(10 of 10)
Zuckerberg tries to put himself in the heads of people who don't have his weapons-grade mental hardware, his immunity to peer pressure, his absolute mastery of his privacy settings and his gift for inspiring loyalty. In other words, most of the people who use Facebook. But it's a stretch. His EQ has its limits. He'll play at fallibility "Almost any mistake you can make in running a company, I've probably made," he says and he readily owns up to miscalculations like Beacon. But this is a guy so sure of himself that he walked away from a million-dollar payday when he was barely out of high school, who turned down a billion-dollar offer for Facebook from Yahoo! when he was 22 and whose self-control is so total that he drives an Acura when he could afford a Bentley. No wonder he doesn't see how challenging Facebook can be for the rest of us. He's his own perfect customer.
And he's just getting started. What looks like a meteoric rise to the rest of us, he sees as an opening act. Because now that Facebook has scaled up to a species-level event, the real work can start: taking a 550 millionperson network out on the highway and seeing what it can do. Zuckerberg could take the company public, but neither he nor Facebook needs the cash right now, so what's the point? Why give up control to a bunch of shareholders? This isn't the go-go '90s, when the goal was to sell up and cash out. It isn't, and never has been, about the money. "I think the next five years are going to be about building out this social platform," Zuckerberg says, on a long walk around Facebook's neighborhood in Palo Alto in December. "It's about the idea that most applications are going to become social, and most industries are going to be rethought in a way where social design and doing things with your friends is at the core of how these things work. If the last five years was the ramping up, I think that the next five years are going to be characterized by widespread acknowledgment by other industries that this is the way that stuff should be and will be better."
This won't make life any easier for people who aren't on Facebook. The bigger social networks get, the more pressure there is on everybody else to join them, which means that they tend to pick up speed as they grow, and to grow until they saturate their markets. It's going to get harder and harder to say no to Facebook and to the authentically wonderful things it brings, and the authentically awful things too.
But while this happens, Zuckerberg is going to be growing too. The Zuckerberg who built Facebook won't be the same person as the Zuckerberg who runs it. He'll be getting older, traveling, maybe getting married, having kids, and as his life outside Facebook gets more complicated, maybe Facebook, the world he built in his own image, will get more complicated too: more sensitive to the richness that exists outside it, in the real world, and to the richness that passes through it in such enormous volumes every second of every day.
But for all its flaws, there was no other way for Facebook to begin. Only someone like Zuckerberg, someone as brilliant and blinkered and self-confident and single-minded and social as he is, could have built it. "The craziest thing to me in all this," he says, "is that I remember having these conversations with my friends when I was in college. We would just sort of take it as an assumption that the world would get to the state where it is now. But, we figured, we're just college kids. Why were we the people who were most qualified to do that? I mean, that's crazy!"
He shakes his head, with the same perplexed expression as when the director of the FBI crashed his meeting. Then he decides.
"I guess what it probably turns out is, other people didn't care as much as we did."
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