Facebook’s ‘Prince’

Bloomberg TV chronicles Zuckerberg's ambitions, trials

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg

Who knew how prophetic Mark Zuckerberg’s childhood nickname would turn out to be.

In a Tuesday night Bloomberg TV Game Changers series special on the Facebook founder and CEO, author David Kirkpatrick said that Zuckerberg, growing up as the only boy in a family with three sisters, was “kind of the prince.”

Considering his perch atop a social network of more than 500 million people, it certainly seems like Zuckerberg is ruling an empire.

“In fact, I think his parents called him ‘the prince,’ and he was treated accordingly,” said Kirkpatrick, who spent two years researching the social network and its young founder for his book The Facebook Effect. “So this is a guy without any problem of self-confidence.”

From a young age, Zuckerberg demonstrated that his audacity wasn’t without aptitude.

While still in grade school, he created a digital version of the board game Risk and a program called Zucknet that was like an instant messaging system for his family, the Bloomberg special reported. He went on to attract the likes of Microsoft with other projects even before he graduated from boarding school.

But the Bloomberg program didn’t just build up the child prodigy; it rehashed the struggles that have plagued Zuckerberg and the social network—Facebook’s series of privacy flaps, the ownership lawsuit with Harvard classmates Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss and Divya Narendra, and the negative portrayal of Zuckerberg in the movie The Social Network.

Mostly relying on footage from old Zuckerberg interviews and recent conversations with journalists and analysts who have covered the company, the special also highlighted the company’s escalating rivalry with Google and rumors of its expected IPO.

Jeremy Smith of SecondMarket, a company that provides an exchange for privately held companies, said that what makes Facebook so desirable to investors is its unique ability to gather data on users.

“It’s the holy grail of data,” he said. The special also said that Facebook’s social ads have been successful from the beginning.

But though Facebook’s massive trove of data has brought Zuckerberg a great deal of power and money, it’s also raised questions about his preparedness to handle all that personal information with care.

“He’s just as visionary as Steve Jobs. He’s going to prove just as influential as Bill Gates. But he’s not dealing with a piece of gadget, he’s not dealing with some program. He’s dealing with our lives,” said multimedia reporter Jose Antonio Vargas. “He’s dealing with our identities so that’s why I think were all going to have to keep him in check in a way.”