1. "We were in the right place at the right time."
hit movie "The Social Network," a college student dumped by his girlfriend reacts by building a crude precursor to "Thefacebook" website. And while Mark Zuckerberg, the entrepreneur portrayed, has said the girlfriend "doesn't exist in real life," the success of his invention is anything but fiction. Facebook has 500 million regular users, up from 100 million two years ago, and is now the most visited site in the U.S., according to data tracker Hitwise.
While social networking wasn't new when Facebook appeared in 2004, industry observers attribute its success to a mix of luck, ambition and strategy. "Mark had all three in spades," says David Kirkpatrick, author of "The Facebook Effect." By initially limiting access to students from select colleges, Facebook (which declined to comment on much of this article) could choose where and when to roll out, protecting it from too rapid growth. The early requirement that people use real names was also a boon. "There was an appetite on the Internet to be yourself and connect to your real friends," says Kirkpatrick.