Why Mark Zuckerberg should have a Carol Bartz moment

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Everyone seems to be against Mark Zuckerberg, founder/CEO of Facebook, lately.

Shel Israel says he should step down.

Market Watch’s Therese Poletti says he had a Nixon moment on stage at the AllThingsD Conference.

Jason Calacanis details what Zuckerberg should do to regain trust, all while noting that he imploded on stage at AllThingsD.

Even Steve Jobs was schooling Zuckerberg on privacy. More on Jobs later.

Heck, on this week’s Gillmor Gang, even +I+ was saying that Zuckerberg should put Sheryl Sandberg into the CEO role and should go and run R&D, basically agreeing with Shel Israel.

Part of me wants Mark to tell us all to go to hell and keep changing the world. He would be justified in having a Carol Bartz moment. After all, in his 26 years he’s done more than me or Calacanis TOGETHER will ever do. To detail:

1. He has — in less than seven years — created a company that has hired more than 1,000 people. How many other USA companies have hired 1,000 people in Silicon Valley in the past five years?
2. His company has been valued at many billions of dollars.
3. His company has created a platform that supports, among many companies, Zynga, which also has hired 800 employees (it’s only two years old) and my friends are throwing around valuations of billions for Zynga.
4. His company has 500 million people using it around the world and most love it a lot. My wife still is effusive with love over Facebook.

He’s done 100x more in his few years of running Facebook than Carol Bartz has AT ANY COMPANY! In her entire career! But she felt enough confidence to tell off Mike Arrington, on stage at his own conference, and telling him to “f*** off.” (that part comes at about 25 minutes into the video of Bartz on stage at Techcrunch Disrupt).

Zuckerberg, for some reason, doesn’t have that kind of personal confidence to clearly answer questions and also tell all of us to f*** off.

He should take some lessons from Bartz and have his own “Bartz moment.”

After all? How many people have I hired? 1? Israel? 0. Calcanis? 40? Even add Arrington’s 15 into the pile, it isn’t even a wart on the pile of people Zuckerberg has hired.

Have any of us changed the world the way Zuckerberg has? No. Not even close.

Have any of us caused Google to look at itself differently? No. Not even close (even Bartz hasn’t been able to do that).

Plus, he’s 26 years old. I’m not as smart or done as much and I’m 45 years old. Heck, add us all together, that’s more than 100 years of living more than Zuckerberg has and, yet, we haven’t accomplished nearly as much.

Heck, Calacanis has done such a poor job of being a CEO that he doesn’t even talk about HIS OWN COMPANY anymore. Zuckerberg should have just stared back at him and asked him “how’s Mahalo going again?”

OK, OK, now I’m going to tell you why Mark should still step down. Even though his answer to me SHOULD BE to “f*** off.”

1. Life is too short to do stuff you don’t like to do and it’s clear that Mark doesn’t like being the public face of Facebook. He doesn’t enjoy it. If he did, he would be happier on stage and wouldn’t be sweating. I’ve seen him up front and close and he’s far better when he starts talking geekery than when he is trying to represent Facebook’s business interests. I’ve recently turned down some pretty serious money to do something else because I wouldn’t enjoy it as much as what I’m doing now for Rackspace. This is something I ask myself every week or so. “Am I having fun?” If I’m not, I’m going to do something else. So should Zuckerberg. Not to mention Zuckerberg ALREADY has financial freedom I’ll never know in my life.

2. I’ve been studying Zuckerberg for a while and comparing notes with people who know him even better than me, like David Kilpatrick, who wrote an excellent book on Facebook, and it’s clear Zuckerberg has a vision for changing the world with social technologies. If we get his brain focused more on the technology side of things and less on the representing Facebook side of things I think we’ll win more. Do we really want Zuckerberg in front of Congress trying to convince politicians that Facebook isn’t evil? No. He has far more value to all of us focusing on the tech side of things, even though he’s hired very well and built a world-class organization that is disrupting Silicon Valley in a huge way.

3. My boss evaluates the job I’m doing every six months and we look at whether I’m doing more good or harm to Rackspace. I think Zuckerberg should do the same with his performance. Could he find a role that would let him use his skills in a better way? My report card of him? Hiring: A+. Mergers and Acquistions: A+. Technology leadership: A-. Execution: B+ (only because they could have gotten privacy right when they first shipped). Ability to sell: D-. Ability to positively affect perceptions: D-.

It’s clear to me where Mark has considerable skill. So why is he trying to do something he clearly isn’t having fun at? Just to get the experience? Or is there some other reason, like ambition and wanting to be the next Bill Gates? (Bill, by the way, has always sucked at public speaking and hasn’t been a loved character either, until recently when he started to save the world, so, again, why shouldn’t Zuckerberg tell us all to screw off?)

I come down to #1 the most. If Mark called me tonight and asked my opinion (he has not) I’d focus on that. Is he having fun? He sure doesn’t look like it. To me that would lead me to tell him to step down from CEO and take on a role that he’d have more fun with, like head of R&D.

But, if Mark was on the phone and I gave him that advice I’d be secretly hoping he’d tell me (and Calacanis and Israel and all the rest of the chattering masses) to screw off and have him go off and change the world again.

Oh, and back to Steve Jobs. If I were him I’d worry that I’ve lived without my iPhone for seven days so far and I haven’t missed having the crappy cell phone service from AT&T, not to mention I like having the extra features of the Android OS that aren’t yet available on the iPhone. Now, most of those features are rumored to show up on Monday but Steve should worry about AT&T. More and more of us are deciding to leave iPhones because of that (to me AT&T’s quality is worse than ANY of Zuckerberg’s privacy problems). Jobs should also worry about the kinds of anti-Apple stuff I’m hearing from developers lately, too. One developer just wrote me and told me his app hasn’t been approved for two months. How is THAT not worse than anything Zuckerberg has done to our privacy? Jobs should worry more about what his own company is doing rather than poking at Zuckerberg.

About Robert Scoble

As Startup Liaison for Rackspace, the Open Cloud Computing Company, I travel the world with Rocky Barbanica looking for what's happening on the bleeding edge of technology and report that here.

80 thoughts on “Why Mark Zuckerberg should have a Carol Bartz moment

  1. If he's not having fun, you're right, he should do something else. That being said, I was reviewing some of the stats on Facebook for a marketing project for a client (see here if interested: http://seewhy.com/blog/2010/06/10/10-eye-poppin…) and how could it not be fun to run a company that is this successful???

    Zuck is about to completely take over the Internet. That has to be at least a little bit fun. Very hard to step away from that level of power.

  2. Jason says and does what ever makes him look good to Google and Matt Cutts. His entire business model for Mahalo is built around kissing Google's butt.

  3. Robert, you don't have to approve this comment, Censor it with full abandon as you long as you get the core message, Please can you try not to delay publishing the comments which agree the least with your blog posts. I for one have begun to notice, your scented flora appear first with their comments. It is only after you have published a fresh post, so the previous one is stale and loses its readership, hey presto, the least agreeable comments start appearing. It clearly allows you state you don't censor, whilst influencing the audience sizes for viewing favourable versus unfavourable comments. Lets keep the debate fair. In any case some of my more successful blogging friends seem to practice the mantra no publicity is bad publicity. It is you preaching greater transparency on the web. Lets see you practice it. Thanks!

  4. If you remember Apple threw out Jobs, the best tech CEO of all-time. You want me to point a bigger mistake. What Zuck is trying is in new uncharted territory and FB is surely trying to get it right. I don't know what motivated you to talk Apple here – a 30 year old technology behemoth against a 5 year old company.

  5. Let those saying Mark Zuckerberg should step down first learn about his age, how valuable Facebook is and whether or not any one of them can do better. Then tell him to step them if they have the gull to match his.

  6. The irony here is that everyone's perspective is based on Facebook being so big and therefore nobody is properly challenging the fundamental business model which in the grand scheme of things is still failing!

    In my humble opinion, if Zuck could monetize in a more logical way and build trust and style instead of riding roughshod over both, he could have billions of users and may even be revered/ 'liked'. … Maybe Mark Zuckerberg is finally showing his vulnerability by his recent actions and demonstrating his limitations by pandering to inevitable investor pressures and the sheer size of the business… who knows! But it is all about context… or maybe there is a sign that some very powerful people are circling on the basis that it is now too big to Zuck up!

    Personally I still think the big 'identity' money or the 20% of the 80:20 rule is outside the platform, which should itself just gradually become a utility like a telephone or electricity. Then maybe the whole world would be truly connected and Zuck gets his vision realised… but advertising as a model won't achieve it in my view. (Facebook last year still only did 700m revenue vs Yahoo at 6.5bn) Depends how far he wants to go… I hope it won't all be a contrived sell out to tie in with the movie and that there is some integrity buried in there somewhere.. Lord knows the world could do with some at the moment and on his opt out approach to privacy and cynical rape/ commercialization of Wikipedia's generously contributed content, provided to a public asset not Facebook's back pocket, I currently couldn't care less what happens to Zuck! and if Sheryl winked at me, I'd bite…

  7. Carol Bartz took an already existing company that had about 250 million in sales up to 1.5 billion in sales. Impressive, but not even close to starting a company from scratch and getting to $700 million in sales, not to mention a second company exists on top of his that is doing somewhere around $300 million a year in revenues. Geesh, you REALLY think what Carol did is more impressive? I don't. As for her job at Yahoo, well, she swears a lot. What else has she done there yet?

  8. I do not believe he or I suggested that, however; I know as customer of Rackspace and I am willing to bet that I can call your CEO to esquire about your belief that Zuck has delivered to the people that pay your salary.

    PLZ oh PLZ give me shit.

    Bottom line, are you the measure of your convictions?

  9. I do three things for them: 1. I'm their ambassador to Silicon Valley and SF tech companies (they are in Texas, I live here and attend lots of events for Rackspace). 2. I help them with PR, I know most of the world's tech press. 3. I travel the world learning about the bleeding edge of the Internet for http://building43.com where I, and Rocky, do videos and also bring that learning back to the company so they keep their offerings up to date.

  10. I think the swiping at Calacanis is way out of line. Can anyone refute anything Jason said that wasn't true about Zuckerberg?. The only thing people can throw at Jason is that he hustles or he is opinionated or brash. Since when did we start looking down on that?

    This entire post seemed to be more about you Robert then Zuckerberg. Your own shortcomings. However I think I have finally figured you out: You are just a harmless unapologetic geek who does try to help entrepreneurs. I actually think you are somehow trying to “help” Marc with this post. I don't think it will work, but it's too late to hit the delete button now.

  11. Bartz is someone who likes the spotlight.

    Zuckerberg is someone who does not.

    Bartz is very personable.

    Zuckerberg is not.

    Facebook is very personal.

    Yahoo is not.

    Bartz's language is seen as part of her colorful personality, the celebrity CEO telling it like it is.

    If Zuckerberg tried that, it would be seem to be very creepy and dismissive.

    Bartz takes aim at Yahoo's critics, most of whom are analysts and pundits.

    Zuckerberg would be directly telling his users to f**** off.

    The main thing both Bartz and Zuck have in common is not really answering questions.

    Bartz uses obscenity to hide it.

    Zuckerberg rambles on in a stream of consciousness.

    Both of these approaches seem to work for their CEOs.

    Why should Zuck be like Bartz?

    Why would Bartz start acting like Zuck?

  12. Your friend Gary Vaynerchuk has pointed out that Zuckerberg just signed a *five year deal* with Zynga at *30 percent*.

    Privacy, shmaivacy. He's got the Zynga account and the Farmville people, they give up their privacy to play their games. Mission accomplished. Let the rest of the world squawk, he's making bank.

  13. 1). Scoble, you're totally right. 2). I never understood why the CEO has to be the default face of a company. Scott Monty's doing a bang up job for ford. 3). The social media definitely needs to find someone ridiculously persuasive representing us in front of Congress

  14. This piece and all of the comments seem to operate firmly within the tradition of Corporations as the Heroic Adventures of their CEOs. So Facebook is seen as Zuckerberg's achievement, therefore Zuck must be way cleverer than us, and it's seen as a success like Apple or Whole Foods or Lexus.

    I'd like to suggest that Facebook is not a success because of its management. Social networking websites have a circular 'winner takes all' quality in which users flock to the site that is perceived to be the site that everyone's going to. And the users create the value for the other users. When an entire sector has that characteristic, the market leader doesn't have be smarter than the competition. One of the players is going to get lucky because of network effects.

    Facebook got lucky because somebody had to. It's the logic of the sector. The challenge now is, can it hang onto what it's got? Can Facebook stay top dog, or will it go the way of MySpace and Geocities? Thus far, we've seen social websites as startups. We haven't seen what it's like to be an incumbent, a market leader trying to hold its market share against new insurgents. And we don't know what tactics will work.

  15. Despite the over-active sweat glands on stage, and any personal thoughts I may have about FB and its privacy regime, I think Zuck still has some tricks up his sleeve and is shrewd enough with his public face that he'll keep folks guessing for a while to come.

    For instance, while I may be giving him more credit than I should, I think his posturing around the sweatshirt on stage was a bit of shrewd PR. Never mind that the insignia looks like something straight out of a Dan Brown novel, consider how much free publicity that he and FB have gotten over the last few days because of it. Also, consider that D8 was full of big names vying for the spotlight and somehow he's managed to grab the lion's share of the press coverage.

  16. Quantity or quality, please elaborate on “He’s done 100x more in his few years of running Facebook than Carol Bartz has AT ANY COMPANY”. What is “more”? “More” what? I would hardly characterize $500 million in revenues and marginal profitability as more of much that matters in the “real world” compared to Yahoo, AutoDesk, and so on.

    In any case, humor me and explain what “100X more” is all about…

  17. I allow all comments unless they are racist or illegal or are spam or something else that doesn't add to the conversation. In your case I was simply sleeping and first time commenters get stuck in moderation.

  18. I allow all comments unless they are racist or illegal or are spam or something else that doesn't add to the conversation. In your case I was simply sleeping and first time commenters get stuck in moderation.

  19. I sure hope Zuck has made a big change to the way we perceive the web.

    And no, every other good big Silicon Valley company has not made the kind of mistakes with people's privacy and information which Zuckerberg has. Period.

    Jobs “own vision” has resulted in a $232.9 Billion marketcap, which is based on real revenues from customers who pay a premium for the experience and have never been attacked by a virus.

    Apple's market cap is almost 10 times Facebook's Market cap of $25 Billion, which is based on future potential advertising revenues assumed by an investor. To make those future potential revenues Mark Zuckerberg & those great hires are betraying his users' trust and repeatedly making them vulnerable to a worm that attacks their computers – oh yeah, IF they are working on a PC and not a Mac.

    The consumer purchase market which Apple aims for is 7 times bigger than the advertising market. Apple's market is growing. The advertising market is shrinking.

    Let's see. Who else thinks Jobs “vision” is pretty cool? Let's see the company with the dominant share of the internet advertising market, Google, is launching its own phone to compete with Apple. Oh and the guy who established Google as the dominator in the internet advertising market, Tim Armstrong, is pursuing a content strategy at AOL.

    Hey but if you want to tell everyone that Zuckerberg knows best, I'm sure Jobs, Schmidt, and Armstrong are all saying – “good luck with that!”

    Katherine Warman Kern
    @comradity

    Katherine Warman Kern
    @comradity

    Why on earth no one

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