Is Mark Zuckerberg Up To The Job?
Fellow at the Rock Center for Corporate Governance Vivek Wadhwa is quoted by Dan Lyons of the Daily Beast on the progression of public perception towards Facebook.
At Harvard, Mark Zuckerberg was a superstar student, a computer prodigy able, in his spare time, to bang out the lines of code that would become Facebook, a transformational company that in eight years has changed the world.
But in his first big test as a CEO—Facebook’s initial public offering of stock—the baby-faced 28-year-old flunk-ed, and badly. Worse, in the wake of this overhyped and poorly managed stock deal, the guy in charge was nowhere to be found. He wouldn’t do interviews, or even make a statement.
None of this is the right image for a company that is trying to convince 900 million users that it can be trusted with their personal information. “I have no doubt that this is going to hurt their business,” says Vivek Wadhwa, a research fellow at the Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford Law School. “Facebook has gone from being a darling to being a villain. Zuckerberg went from being seen as this child-genius rock star to being seen as a thief. People have lost their savings.” (Part of Wadhwa’s research at Stanford involves developing ethical guidelines for startups, “so we can educate people like Zuckerberg before they learn the hard way,” he says.)
This pressure is likely to tempt the company to use the one tool it has for reliably monetizing: data. Lots of it. The IPO disaster simply creates an incentive to pry even deeper into the lives of users, “the one thing people hate most,” Wadhwa says. Facebook can track people even when they’re not on the site, watching where they go and what they do. That information, sliced and analyzed the right way, could be of great value to advertisers.