IN A FEW SHORT YEARS, FACEBOOK HAS ROCKETED FROM A DORM-ROOM IDEA to a household name, and its creators—Mark Zuckerberg and his friends from Harvard—have become legends in the history of technology entrepreneurship. Without much capital, and (mostly) independent of big partners, they’ve created a platform in three years that now figures near the center of the Web 2.0 movement. Facebook has become a “social utility,” to use the company’s own terminology, that fuels and documents tens of millions of human relationships. The company’s meteoric ascent is already the subject of entire books of its own.
In the fall of 2007, Harvard dropout Bill Gates’ Microsoft invested $240 million in Harvard dropout Zuckerberg’s Facebook. Microsoft ...