It might be built on science, but Silicon Valley can be as fickle and fashion conscious as any Paris couturier. Back in 2004, for example, social networking looked trivial and grubby; truly cool programmers worked on swapping copyrighted music and movies. Even robotic Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was swept up in the trend, planning to sacrifice his now-$75 billion social network for a file-sharing venture, according to newly released instant messages.

Business Insider has obtained another exclusive batch of Zuckerberg IMs, and they show that when the Harvard dropout was 20 and had just moved from Cambridge, Massachusetts to Silicon Valley, he planned to sell Facebook so he could fund Wirehog, his largely forgotten system for private file sharing among friends. From a July 2004 chat:

Confidant: Well you should recover the shares you need to recover legal fees.
Zuckerberg: I won't pay the legal fees
Zuckerberg: The company that buys us will haha
Confidant: Cool hopefully that'll be soon so you can move on and just work on what you want to
Zuckerberg: Well it just needs to propel Wirehog
Confidant: So you have gotten responses to your national recognition?
Zuckerberg: Responses from whom?
Zuckerberg: Some more VCs. Still talking to Google and Friendster.

Two Google executives did visit in 2004 "to see if there might be a way to work with or even buy" Facebook, according to David Kirkpatrick's The Facebook Effect, but nothing came of the talks. Which makes sense: Google was already in the midst of squandering its own social network, Orkut, because Google "viewed social networking as a frivolous form of entertainment rather than a real utility." Instead of Facebook, Google that summer bought Picasa, a photo organizer. Photo sharing: So, so 2004.