If things had shaken out differently, Adam Goldberg might have been the troubled genius protagonist of The Social Network. When Facebook first launched back in 2004, Goldberg’s CU Community, a Columbia-based version of the same concept, was already up and running. “At first I was like, Oh my God, they copied my Web site,” Goldberg tells Slate. But then he realized that Facebook was just a simple directory, with far fewer features. “I didn’t think there was that much competition.”
But Facebook saw CU Community, which would later be called Campus Network, as its competition. It started expanding to other schools, including Columbia. When Campus Network began expanding itself, Facebook would leap immediately into the same markets. At one point, Facebook considered buying its rival. Instead, it flew Goldberg to a meeting and offered him a high-level job. He refused. “I really believed Campus Network was a better product,” he said. But Facebook had more money, a better strategy, and an easier interface—it quickly prevailed.