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It’s a faulty premise. Or, at least we should include ability to network and/or make friends in high places in the definition of “merit”. Does anyone seriously believe that Facebook achieved its early success because Mark Zuckerberg was that excellent of a developer? The very name of it and the apparent utility and appeal, came from Harvard having a print Facebook. Not to mention an elite, influential userbase. Zuckerberg was obviously a talented and inventive developer, but at a large public university, he might have instead created the next Hot or Not competitor.

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