At the kickoff roadshow lunch for Facebook’s IPO earlier this week, 27-year old CEO Mark Zuckerberg showed up in a hoodie.
This caused no end of squawking–first, from Wall Street analysts, one of whom seized on the hoodie as evidence that Zuckerberg is “immature” and incapable of running the company, and then, second, from Silicon Valley, which collectively denounced the analyst as a pretentious doofus.
So, who’s right? Wall Street or Silicon Valley?
Well, I actually think there’s reasonable possibility that Zuckerberg wore the hoodie as a joke. He’s perfectly capable of wearing a coat and tie–he wore one all year a few years ago, to signify that it was “a serious year” for Facebook. And his penchant for hoodie-wearing has been so remarked-upon that he may well have grabbed it to be funny.
It’s also possible that he wore it because that’s what he happened to be wearing at that moment and because he did not view the act of asking professionals to give him $5-$10 billion as a reason to adjust his attire.
One thing seems certain: Zuckerberg is the first man in history to ask for that much money while wearing a hoodie.
But something else should finally be clear to Wall Street folks, if it isn’t already:
Mark Zuckerberg really doesn’t give a damn about you.
He said as much in his letter to prospective shareholders, which is included in the IPO prospectus.
Specifically, he said:
- “Facebook was not originally created to be a company. It was built to accomplish a social mission.”
- “We think it’s important that everyone who invests in Facebook understands what this mission means to us, how we make decisions and why we do the things we do.”
- “We don’t build services to make money; we make money to build better services.”
- “We don’t wake up in the morning with the primary goal of making money”
- “We’re going public for our employees and our investors.”
In case it isn’t, here’s a quick translation: Dear Wall Street: Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t give a crap about you. He cares about his product, not you or your business or “returns.” He views you as a source of liquidity for his employees and existing investors. He’s only taking the company public because he has to.
Furthermore, Mark Zuckerberg owns 57% of the voting control of the company. So, he really, really doesn’t give a crap about you. And he doesn’t have to! You are not legally entitled to tell him what to do.
So if Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t feel like putting on a tie to address a bunch of boring money-dweebs in suits (you), he’s damn well not going to.
And if he doesn’t feel like beating your earnings estimates this quarter, he’s not going to do that, either.
And so on.
So listen up, Wall Street. This is your final warning. Whether the hoodie was a joke or not is irrelevant. Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t care what you think of him. And he’s going to do exactly what he feels like doing at the helm of Facebook, regardless of what you say or do.
(And I don’t mean to be rude, Wall Street, but Mark Zuckerberg is actually wise not to care much about you. First, as discussed, he controls the company. But second, most of you don’t do much to deserve much attention from CEOs. Your average holding period for stocks is now measured in months and quarters, not years. Most of you care mostly about how the company will do this quarter, a time-period that is generally distracting if not outright ridiculous for a CEO with a long-term vision. If you ever go back to your old ways, when you owned stocks instead of renting them, then maybe it would be smart for CEOs to care about you. But in the meantime, Zuckerberg’s on to something.)
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