Investors this week have been chattering about what they’ve deemed to be proof that Mark Zuckerberg is some sunglasses-wearing, too-cool-for-the-corpo-bots, uppity youngster during Facebook’s pre-IPO roadshow.
The guy wore a hoodie?! How crass.
“I think that’s a mark of immaturity," Michael Pachter, an analyst for Wedbush Securities told Bloomberg TV. "I think that he has to realize he’s bringing investors in as a new constituency right now, and I think he’s got to show them the respect that they deserve because he’s asking them for their money.”
Zuckerberg: widely lambasted for keepin’ it real.
For some, the suit remains the pinnacle symbol of seriousness, but it would be foolish to assume Zuckerberg’s disinterest in ritualized pandering concludes that he isn’t serious. Far from it, if history is any indication of one man’s quest to take over the online world. Seriously, he’s just as cutthroat as any Armani-wearing boardroom wolf out there. Think about it:
Mark Zuckerberg simply doesn’t care: He’s cold, cunning, and calculated. He doesn’t care about friendship, he doesn’t care about money, and he certainly doesn’t care what you think of his hoodie just like he doesn’t care that you sort of hate Timeline. If Google was “Do No Evil,” Facebook is “Do Whatever It Takes.” For Zuckerberg, winning is everything and he’s clearly okay with pissing people off along the way. He’s a founder laser focused on making his product “kewl,” and as an investor, isn’t that exactly where you want him to be? (Whether or not that’s good for everyone else is another story.)
And it’s not like he has to: His arrogance is grounded in reality. With his majority voting stake, Zuckerberg answers to no one, a situation he has been keen to preserve and a luxury he deftly exercised when he bought Instagram for a cool bill, basically behind the board’s back. While the top brass over at Yahoo are busy fluffing their resumes with fake comp sci majors, Zuckerberg is making moves. Is it any surprise that Scott Thompson wears a suit like a champ?
He’s also surrounded himself with a solid team: Much like the late Steve Jobs did during his sequel stint at Cupertino (with much credit going to his no-nonsense attitude towards firing people), the Facebook founder, keenly aware of his personal limitations, has recruited a team of worthy lieutenants. Instead of Tim Cook, Zuck has ex-Googler Sheryl Sandberg, a partnership one longtime Facebook exec called “a blessing from the Gods”:
For some Zuckerberg skeptics, it’s the quality and stability of the management team he has built that’s made them believers. To attract and retain people like Sandberg, who don’t need to work and can work anywhere, he has had to first be a good boss—talented people don’t like working for assholes—and, second, to let go of aspects of his company that another founder might have clung to. One former Facebook executive believes that the management blunders Zuckerberg made in Facebook’s early years are part of what has made his partnership with Sandberg work so well. The former exec likens this experience to the mistakes he made in relationships before he got married: “All that learning and fucking up in the past is what makes me a great husband.”
The Zuckerberg-Sandberg duo has been so successful—annual revenues have increased from $150 million to nearly $4 billion since she came aboard—that it has now become a new model for tech company-building. Instead of replacing the quirky founder with a professional CEO, companies now try to “go get a Sheryl.”
So Zuck, unsurprisingly, will continue to do Zuck. There’s no sense in changing a winning formula this late in the game, which, for now, means no suit, and that’s if he even shows up at all. The real question: Does any of this actually make Facebook worth $100 billion? Not that it will matter much to those buying into the hype machine that is tech’s second great bubble. Facebook is hot shit right now.
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