Mark Zuckerberg is NOT a bad person

Star of The Social Network and boy genius behind Facebook is the stuff of successful entrepreneurs

You have to see The Social Network.

It’s the best movie yet about today, computers and the new era in business. The movie has great dialogue, pacing, plot, music, and suspense. It is well worth seeing.
The reviews almost turned me off. Pundits were quoting the line “Zuckerman is an asshole.” Sort of “yeah he is rich and started Facebook but is he human?”
Human? The guy was a genius even if the movie does fictionalize some of what happened during the creation of Facebook.
He had the brilliant idea of an internet social media site and executed beautifully. He was so good about it that 500 million people like what he has given them.
Did he shed a few people along the way? Of course, they were either leaches or dead weight. The twins are the leeches. “I have an idea and now you owe me.” That’s what I call a brain fart. You have it and it evaporates. 
Zuckerman saw the idea – not their idea his own – and developed into something not to make money but to give people what they wanted, a social connection. He then executed the idea.
 
Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg, the genius behind Facebook (left)

When you have an idea that is a game changer, so unique and revolutionary that it will change the world – the people who get to stay in the game are the one’s who keep the vision with you.
Eduardo Severin may have been Zuckerman’s best friend and first CFO but he also became a boat anchor. He wanted to commercialize the site too early. Severin didn’t get the vibe it would take to make Facebook popular. Of course, financial skulduggery like closing the bank account is grounds for severing the relationship.
Zuckerberg did keep and remain loyal to the original programmers who started with him. You have to stay in the game to earn loyalty.

In the crucible
Start up software ventures are the crucible of business. Everything has to happen in Flikr-time.  Flickr, the photo hosting site with 5 billion images on line, was developed in 2004 in Vancouver BC. In 2005, the owners sold it to Yahoo.
Facebook made the jump from idea to multi-company release within a year, Flickr-time. To Zuckerman’s credit, he resisted the urge to cash out and remains the spiritual guide at Facebook.
He is actually a nice guy who wrote me personally when I had a problem with Facebook last year. The problem was of my own making but he took the time to resolve it.
There is no time for mistakes, waiting for people to catch up. You either execute the idea and get market acceptance or die.  Software companies die like spring flowers.
I know – I had one. My single idea was a Windows billing system for water utilities. It wasn’t rocket science but it was new since everyone in the business was using old text based screen.

We didn’t have a speedy internet back in 1990 and the development tools were awful.  Located in Prince Edward Island, I had the world’s smallest talent pool for IT smarts. In the 1990s you could take 2-4 years to bring a client server project to market.

Along the way I collected one development head who stalled for three years. When I replaced him, the next one tried to protect his job by never finishing the code. My development partner Great Plains Software never delivered the development tool they promised. My first CFO tried to steal the company behind my back until I caught him and fired him. The financial wizards in Toronto wanted to dump me and ended up killing the golden goose.
You can’t keep people who aren’t going in the same direction at the same speed in IT.  Getting rid of them is a survival strategy. It doesn’t make you an asshole.
The people who left all found work more suited to their talents. The CFO skulked around the background long enough to buy the code, after I left the company. They couldn’t get rid of the development head since he was hoarding the source code. Great Plains sold out to Microsoft. Lord knows what they did with the code on that project. Our Toronto venture capital firm lost a boat load of other people’s money and the principal retired later in disgrace.
By the time we survived all those crisis, the moment had passed. Seven years was too long. That’s what happens when you don’t act quick enough to shed people without the same drive and vision.
Mark Zuckerman didn’t stop for the dead weight that surrounded him and that’s why we like Facebook so much.
Great movie.

By Stephen Pate, NJN Network

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1 Comment

  1. Great article. And with the personal experience to back up your opinion, I agree that winners are not bad people. Lead, follow or get out of the way.

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