Today at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, Mark Zuckerberg wowed the audience as it had become clear that he was definitely the renewed person that we previously described. One tweet that circulated summed up the entire event: “Suddenly, Zuck turns from awkward geek into confident leader of the social web. Room breathes a sigh of relief.”
Mark Zuckerberg provided two quotable phrases during the interview that contributed to the audiences “sigh of relief”. The first was in response from an audience question about what lessons he had learned as a celebrity CEO. He replied that he had ultimately made a lot of mistakes, however “If you build a product that people love, you can make a lot of mistakes.” Were these lyrics of a rhyme? Not at all! So why am I calling him a rapper? If I were to equate entrepreneurs to rappers, the black books that entrepreneurs jot their product ideas in are just like the binders that rappers fill their lyrics with, their most prized possessions. The most successful rappers drop incredible lyrics, while the best internet entrepreneurs build quality products, something Mark Zuckerberg is obsessive about.
Want to take the rap metaphor further? Look no further than Jay-Z’s new book, “Decoded” which came out today (this book is incredible … you should buy it). In it he describes how CEOs have suddenly become more sexy than artists. The pioneer of this movement being Russell Simmons, founder of Def Jam and numerous other comapnies. One statement stood out to me though:
The whole vibe of start-up companies in Silicon Valley with twenty-five-year-old CEOs wearing shelltoes is Russell’s Def Jam style filtered through different industries. The business ideal for a whole generation went from growing up and wearing a suit every day to never growing up and wearing sneakers to the boardroom.
While Mark Zuckerberg is now 26, it was a close enough parody that this quote resonated, especially since Zuck isn’t the only young exec in the Valley running an internet startup (although he has become the leading one). So in true form to the rap style, Zuckerberg provided another quotable phrase for the media to hang on.
In a discussion with John Battelle and Tim O’Reilly, Zuckerberg noted the inaccuracy of the map of the internet landscape which was sitting on stage. “Your map is wrong. The biggest part of the map has to be uncharted territory – this map makes it seem like it’s zero-sum, but it’s not. We’re building value, not just taking it away from someone else.” This was a shot across the bow of the majority of the tech media, including our own site. The best headlines are that “New Facebook Product Will Kill Google”. However I can’t apologize for such headlines, as we are focused on driving clicks.
Mark was in fine form though at the event and he left the audience wanting more. If Mark were a rapper, two sentences wouldn’t have been enough, however what was most impressive was that these were off the cuff statements, something the best artists are known for.