Zuckerberg Train Wreck

Just witnessed the most disastrous keynote event — Sarah Lacy of BusinessWeek interviewing Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg. Wasn’t that interested to begin with, but Lacy was an embarrassment to herself. Flirting with Zuckerberg. Cutting him off left and right, then insulting him when he looked puzzled. Repeatedly turning the conversation back to herself. Bringing up semi-private moments from the past. Getting facts about his life wrong. Teasing him about his age. At one point she compared herself to Leslie Stahl of 60 Minutes (“I feel you, Leslie!”)

Zuckerberg has become an artful dodger, dancing around many of her transgressions politely (rendering everything he said pretty banal). Between the two of them, it felt like a high school TV journalism class gone horribly wrong. Except that it happened in front of thousands of people.

I walked out halfway through. Outside, in the halls, everyone was talking about the debacle, re-hashing the worst moments.

Update: The interview was such a disaster that c|net has an article about it. Wired has another. Whoa – Lacy’s video response. She seems oblivious to just how bad she really was, tries to blame the crowd and the “mismatch.” So it’s confirmed – Lacy is on another planet.

Here are the notes I had taken up to the point I walked out anyway (not juicy).

Just trying to help people connect and communicate efficiently. But all the subtle connections amount to something much larger and more powerful.

Launched in Columbia and immediately people started using it to revolt against the Government. Maybe we could have predicted this would happen, but we didn’t – it was a synergistic effect.

Facebook and terrorism: FB has a large population in Lebanon. Terrorism doesn’t come from a deep hatred of the U.S. It comes from lack of empathy and understanding. There are a lot of people who are at a crossroads in their lives, and information goes a long way in shaping them.

We want the way we monetize to be in line with the way people use the site.

We’re looking decades forward – building out the social graph is not trivial, and will unfold over 10-20 years.

Beacon – It’s not even part of the ad team – it’s part of the platform team. We think the vector is moving away from a monolithic site and toward a collection of social services. We need to give people complete control over what gets shared and who it gets shared with. 25% of people on FB have their phone numbers shared. They can do that because they can control who gets to see it, limit it to their circle of friends. Almost all of the mistakes we’ve made have been because we didn’t give people enough control.

We believe that people are basically good. The product you get is a function of the incentive structure you’ve set up. We’re changing the incentive structure so it’s less a set of rules and more a trust-based system. e.g. If a lot of people sign up for notifications from you, you become more trusted and are abel to do things like send more messages, send more requests.

4 Replies to “Zuckerberg Train Wreck”

  1. I finally watched some of the video that’s available of this (just excerpts sadly). It’s clear she badly misjudged the situation.

    Lacy is an excellent reporter and writer, and one of the ways she gets her stories is by spending a lot of time with entrepreneurs, getting friendly with them so that they open up and tell her things. But that technique is not what works on stage. A stage interview is a completely different animal.

    Also, her body language was all wrong: Zuck is sitting forward in the chair, engaged and talking to the audience; Lacy is sitting back, legs crossed, looking almost bored and impatient.

    Jeff Jarvis has a pretty good, if unflinching, analysis:

    It’s s shame because I hate to see a journalist (esp. one I know and respect) raked over the coals so mercilessly. And what pisses me off is that people aren’t just criticizing her, they are saying shit like “worst interview in history” or “kick Sarah Lacy off the internet” which is just plain over the top. But she wasn’t on the ball yesterday, it seems clear.

  2. I am sure you meant Colombia, not Columbia.

    I am glad my colleague mneptok has a sharp eye for this stuff. :)

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