The Face of Facebook: Mark Zuckerberg, Revealed

If you’re reading this post, then chances are you’re probably on Facebook. Or at least have heard of it.

The latest piece in The New Yorker, “The Face of Facebook,” offers an intimate, revealing look into the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg. It’s definitely a piece worth reading, not least because it goes on to show how Zuckerberg has changed since his younger days at Harvard. I highlight some passages which I found interesting below.

With whom is Mark friends with on Facebook? And what are Zuckerberg’s favorite artists? (More about his favorites in a moment).

According to his Facebook profile, Zuckerberg has three sisters (Randi, Donna, and Arielle), all of whom he’s friends with. He’s friends with his parents, Karen and Edward Zuckerberg. He graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy and attended Harvard University. He’s a fan of the comedian Andy Samberg and counts among his favorite musicians Green Day, Jay-Z, Taylor Swift, and Shakira.
I like this description of Mark provided by his girlfriend, Priscilla Chan, who met Mark at Harvard party:
He was this nerdy guy who was just a little bit out there. I remember he had these beer glasses that said ‘pound include beer dot H.’ It’s a tag for C++. It’s like college humor but with a nerdy, computer-science appeal.
On the inevitability of Zuckerberg becoming a billionaire:
If and when Facebook decides to go public, Zuckerberg will become one of the richest men on the planet, and one of the youngest billionaires. In the October issue of Vanity Fair, Zuckerberg is named No. 1 in the magazine’s power ranking of the New Establishment, just ahead of Steve Jobs, the leadership of Google, and Rupert Murdoch. The magazine declared him “our new Caesar.”
On Zuckerberg’s mannerisms:
When he’s not interested in what someone is talking about, he’ll just look away and say, “Yeah, yeah.” Sometimes he pauses so long before he answers it’s as if he were ignoring the question altogether. The typical complaint about Zuckerberg is that he’s “a robot.” One of his closest friends told me, “He’s been overprogrammed.” Indeed, he sometimes talks like an Instant Message—brusque, flat as a dial tone—and he can come off as flip and condescending, as if he always knew something that you didn’t.

There are revealing and embarrassing instant messages that Zuckerberg sent regarding Facebook when he was still at Harvard. Zuckerberg seems apologetic, regretful:

When I asked Zuckerberg about the IMs that have already been published online, and that I have also obtained and confirmed, he said that he “absolutely” regretted them. “If you’re going to go on to build a service that is influential and that a lot of people rely on, then you need to be mature, right?” he said. “I think I’ve grown and learned a lot.”
What is Zuckerberg’s ultimate goal?
Zuckerberg’s ultimate goal is to create, and dominate, a different kind of Internet. Google and other search engines may index the Web, but, he says, “most of the information that we care about is things that are in our heads, right? And that’s not out there to be indexed, right?” Zuckerberg was in middle school when Google launched, and he seems to have a deep desire to build something that moves beyond it. “It’s like hardwired into us in a deeper way: you really want to know what’s going on with the people around you,” he said.
Regarding favorites, such as artists and books: what Zuckerberg lists may not necessary be his favorites (I sympathize with his explanation):

I asked Zuckerberg about “Ender’s Game,” the sci-fi book whose hero is a young computer wizard.

“Oh, it’s not a favorite book or anything like that,” Zuckerberg told me, sounding surprised. “I just added it because I liked it. I don’t think there’s any real significance to the fact that it’s listed there and other books aren’t. But there are definitely books—like the Aeneid—that I enjoyed reading a lot more.”

I think The New Yorker piece paints an honest portrait of Zuckerberg. While he may have been slightly immature in his teens and earlier twenties, he has grown up considerably over the last few years. I have a feeling that if I were to meet Mark in person, we’d get along.

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