commented Jan 14, 2013 at 20:53

He doesn’t. He says he does, but he doesn’t.

The Facebook, when launched, did have a requirement, “You must have a harvard.edu address to register” but it would become more about who you know - just like college cliques. (The exclusivity just to Harvard.edu idea was the Harvard Connection site planned by the Winklevoss concern, and ill advisedly handed over to Zuckerberg to leverage.)

”People came to FaceSmash in a stampede right? But it wasn’t because they saw pictures of hot girls. You can go anywhere on the Internet and see pictures of hot girls. It’s because they saw pictures of girls that they know. People want to go online and see their friends, so why not build a site that offers that…. It would be exclusive. [in the sense that] You would have to know the people on the site to get past your own page, like getting punched. [Friended] It’s like a Final club but we’re the president.” … “I’m talking about taking the entire social experience of college and putting it online. That is what this site is about.”

The movie shows Zuckerberg’s nimble transformation of his original hack FaceSmash, to include Eduardo’s algorithm, then the Winklevoss idea of exclusivity, and glomming on a bunch of other friend’s ideas (e.g. relationship status), and then leveraging Sean Parker’s business experience of losing control of his prior company to investors (but who’s leveraging who?), and snowballing all of that up into Facebook – gloriously! That’s the whole plot structure of the movie: that most of Facebook wasn’t original, but you still have to do the work, and be the guy who is smart enough to turn that over into a profitable company. In that sense, it really is a parable of all of business and great companies.

So the [email protected] email list from Eduardo (to every member of The Phoenix – SK Club) was about putting a best foot forward and starting it off with the cool clique and growing page hits organically from that, vs. starting with a bunch of “dorks”. In the movie Mark did say, “These guys know people, and I need their emails”, but he was playing Eduardo to get the address. The 22,000 hits were generated by sending an email to just 3 people. When you look at the original and current site functionality, he in fact did not need it. The only reason he “needed” it was to stick a finger in the eye of the privileged by using them, and proving the “American dream” is still true by having nothing but intelligence and a great college education to create unimaginable wealth and success in this land. This is contrasted expertly with the tradition of the Winklevoss boys and their code of honor - that nice boys finished last.

So, you don’t have to be a WASP, and a dominant alpha male to succeed in America today. You have to be smart. This is what our education system now promotes and what we have before us in theory and in practice. Like Hemingway, judging the black-hat vs. white-hat thing is up to the viewer and their life experience.

He did not need the list to make the site successful. He needed it as a matter of principle.


Because he thought the Phoenix Club members have contacts and connections with powerful, trendy and cool people. Thus they could spread the website better then anyone else Mark knew.

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