TRENDS: The face of Facebook
For the architect of a platform built on people disclosing information about themselves, founder Mark Zuckerberg is reluctant to reveal himself.
WHEN Hollywood set out to tell the story of how Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook, it enjoyed the flexibility of portraying a man who, despite his social network’s worldwide reach, was all but unknown to the public. A year and a half later, the movie The Social Network and the attention that followed have dispelled much of the mystery surrounding Zuckerberg, sketching out the essentials of his story line. But as Facebook promotes the vision of its 28-year-old CEO as part of the recent first-ever sale of stock to the public, one of the most striking features of his persona is the contradiction between the public and private that remains at its centre. Zuckerberg avoids questions about himself and once sued a magazine for publishing documents revealing details from his past. Yet he is the architect of a revolutionary platform built on people freely disclosing information about themselves, offering up the stuff of everyday life as worthy of the biggest stage. “Facebook was not originally created to be a company,” Zuckerberg wrote in a letter, included with a regulatory filing needed for the initial public offering. “It was built to accomplish a social mission — to make the world more open and connected.” Zuckerberg has built Facebook, which could be valued at up to US$104 billion (RM312 billion) by the stock offering, into an international phenomenon by stretching the lines of social convention and embracing a new and far more permeable definition of community. Along the way, he’s proven deft at recognising the way people use social networks, reshaping and expanding Facebook’s capabilities to draw in more users. Zuckerberg will remain the company’s largest shareholder. His personal stake in Facebook will be worth around US$19 billion. Living in a rental home even after he was a billionaire...
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