There is a scene about midway through The Social Network, the new David Fincher movie about Mark Zuckerberg and the founding of Facebook, in which Zuckerberg and his business partner, Eduardo Saverin, meet with Sean Parker, the celebrity Internet entrepreneur and co-founder of Napster. The scene takes place in the spring of 2004, when thefacebook.com had been out long enough for people to realize it was big, but not long enough for anyone to grasp how big. After many rounds of Appletinis and much discussion of how the Internet business world operates, Parker (played by Justin Timberlake) leaves, but before he goes he imparts some advice to his younger colleagues: “Drop the ‘the.’ It’s cleaner.”
This is a nifty bit of storytelling, in which a magnetic personality with only a little bit of substantive input manages to charm the Internet’s Next Big Thing with a beautiful grasp of marketing.
Except it’s not really accurate. Facebook was initially known as The Facebook because the rights to “www.facebook.com” were already owned, and Facebook wouldn’t actually be able to purchase the rights to the cleaner domain until the summer of 2005.
But, as I said, the scene makes for good storytelling, and that’s really what Fincher and Aaron Sorkin, the film’s screenwriter, are after with the movie. Continue reading »