(this is a post I wrote for my globeandmail blog, which is here)
When talking about the Internet, it often seems as though time has sped up. Take YouTube, for example: A year ago, Chad Hurley and Steve Chen were just a couple of former PayPal employees kicking around looking for something to do with online video, and now they are seasoned veterans of the startup scene who just sold their company to Google for $1.6-billion — which is roughly the Web equivalent of winning the Powerball lottery and the World Poker Championship at the same time.
At a recent conference of heavyweights in the media, entertainment and Web fields, the YouTube dudes were pretty much old news. Not that everyone didn’t want to be seen with them, of course, but the “It Girl” of the moment was another young startup CEO: Mark Zuckerberg, who started a little social-networking site called Facebook with some friends while he was at Harvard (the Harvard Crimson had a great piece looking at the Facebook team last year), and is now rumoured to be looking at buyout offers in the $1-billion range.
Apparently, the weight of such an enormous amount of money — not to mention the chance that it could never materialize, which must keep the founder of Friendster awake at night — isn’t having much of an effect on young Mr. Zuckerberg. According to the New York Times, he showed up at the FourSquare conference dressed in jeans and a blazer, and wearing Adidas sandals on his feet (sans socks).
Mr. Zuckerberg is also the one who reportedly told Microsoft executives, who wanted to talk about buyouts, that a conference call before 10 a.m. wouldn’t work because he didn’t get up that early. In an interview last year with Marketwatch reporter Bambi Francisco, he wore what appeared to be surfer shorts and a T-shirt that said “My mom thinks I’m cool.” When Bambi asked what kind of presentation he gave to the VCs who wound up giving the company $13-million, he said he “didn’t really prepare anything formal.”
The Adidas sandals the 22-year-old CEO was wearing at the FourSquare conference may or may not have been the same ones he wore in the photo that ran with this Rolling Stone magazine feature. The article says that Zuckerberg was a teenaged computer whiz who put together his own mp3-player software while in high school and turned down a $950,000 offer from either Microsoft or Musicmatch in order to attend Harvard.
Zuckerberg also says “We’re not doing this to cash in. We’re doing this to build something cool.” Yes, but building something cool and then cashing in — what a combination.
Valleywag, now being written by Gawker supremo Nick Denton, says that Zuckerberg is rumoured to be in talks with Barry Diller’s IAC Corp. about an acquisition.