Saturday, September 25, 2010

Thief or Benefactor?

This kid, Mark Zuckerberg, who is the same age as my daughter, looks like just any other 20-something.  But he’s worth a fortune, over 6 BILLION dollars.  And this week he’s making lots of news.
The Facebook movie, which chronicles the development and success of this social networking phenomenon, recently debuted.  It casts significant doubt on who really owned the idea that resulted in the product that he claims as his own.  
I read an article in the September 20th New Yorker about Zuckerberg, which depicts him as a somewhat shy, nerdy guy who has always been thinking in the fast lane when it came to new technology.  I am in great awe of people who can think outside the box like this kid (yes, he is really just a kid) does.
I love the fact that even with all his money, he rents a house, owns a run-of-the-mill Acura, and consistently refuses to sell his company, even for a billion dollars.  He is just not a very materialistic person.
I sent the article link to my son, the intellectual property lawyer, who concluded that he probably did use someone else’s idea, but he noted that Zuckerberg had paid them 65 million dollars for the idea.  And that’s a lot of money for an idea.
Is it pure coincidence that just as the movie debuts, Zuckerberg is making one of the largest gifts in history to the Newark School System?  A gift of 100 million dollars, noting that he always had the luxury of going to good schools and he would like to see the kids of New Jersey have the chance for a better education.  
He claims to have tried to make his bequest anonymously, but was convinced to go public.  So the question is will history prefer to remember Mark Zuckerberg as the kid who made his mark by stealing someone else’s intellectual property or as the benefactor who kicked the Newark schools up a notch?  I suppose time will tell and he will eventually become an adult who hardly misses the 100 million he parted with.


Blogger e said...

At least he is willing to do something positive with some of the money he has made...

I do not have a Facebook account and have been scolded by bloggers and others for not doing so. Despite understanding the importance of social media as a tool for individuals and institutions, I prefer a bit of privacy, even if it is illusory.

5:56 PM  
Anonymous Media Concepts said...

Interesting post. In the future, I don't think most people will care where the idea came from. I don't think most people care now. I think Facebook will be studied for its many social & societal implications.

The one I think about the most is why the FB folks ALWAYS choose "rob you of your privacy" as the default setting for each of the site's features. They have been heavily criticized for this, yet they still do it.

5:27 AM  
Blogger Merle Sneed said...

Lots of people have ideas. Not too many make them work.

2:13 PM  
Blogger Gary said...

This is the cover story on New York magazine (Sept. 27) but I havent' read it yet. Thats a ton of money! How wonderful that he is giving back to education. We could use it.

4:58 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

E -- I'm with you. Although I have a FB account, I'm not sure why because I never use it. It's not about privacy for me, but rather more online time that I would rather use for other things.

MC -- Good to hear from you after a long while. FB folks are trying to make every dime they can, so of course they default your settings to maximize the effect of their advertising, the only real source of their revenue as far as I can tell.

Merle -- This guy is obviously one who knows what to do with a good idea. I'm guessing FB will not be his last brainchild.

Gary -- Wouldn't it be great if all those with his means were so generous to the field of education? We might be able to make good on not leaving any child behind!

6:54 PM  

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