November 7, 2011
Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg returned to Harvard University on Monday to enlist new talent for his social networking site.
It's the 27-year-old CEO's first official visit to the Ivy League school since he left in 2004. Relations between the two have sometimes been prickly. He met with Harvard students and officials after a recruiting visit to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology earlier in the day.
At Harvard, hundreds of students lined up to watch Zuckerberg as he briefly spoke with reporters.
Zuckerberg said he's back because "there's a lot of really smart people here."
Aaron Perez, an 18-year-old freshman from Poughkeepsie, N.Y., says Zuckerberg gives hope to students wondering if they'll be able to find a job. He says Zuckerberg's invention changed the world and is one of the reasons he chose to study computer science.
Another first-year student, Madeline Halimi, 18, of Brooklyn, N.Y., said Zuckerberg gives her encouragement to study more, though she's still making her mind on a field of concentration. She said he makes her proud of Harvard.
"What's really weird is wondering whether the person next to you will be the next person to invent something that changes the world," Halimi said. "It's a lot to live up to."
Harvard computing officials were working on their own university-wide online directory when Zuckerberg created Facebook as a campus-only social network. The then-sophomore told the campus newspaper, The Harvard Crimson, it was silly that the university needed years to create the site.
"I can do it better than they can, and I can do it in a week," he said.
An earlier Zuckerberg creation, Facemash, almost led to his expulsion after he hacked university computers for student photos.
The Boston area's status as a center for technological innovation is much improved since Zuckerberg left to launch Facebook in California's Silicon Valley, according to local entrepreneur Dharmesh Shah, who is chief technology officer and co-founder of HubSpot, a marketing software company. Shah also runs a blog devoted to technology startups.
Shah created HubSpot while an MIT student. He considered basing his new company in San Francisco but wanted to stay close to MIT and the area's growing talent pool.
"There's a vibrant ecosystem here," he said. "There's always been this stereotype that startups on the East Coast won't take as much risk as the startups you see on the West Coast, and that held us back. But it's changing. I've never seen it as vibrant as it is right now."
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.