The character of King Trillionaire is based upon a real person, but only in the first chapter of this book. After that the character undergoes a literary transformation and becomes a purely fictional character. Information about the life of this real person has been researched from published articles and documents claimed to be factual, and as such are intended to be factual statements of real people and real circumstances. The fictional character grown out of this real person is not intended to have any resemblance to him and should not be confused with him. The characters of his mother and wife are also intended to be fictional, and any resemblance to real people is either coincidental or accidental, because the author lacks knowledge of their true characters.
In the first chapter of this book the author may hold the real character portrayed by King Trillionaire to high moral standards, but this is not intended as an insult or offense, rather in the hope of raising important questions and improving the characters of people. In the author’s opinion, the real life man is a good-intentioned person who has achieved many admirable goals, and deserves commendation for these achievements, not a repetition of past accusations or criticism. Yet for historical accuracy and in consideration of public interest, it is better to report the good with the bad, instead of offering a one-sided view. In this way the commendation can be better appreciated, because it takes the criticism into account and offers a well-rounded opinion.
Chapter One: King Trillionaire
Head of a multinational corporate conglomerate, trillionaire, and king of two African nations; this is the story of the honorable and the admirable, King Trillionaire, the venerable. Previously known as the co-founder, chairman, and chief executive of a global social networking website, he was also the youngest self-made billionaire, and is the world’s first trillionaire. All this, and much more, to the acclaim of our publicly lauded hero, but first I will narrate the story from its beginning…
King Trillionaire came from humble beginnings. He was born in a city on the East Coast and raised in a village just north of New York. His mother is a psychiatrist and his father a dentist, and he is the second child from a suburban household with three sisters. If anything may be said of King Trillionaire’s beginnings, it is that the personal computer was his tool to fame and the digital revolution was his path to riches.
King Trillionaire grew up in a hilltop house, with his father’s dental practice attached to the basement. His father was an early user of digital radiography and taught him Atari BASIC programming, later hiring a software developer to tutor him privately. Both the house and the dental office were full of computers, and a discerning mind adapts to its settings. When his father declared his desire for a better way of announcing a patient’s arrival than having it yelled at him by his receptionist, the then twelve-year-old King Trillionaire built a program that allowed the computers in the house and the office to send messages to one another.
It was basically a primitive version of AOL Instant Messenger, which came out the following year. The receptionist used it to ping his father, and the kids used it to ping each other. On one occasion, while his sister was working in her room downstairs, a screen popped up informing her that her computer had been taken over by a deadly virus and would blow up in thirty seconds. As the machine counted down, she ran up the stairs shouting, “King Trillionaire!”
Some kids played computer games. King Trillionaire created them. His friends used to draw pictures, and King Trillionaire would build computer games out of them. He enjoyed developing computer programs, especially communication tools and games, and advanced so far until his private tutor could no longer keep up with him. King Trillionaire started taking graduate computer courses while still in middle school. When his father dropped him off at his first class, the professor looked at the father and said that he couldn’t bring a kid to the classroom with him. The instructor soon learned that the teenaged King Trillionaire was to be his student.
When he was in the eighth grade, King Trillionaire showed his science teacher a computer program he created, using the science room’s lone computer. It was a wire frame display of rocks and crystals that rotated, giving viewers a 360-degree view of the crystal on the screen. This was an impressive feat for the time, when digital animation was still in its adolescence, and his teacher was markedly and justifiably impressed. Yet this same teacher would not say that King Trillionaire was at the top of his class, although he would admit that he was certainly a smart and well-adjusted kid. The teacher seems rather to remember him most for his sense of humor and hearty laugh, as a happy kid who got along with every social group and was well-liked by his classmates.
Perhaps the science teacher did not specialize in advanced math and computer programming, which were King Trillionaire’s interests and the most revealing qualities of his genius at the time. Or perhaps he was wise enough to focus on the overall picture, as the passions of King Trillionaire were not limited to these fields, but rested upon broader plains, which guided the development of his mind and body to the pursuit of a more rounded course. This allowed others to regard him as moderate and humble, albeit motivated and determined, as opposed to autistic and myopic; the way brilliant minds whose genius is limited to one field, and lack cognitive development in other subjects, may be regarded. King Trillionaire may have been regarded as a deep thinker with the ability to shut his mind to distractions when he wanted to, but not as clumsy or whimsical as one might think of a computer geek.
At the local public high school, King Trillionaire excelled in the classics. He ran cross-country, was on the fencing team, played Mario Kart and obsessed about Star Wars, according to teachers and family friends. In his junior year, he transferred to a prestigious prep school, where more dedicated coursework in computers and advanced mathematics were offered, to sate his growing hunger for knowledge. There he became captain of the fencing team and earned a diploma in classics. King Trillionaire won prizes in math, astronomy, and physics, learned to read and write in French, Hebrew, Latin, and ancient Greek, and could recite lines from epic poems by heart, although computers remained his central theme.
For his senior project he wrote software that he called Synapse. Created with a friend, the end product was a music player that used artificial intelligence to learn the user’s listening habits. The application spread on technology blogs and was very popular, catching the attention of both Microsoft and AOL, who offered to buy the software and recruit its teenaged inventors. But King Trillionaire declined their offers, uploading the app for free, and opting instead to enroll at Harvard University.
By the time he arrived in Cambridge, King Trillionaire had already established his reputation as a programming prodigy. He studied psychology and computer science, and joined the Jewish fraternity, Alpha Epsilon Pi, where he met his future wife at one of their parties. King Trillionaire had a knack for creating simple, addictive software. Early on in his sophomore year, he wrote a program, which he later incorporated into his social networking website, that allowed users to make class selection decisions based on the choices of other students, and also helped them form study groups.
At the end of that semester, cramming for an art history exam, he also uploaded five hundred paintings to a website, with one image per page along with a comments section, where students could share their notes, much as on Wikipedia. The required information was populated within hours by the combined effort of like-minded students, who allegedly performed much better on their exam than expected. King Trillionaire would later use this same concept to translate his social networking site to foreign languages. This would also become the main concept behind his social networking website, as he provides the platform and users add the content.
Midway through the same semester, towards the end of October, King Trillionaire developed a program that allowed users to select the best looking person from a choice of student photos. In order to procure these photos, he hacked into the secure Harvard database of student dormitory Face Books and uploaded their images to the Internet. The site went up over a weekend, but by Monday morning the college shut it down because its popularity had overwhelmed Harvard’s server and prevented students from accessing the Internet. In addition, many students complained that their photos were being used without permission. King Trillionaire made a public apology, while the student paper criticized his site for being improper, but ultimately the concept could not be forgotten and would serve as a prelude to his next best success.
This came at a time when students were appealing to the university to develop an internal website that would include the pictures and contact details of students in the dormitories. Now they feared that this latest episode would compel the administration to shelve the idea. King Trillionaire heard these pleas and decided that if the university would not do something about it, then he would, and he would do it better than they could, and so began the building of the social networking website that changed the world.
King Trillionaire, aided by three of his roommates, began developing the social networking website from his modest dorm room, the initial site being very basic and geared only towards Harvard students. After the site was completed, early on in February, he signed up to it and asked his roommates and future co-founders to sign up as well. Then he told them to invite friends, and put the site up on the web. Within a few days thousands of curious Harvard students had signed up to it. By the end of the week, that number reached four thousand. In two weeks, it was half the student body of Harvard. King Trillionaire spent hours each day in front of the computer, managing the site, all while balancing time between his studies and his girlfriend. The walls of his dorm room filled with graphs and charts showing how many people signed up, who used what application, and who had the most friends.
After a few weeks, King Trillionaire opened up the website to other universities. He began with campuses where he knew people who could promote the site, namely Stanford and Dartmouth, but the site’s growing popularity quickly attracted students from other campuses as well. Every user specified which university he belonged to, allowing him to network with other students at that campus, although all the networks were unified under one site. Soon enough the graphs and charts on his walls began to be filled with statistics from other campuses, and he realized that the website he had built was becoming much larger than anticipated, and more than his college dorm, and limited time and budget, could handle. He teamed up with his roommates and, after completing their second year at Harvard, they relocated to the West Coast to work fulltime on this rapidly expanding project.
Over the summer King Trillionaire and company teamed up with more people and secured an investor, moving into their first office. He and his roommates had originally planed to return to Harvard, but by then the company had grown so large, with limitless expansion on the horizon, that the sensational words of “manifest destiny,” offered early on by a Harvard newspaper to describe the growing mood, were becoming a true gauge of the reality. They would not return to Harvard the next year. Soon enough they would even receive substantial offers to sell their website, but King Trillionaire declined all of these offers, confident in his abilities and understanding the true potential of his company. He later explained that it was not the money that was held in question, but the ability of media corporations owned by conglomerates to achieve his dream and stated purpose, of providing a platform for the open flow of information between people.
Whether this admirable mission statement reflected his true sentiment or was a wise marketing scheme, is irrelevant, because the resulting success has been evident. King Trillionaire quickly achieved his goal of facilitating the open communication between people. His website serves a number of uses, from person to person conversations, individual to group dialogues, the sharing of private information, making, and keeping in touch with, friends, spreading ideas, marketing products, and organizing public events; from flash mobs to wedding halls, and up to social rallies and even political revolutions. His website can be compared to the attachment of the telephone to the telegraph line, because it has made communication over the Internet that much easier. In fact, the criticism has even been that King Trillionaire made the flow of information overly free and open.
We will begin our reckoning of this criticism early on, in that stretch of time that lingered between the outrageous success of his distasteful Face Book photo selection website, to the igniting of that great social networking wildfire that spread over the digital world. In that time two twins and one mathematician approached King Trillionaire, hoping to use his acclaimed talents to further their own plans. They asked him to build a social networking website for them, which he claims more closely resembled a dating service. King Trillionaire led them to believe he was indeed advancing their cause, all the while using the time extension he had procured for himself to beat them to the launching of his own site.
Their accusation was that King Trillionaire stole the moment, the idea, and its execution, fooling a hypothetical employer into believing he was running their business, while in reality he was building his own company. On the surface these accusations may have had some substance, but a closer look at the circumstances reveals that they were unfounded. For one, the concept of a social networking website was not new but had been attempted before, and was even requested by the students. The idea was not implanted into the mind of King Trillionaire by his accusers, nor did they own a copyright on it. The moment, though, was seized deceitfully, with the execution, that was delayed cunningly, yet this was not theft per definition, but a betrayal at its worst portrayal, or a clever tactic at its best depiction.
If moral or not is the question, then surely the answer is not, but do the means justify the ends? Perhaps. Perfection is always the ideal, yet in an imperfect world, boldness of action is not enough to achieve a just end, for trying obstacles must always be confronted along the way. In order to overcome the less desirable wants of other interested parties, one should find it most expedient to fight daggers with daggers, because a pen may be potent beforehand, and its value is unequaled in writing the aftermath, but its ink will spill vainly on the battleground.
These twins sought to make King Trillionaire their employee and wield his talents to their own benefits, but King Trillionaire turned their wants against them, because he was not made to serve them. How many more brilliant minds have been pressed into the service of less remarkable persons? The world is replete with lost genius and wasted inspiration. The twins thought to make a fool out of King Trillionaire, but he sure fooled them. Their greatest desire, it appears, was to milk the cow, which is what they eventually achieved when settling outside of court, lapping over the life’s supply of milk diligently provided them. Yet King Trillionaire retained the company he had founded through innovation, talent, and dedication.
This bears a slight resemblance to a case brought before the great King Solomon of Jerusalem. Two women dwelled in one house, both mothers of newborn sons, one mother being negligent while the other dedicated. The negligent mother slept on her son and smothered him. When she woke up and found him dead, she swapped babies with the other mother who was still asleep. Once the sleeping mother awakened and saw the dead son beside her, she observed him closely and noticed that he was not hers. Now both mothers claimed the live son, and Solomon was presiding over the court. He ordered the living son to be cut in half before their eyes, with each mother to be given half. The negligent mother displayed her satisfaction, while the dedicated mother cried out. She preferred to have her son turned over to his kidnapper than see him cut in half. Solomon was perceptive and quickly restored the live son to his true mother.
In the previous case, both “mothers” were working on a social networking website. One “mother” had been working on it on and off, without advancing forward. The other “mother” advanced rapidly in the right direction, without assembling all of her successes into the finished product. When the lazy “mother” observed the energy and talent of the diligent “mother,” she asked the diligent “mother” to care for her son and nurture him. The diligent “mother” feigned agreement, all the while caring for her own son and weaning him into something extraordinary. When the lazy “mother” saw that her child was neglected, while the other child was growing rapidly, she complained that she had been defrauded and took the child back into her bosom. She made a halfhearted effort to raise her son, but gave up and abandoned him, instead setting her sight upon the prodigy child, to claim him for herself. Now I ask you, to whom does the live child rightfully belong? To the neglectful “mother” who let her son die, or to the dedicated “mother” who nurtured her son with all her warmth and energy so that he would live and grow most prosperously?
There is no doubt in my mind that the “child” belongs to King Trillionaire, but why did he need to trick these twins, when he had the ability to beat them fairly? Why did he feel so threatened by them? The answer offered by Hollywood was that the twins were popular and wealthy, and social media is a popularity contest, subsidized by hard cash. Being neither popular nor wealthy, and relying solely upon his talent and hard work, King Trillionaire must have feared that his better connected competitors would hire someone who is hard working and talented, like him, leaving him handicapped in a race of titans. He therefore bought himself time deceitfully, allowing the other side to start the race only after he had already crossed the finish line.
There was another man who thought this way. He too was an unlikely early starter who began his life on the sidelines. His name was Alexander the Great. Although his father was the king of Macedon, the Greek city-states were only partially united in those days and they dwelled on the fringes of the civilized world, harassed by the wealthy and vast Persian Empire. When Alexander inherited his father’s kingdom at the age of twenty, he rapidly consolidated his reign, leading his modest army into Asia Minor to confront the much larger forces of the Persians. It was said that whoever could undo the Gordian knot would become the king of Asia. The knot allegedly perplexed Alexander, so he hacked it apart with his sword, claiming that the method mattered less than the result. Within three years he conquered most of the Persian Empire and later advanced into India as well.
It is not the untying of a knot that makes the conqueror, but the striking of a sword. Yet Alexander’s greatness was not derived from his breaking of the rules, rather he broke the rules because his greatness would not let them hinder his advance. The greatness of Alexander led him to charge adamantly against enemies far larger than him, to defeat all those considered stronger than him. Strength should not be estimated by physical size, popularity, or wealth, rather by will and power of the mind. Your younger self disappoints me King Trillionaire, because you had not yet learnt this lesson. Cheating or deceiving your enemy in order to gain a handicap, does not strengthen your will but handicaps your vitality. You could have defeated your enemy fairly and then your success would have been all the more astonishing.
Which leads us to the rest of the criticism mentioned earlier. The trouble with an open media, with open communication and the open flow of information, is that unauthorized hands may gain access to private information, ideas, and rights. This has been characterized as a philosophical battle, in which King Trillionaire thinks the world would be a better place, and more honest, if people were more open and transparent, while others feel it is not worth the cost for a lot of individuals. The same man who builds a platform for others to share their knowledge and secrets, can also hack into a secure server to share their private information, search their emails and electronic communications to spy on them, deceive them into sharing information they thought was private, or fool them into believing he is a friend when in fact he is an opponent.
Where does one set the line? Is the provider of the platform also the owner of the content, or does the content belong to the users or the public at large, with the platform becoming the public domain, like a city square or park? Does the platform provider have the right to mine the users’ information in order to market to them and sell their privacy to others, or does he have the responsibility to limit his powers and refrain from taking advantage of unsuspecting users? Does the platform provider have a right to gain advantage of the content provided by users, or do the users have a right to gain advantage of the platform? In the long run, it is the platform provider who brings individuals together, but it is the individuals who provide the content and make the platform popular. The line must be set somewhere in the middle, because if both sides do not stand to gain, they will not meet each other halfway.
This is the dilemma of governments and people, or kings and their subjects. If a king pushes the line against his people, he can make them slaves and himself a tyrant. If the people push the line against their king, they can make him a puppet and themselves hopelessly tangled puppeteers. An open society with an open media can also become a constrained society, shut under the watchful eye of a big brother. Openness and transparency may be construed as honesty, but they may also lead to deceitful gossip and libel. Trustful honesty can unite distrustful honest people, but it can also tempt dishonest people to take advantage of honest people conditioned to trust them. A platform that lacks built in safeguards and makes no moral guarantees, is a like a government that has no laws and no justice system. Even implementing safeguards and making privacy statements may not be enough, when one becomes like a government that has no respect for laws and no love of justice.
These dilemmas and many more have appeared in the life of King Trillionaire and he has answered them. This is the life of a man who has united people together in friendship but also struggled to keep them from turning against each other or deserting him. He convinced nearly one billion members to join his social network, leading the world’s largest digital organization of men, and also turning himself into a billionaire. Then he took his company public, selling its stock to strangers, and leading its value to be questioned publicly. He married a woman, and showed the world that he also values his own privacy.
One billion people sharing their secrets publicly delivered billions of dollars into his pockets. Then billions of dollars raised by selling shares in his billion users, led their values to become devalued. It required but one woman to show the world that one wife matters more to him than one billion friends, because even public companies are led by private men. Two people can start a family, while thousands of shareholders can lose their money. But there is yet meaning to be made of all this, as young and restless men may grow into mature and patient fathers, even becoming wise and respected elders.
This is the story of King Trillionaire: The man with the posture and stride of a king, the mind of a genius, combined with the skill of a master tactician, animated with the will of a general, and all that wrapped in a fair and ruddy complexion, covered with radiant red-brown curls, and marked by reserved glowing blue eyes, that blaze outwards upon gazers without scorching them. He set his eyes where others dared not look, and turned a forlorn wasteland into a golden paradise.