In David Kirkpatrick’s “The Temptation of Facebook”, he describes the difficult business decision that Mark Zuckerberg faced as a young man. At the age of 26, Mark Zuckerberg had to make giant decisions that would forever affect his future in the financial world. Many top executives from influential companies were trying to convince Mark Zuckerberg to sell Facebook. Viacom was one of the tech giants who went after Zuckerberg’s company. Had Zuckerberg fallen prey to this and other companies, and took the bait that was dangled in front of him, Facebook would not be where it is today. (Kirkpatrick, 2010)
In an attempt to buy out Zuckerberg’s Facebook, he was wined and dined at the finest of restaurants. He was flown all over the country to various companies, and he had the red carpet rolled out for him upon arrival. Zuckerberg, a young man, once said, “The plane is amazing”, after arriving at his destination. The head of the Viacom Company responded, “Just sell us your company and you can have one for yourself”. Wow, what an offer for a young man. Normally, a young man dreams of owning his own car, but the thought of owning an airplane, that must have been intriguing for him. Likely, it was quite enticing. The CEOs coming after the Facebook Company knew exactly which buttons to push to spark a young man’s interest. It was as if Zuckerberg was a 5 star athlete searching for where to play collegiate sports. The companies threw the best of the best at him in order to get him to sell Facebook. (Kirkpatrick, 2010)
At the time of these meetings, Zuckerberg was single and living in a one bedroom apartment with a mattress thrown on the floor. Viacom offered Zuckerberg a 1.5 billion dollar deal but Zuckerberg replied “I don’t think that I will ever have an idea this good again”. One could only imagine what was going through a young man’s mind, what all he could do with $1.5 billion. Certainly, he could have gotten out of his one bedroom apartment and into a mansion on a hill somewhere. (Kirkpatrick, 2010)
Zuckerberg launched his site in 2004 from his dorm room at Harvard after paying just $35.00 to register his web address. He wasn’t doing it for the money at the time, he had a passion for geek-like hobbies. Zuckerberg paid $85.00 a month to a company to host his web site. Never did he expect the site to appeal to the public in the way that it did. Zuckerberg decided to relocate his company. He hired his roommate from college as his chief operating officer and tried to keep the company going. Zuckerberg was having to continually add servers which was costing him money. He got to a point, after exhausting his school savings that he realized it would take more money to keep the business going than he had. As the story went, Zuckerberg found an investor that he trusted and the rest was history. Currently, the company has approximately $20 billion in market value. (Lashinsky, 2016)
The Facebook story likely could not have evolved if Zuckerberg feared Facebook success and sold it. He was the mastermind behind it all, the one with the direction for the company. Other investors would have used his idea to accomplish a different purpose, thus changing the product entirely. The 1.5 billion dollars that he was offered in the beginning was just pennies as compared to the $20 billion market worth today. Once the investor’s money hit Facebook, new ideas evolved such as writing on someone’s wall. The ideas that Zuckerberg envisioned were finally financially able to come to life. Rather than selling out to investors, Zuckerberg stuck it out and became CEO of his own company. Being CEO of the company, the original Facebook ideas were not lost. Rather, they came to life in a big way. Zuckerberg stated that he enjoys being CEO of his own company. Sure, he had enough money to hire it all out, but remember that it all started with the passion of one young man. He held on to that passion by not selling out to other companies. (Lashinsky, 2016)
Mark Zuckerberg got married and had a child, and vowed to give away 99% of his Facebook shares to charity, etc. Had he sold his company early on, it would likely not be profitable and the sharing of profits would likely not be taking place. He quoted that his giving away of his wealth was to “advance human potential and promote equality for all children in the next generation.” This entire Facebook story would have been written very differently had Zuckerberg sold out to investors early on.
How can fears be overcome in order to provide grounds for inspiration? Apparently, Zuckerberg knew the answer to this question. Throughout the years that investors were trying to buy his company out from under him, he likely faced many fears and challenges. Some of his challenges were mentioned above. He was to the place that he did not have the money to move forward in many instances. He exhausted all of his savings that he had set aside for college on a dream and a passion that he had. He gave up his college career at Harvard, none less, to chase after a dream that he believed in. According to the referenced articles, he was at the point of tears many times in his quest for making Facebook a successful investment. The fear of running out of money, giving up on his college career, relocating, etc. likely plagued Zuckerberg as a young man. Surely, he had friends and family telling him he had lost his mind and was headed down a dead end street. As a young man, he likely gave up time with his friends to concentrate on making the company successful. He referred to himself, on occasion, as a nerd and a tech geek. (Kirkpatrick, 2010)
Entrepreneurs often face fears of how to meet payroll, how to spend investors’ money, etc. Often these fears choke out and even halt imagination and growth. In order to move ideas and companies forward, entrepreneurs have to overcome their fears. Some fear is actually healthy because it allows for better assessment of situations and smarter decision making. It is when the fear gets in the way of progress that there is a problem. Facing fears and working through them was Zuckerberg’s key to success. Certainly, Zuckerberg faced his fears and overcome them to provide grounds for inspiration for the next generation. By giving away his wealth to help the next generation, he is sowing into lives and helping others to conquer their fears as well. When young entrepreneurs read Zuckerberg’s story in Fortune, they gain insight and hope for a future in following their passion. (Hann, 2012)
One way to overcome fear is by shifting the focus of fears away from oneself and toward the end goal that is trying to be accomplished. Rather than worrying about the finances, crucial decisions, investments, etc. an entrepreneur should focus on what they are trying to accomplish. Fears often pale in comparison to the end focus. Sometimes, fears are not the fear of failure, but the fear of success. Famous people often cannot handle success and are most miserable. Successful and over achieving individuals often turn to addiction and suicide as a way out of a lifestyle that they were unprepared for. (Hann, 2012)
For a person to overcome fear in the business world and provide grounds for inspiration, the person must rely on intuition and common sense. Trying to accomplish too much too fast only adds to the fear of failure. Common sense and thinking critically about all situations allow for sound decision making and alleviated unnecessary worries and fears. The wise investor or business person knows the way to cultivate ability and how to get the most out of a situation. Through the use of knowledge, expertise and education, a person gains confidence and makes better choices. Better choices in turn lead to better outcomes. Better outcomes produce fewer fears and provide more inspiration. (Mamas, 2016)
In conclusion, the social world is happy that Zuckerberg did not cave in to his fears and sell the Facebook Company. His vision for social media has taken over the world. Through this vision, younger entrepreneurs have a role model. He has set the stage where fear has to flee in the face of success. Overall, everyone wins when fear is conquered. In this case, the inspiration and wealth that Zuckerberg has sewn into the next generation is incomprehensible.
- Hann, C. (November, 2012). How to Overcome Fears and Move Your Business Forward. Entrepreneur. Retrieved from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/224733
- Kirkpatrick, D. (May, 2010). The Temptation of Facebook. Fortune. Retrieved from http://archive.fortune.com/2010/05/06/technology/facebook_excerpt_full.fortune/index.htm
- Lashinsky, A, (November, 2016). The Unexpected Management Genius is Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg. Fortune. Retrieved from http://fortune.com/facebook-mark-zuckerberg-business/
- Mamas, M. (August, 2016). How to Improve Your Gut Instincts. Entrepreneur. Retrieved from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/279628