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Mark Zuckerberg Is Not An Insufferable Little Jerk, He Just Plays One On TV
Since his ascent to the top of the under-30 Web-entreprenuer ranks, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has become well-known for two things: invariably wearing open-toed Adidas sandals and saying, in front of audiences of analysts, investors, and the press, almost nothing of interest.
January 14, 2008
2 Min Read
Since his ascent to the top of the under-30 Web-entreprenuer ranks, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has become well-known for two things: invariably wearing open-toed Adidas sandals and saying, in front of audiences of analysts, investors, and the press, almost nothing of interest.The first sends the message, "I founded Facebook, I'm a billionaire, I can wear what I want." The second sends the message, "I have almost nothing of interest to say."
Last night's interview with Lesley Stahl on "60 Minutes" broke with the first precedent: the producers noted Zuckerberg's casual footwear, but he's upgraded to a cool pair of leather slip-ons. On the second score, however, Zuckerberg played true to form.
Of Facebook's profits, or lack thereof, he said, "As a private company we have the advantage of not really having to reveal our financial results." Of the Beacon ad fiasco (for which the Harvard-dropout founder was forced to make a reluctant apology), he said it's "actually a good thing" that somehow makes Facebook "less commercial."
"We have to make money," Zuckerberg stated, as if the $15 billion-or-so valuation now granted Facebook (which Stahl noted some analysts consider wildly exaggerated) means that the universe now owes him and his 400 similarly youthful employees a suitably inflated income.
Michael Learmonth, on Silicon Alley Insider, called Zuckerberg's performance "squirmy" (and noted that it drew the lowest "60 Minutes" audience of the year). I didn't find it that way at all: Zuckerberg didn't squirm, he just sat there dismissing Stahl's questions with the smugness that, because he's paper-rich, passes for brilliance.
You are free to dismiss this as the envious carpings of a Boomer watching Facebook's meteoric, and somewhat inexplicable, rise. But I have yet to hear Zuckerberg say anything insightful or "visionary" (a term that Stahl inevitably invoked) that would indicate that he's anything other than what he seems: a reasonably good coder who struck it rich by having a simple idea at the right time. He's like Shawn Fanning, minus the lawsuits. (Quick: Name Fanning's latest venture.)
I'll be shocked if he comes up with anything like Big Idea No. 2.
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