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Young Social Media Billionaires: Lessons we can all learn

Updated on January 26, 2013
The social media billionaires all had humble beginnings but became very wealthy in only a very short period of time.
The social media billionaires all had humble beginnings but became very wealthy in only a very short period of time. | Source

Who are behind all the successful social networking sites?

We live an an age of so many social media sites that it is hard to keep up. Different social media platforms exist and many of them are becoming increasingly popular. Behind these social media sites are interesting stories of young Internet entrepreneurs who all saw an opportunity and persisted until they succeeded. Many of these social media sites are young companies that became successful in only a couple of years. In this article I refer to Internet entrepreneurs of five social media sites that remain in the news and which seem to be growing. These entrepreneurs are all very wealthy today because of a gap that they saw in the social media environment.

Disclaimer: I am aware of hundreds of other social media sites. The inclusion of these five sites only is mainly to portray some sites that seem to be unlimited in terms of future success and is based on my own personal opinion.

Mark Zuckerberg
Mark Zuckerberg | Source

Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook

The story of Facebook is well documented in a movie The Social Network. Four Harvard students launched a social network in February 2004 which today has more than 900 million users. The CEO, 28 year old Mark Zuckerberg, has in the process become one of the wealthiest young people in the world. Facebook has an Alexa rank of 2 and makes its income mostly by means of advertising (Alexa provides information about pageranking based on traffic to sites and web usage of millions of users).

Facebook registered on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange on 18 May 2012 but did not perform as well as was initially thought. Facebook is already exploring new ventures, for example, the hardware business and even its own Smartphone by 2013 and seems to be ready for more billions.

Facebook also bought, Instagram, the 15 month old photo-sharing platform, for about one billion dollar from 26 year old founder Kevin Systrom, making him and his co-founder, Mike Krieger instant billionaires.

Ben Silbermann.
Ben Silbermann. | Source

Ben Silbermann of Pinterest

In March 2010 a new social image bookmarking site was launched by 29 year old Yale graduate and former Google employee, Ben Silbermann. After only having 10 000 users nine months after the launch, Pinterest today is one of the fastest growing social media sites with reportedly more than 12 million unique visitors per week and 20 million registered users. Users can save images according to different categories on pin boards which can then be liked or repinned by users to other users using a Pin it button. Many large companies use Pinterest today for branding purposes and to drive traffic to their own sites. Numerous other opportunities exist, including use by teachers for educational purposes.

Reid Hoffman.
Reid Hoffman. | Source

Reid Hoffman from LinkedIn

One of the oldest social media sites around, LinkedIn was launched in 2003 by 44 year old Oxford University graduate, Reid Hoffman and team members from Paypal and This professional networking site today has more than 150 million registered users worldwide and continues to grow. It was listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 2011 and is popular among professional people wishing to network with other professionals or sharing business related content. It reportedly has more than 47 million unique visitors monthly and a revenue of about 522 million dollars. It makes its income through advertising and has an Alexa rank of 12.

The three founders of Twitter.
The three founders of Twitter. | Source

Jack Dorsey, Biz Stone and Evan Williams from Twitter

With an Alexa rank of only 8, microblogging site Twitter is very successful and popular. Launched in mid 2006 by 30 something Jack Dorsey, Biz Stone and Evan Williams, Twitter today has more than 140 million users worldwide generating about 340 million tweets daily. Also referred to as “the SMS of the Internet”, users post short messages of 140 characters, follow other users and retweet other users’ tweets. Twitter makes its income mainly through advertising. Many celebrities have accounts at Twitter which increased the number of registered users and Twitter's popularity.

David Karp.
David Karp. | Source

David Karp of Tumblr

Launched in April 2007 by David Karp (at that time only 21 years old), Tumblr has quickly grown into a microblogging social network site hosting more than 45 million blogs. David spent several years in Japan sharpening his computer skills before returning to the USA to launch Tumblr. With Tumblr users can post multimedia content to their own blogs or follow or reblog other users’ blogs. The site currently has an Alexa rank of 37. It is not yet as successful as other social networking sites, for example Facebook or Twitter, but is steadily growing. It generates its income mainly through advertising.

What lessons can we all learn?

What lessons can we learn from these social media billionnaires?

  • They faced several obstacles but persisted until they had success.
  • They started small but then experienced rapid growth in a short period of time.
  • They were just ordinary citizens who had their own dreams.
  • Most of them are graduates from top universities.
  • They all saw an opportunity and did not hesitate to pursue it.
  • They are already exploring new opportunities and seem to be innovative.
  • Many of them were very young when they founded their social networking sites.
  • Some invested wisely to expand their businesses.
  • They contributed to the economy by creating much needed jobs.
  • They remained humble despite their wealth and success.



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    • Tricia1000 profile image

      Tricia1000 4 years ago from South Africa

      Hi Teresa, thank you for sharing this hub with your followers.

    • Teresa Schultz profile image

      Teresa Schultz 4 years ago from East London, in South Africa

      Well done to these youngsters, and thanks for sharing this interesting article with us. Oh to be like them - may be many a person's dream, but so much hard work and responsibility - but if they can manage it all, hats off to them! Pinterest is giving me many ideas lately, but more in the line of crafts and D.I.Y. - who know though, if I run with any of the wonderful ideas I'm discovering more about on Pinterest... And the site wouldn't even exist if it wasn't for one of the five (or 7 if you count 3 for Twitter) marvelous entrepreneurs you mention here.

    • Tricia1000 profile image

      Tricia1000 5 years ago from South Africa

      Thank you for stopping by. We all just need to take note of the opportunities around us like they did.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 5 years ago from The Beautiful South

      This was really interesting and shows us all aything is possible!