Dispatches from the D8 Conference:
5:08 pm: My God, Zuckerberg is literally dissolving in a lake of his own sweat. He is visibly flushed, and you can see the beads of sweat rolling down his face. Could this be his Nixon moment?
Kara sympathizes, suggests he take off the hoodie he's wearing, "You all right?" she asks. "We're not even yelling at you...yet." Zuckerberg refuses to take off the hoodie. I never take it off, he says. Then he wipes the sweat from his brow, looks at the resulting water stain on his arm, says "whoa," relents and takes it off.
What's wrong with this picture? Well for one, CEOs are not supposed to wear sweats to their own keynote, and conference live-blogs are not supposed to sound like dispatches from a train wreck. A hoodie? Oh the humanity!
Considering the current gravity of Facebook's privacy dilemma
and the fact that All Things Digital is the only tech conference to have a stated dress code
, Zuckerberg's sartorial flippancy and subsequent public meltdown on Wednesday conveyed the following message: We don't take our users' need for privacy seriously. At least not seriously enough to put the public face of our company through media training, or have the relatively more collected Facebook COO Sheryl Sandburg give lip service to an audience of tech luminaries and media influencers.
In his exchange with the Wall Street Journal's Kara Swisher
and Walt Mossberg
, Zuckerberg insisted on keeping the hoodie until his strange profuse sweating -- the room was ice-cold -- eventually lead him to take it off. What's even more ridiculous is that the Facebook CEO then joked about bombing Mossberg's privacy questions by proclaiming awkwardly that he does better in internal meetings because, "I get to wear my hoodie there."
More from the disaster watch on the D8 liveblog:
Given his performance today, one wonders if [Zuckerberg] is really qualified to be the public face of his company.
Zuckerberg will be CEO when his company goes public, and there is a good chance that he'll outgrow his Nixon moment
(So did Nixon; he got elected in '68 and '72). But no matter how well Zuckerberg may do internally, Facebook is no longer a summer project or quirky startup; With nearly 500 million
users comes great responsibility. If you're not actually listening to public feedback, then at least pretend like you are. Put on a jacket or at least a shirt with buttons. Or relinquish power to someone who will.
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