At only 26 years old, Facebook’s founder and CEO becomes the youngest person to win this award since US pilot Charles Lindbergh in 1927.
In 2003, Mark Zuckerberg was a 19-year-old Harvard student who began an “an online directory” that connected “people through social networks at colleges.” A mere 7 years later, he has built a social (and monetary) empire, and has gone to become of one the youngest billionaires and most influential people in the world. This year, Facebook friended its 500 millionth user, began competing head-to-head with Google for Web domination, accounted for 1 in every 4 pageviews in the US, and the story behind its success has already become the stuff of legend (Hollywood legend, of course).
“For connecting more than half a billion people and mapping the social relations among them,” TIME says, “for creating a new system of exchanging information; and for changing how we all live our lives, Mark Elliot Zuckerberg is TIME’s 2010 Person of the Year.”
Just a month ago, Zuckerberg was only tenth on the list, which was being led by comedians Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert (fresh from their “Restoring Sanity” rally in Washington, DC). But finally Zuckerberg rose to the top, beating, among others, the Tea Party, WikiLeaks’ founder and revolutionary Julian Assange, and the 33 Chilean miners. No small feat in the least, though since TIME readers’ themselves voted for their favorite person online, it is not difficult to think that Facebook might have been on their minds more than the president of Afghanistan.
About Facebook’s future, Zuckerberg told the magazine: “If the last five years was the ramping up, I think that the next five years are going to be characterized by widespread acknowledgment by other industries that this is the way that stuff should be and will be better.” It seems Mark is just only getting started.