Facebook's Zuckerberg gets Harvard star treatment

Tue Nov 8, 2011 3:42pm EST
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By Adam Tanner

CAMBRIDGE (Reuters) - Mark Zuckerberg returned to Harvard officially for the first time Monday, winning a warm welcome from the university where he created Facebook and embarked on a well-chronicled meteoric ascent.

It was clear Zuckerberg was no longer the dropout who left the iconic Ivy League institution, even if he still dresses in the classic campus uniform of T-shirt, jeans and sneakers.

If he weren't so famous, the billionaire and Silicon Valley entrepreneur portrayed as the flawed protagonist of the Oscar-nominated "The Social Network" could have passed for any one of the hundreds of computer science students who came to hear him speak.

"It didn't seem it was that different than talking to other Harvard students," said Kyle Solan, 19, a computer science major afterward. "He seemed very down to earth."

Just a few blocks from where he started the world's largest social network, Zuckerberg took part in a rare question-and-answer for students, who snapped up tickets to the event with the same frenzy reserved for favorite bands.

"We weren't originally planning this as a business or anything," Zuckerberg said sheepishly of the phenomenon that Facebook would become. "If I had a chance to do it again I would have gone to classes."

Zuckerberg's rock-star reception marked a sea change from when the entrepreneur famously landed himself in hot water for creating Facemash, a website that allowed users to rank their fellow students' attractiveness and an incident immortalized in the film.

Speaking at his usual machine gun clip, Zuckerberg appeared every bit as driven as the character Aaron Sorkin imagined for "The Social Network". But his bluntness and occasional humor in response to questions ultimately won the crowd over.   Continued...

<p>Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks to reporters at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts November 7, 2011. REUTERS/Brian Snyder</p>