Why Mark Zuckerberg′s Clothing Choices Don′t Matter a Cent
Do you want to be rich? Go to medical or law school, get an MBA and work for an investment firm, or work your way up from a starting level position to CEO at your company over several decades.
But what if you want to be really ridiculously rich, and you don’t want to wait through years of degrees and answering to bosses?
You need an app. Or a social network. From Facebook to Groupon to Instagram, the companies we constantly hear about soaring their way up the financial charts are consistently founded and run by entrepreneurs barely in their 20s.
In contrast, Sam Walton was 44 by the time he opened his first Wal-Mart, and 67 by the time the chain had 800 stores. Compare that to Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, who at 28 years old is already worth $14.7 billion.
Of course, in a world still run by suit-and-tie Wall Street bankers, Zuckerberg has certainly ruffled a few feathers along the way. When he showed up to a meeting with potential investors wearing a hoodie sweatshirt, critics labeled it ‘Hoodiegate,’ even calling out the Facebook CEO as ‘immature’ (http://www.zdnet.com/blog/facebook/analyst-mark-zuckerbergs-hoodie-is-8216a-mark-of-immaturity/12769).
Those same naysayers may have the last word if lawsuits currently being leveled against Facebook over their IPO turn out to cost the company a big chunk of change, but it likely still won’t change Zuckerberg’s attitude or his apparel.
That’s because Zuckerberg comes from a new class of entrepreneur. He’s cut from the same cloth as Groupon’s Andrew Mason, who garnered negative press for drinking beer at an employee meeting in April.
Both CEOs are paying for their ‘immature’ public perception with plummeting share values, but that’s still no sign that the trend toward younger faces heading the most buzzed-about companies will cease.
Consider Instagram founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, aged 28 and 27, respectively. Their example shines a light on the most important facet to understand about the changing face of business:
When you’re young, it’s easier to see the long-term goal. On a day-to-day basis, motivation for the pursuit of quality and purpose can still trump motivation for the pursuit of profit.
If Systrom and Krieger had been concerned with breaking even from the start, they would never have succeeded. Instead, the pair launched into their portable photo sharing and editing app with hardly any plan in place for monetizing their product.
In the end, they sold to Facebook for a cool billion. Before anyone even had the chance to question whether or not their clothing was appropriate for the type of cash they were demanding, they’d signed the papers and cashed out.
Another example is Dennis Crowley, who launched his website Dodgeball.com as a student at NYU. His concept encouraged users to ‘check-in′ wherever they were hanging out, from nightclubs to restaurants. Crowley sold the site to Google and then developed a new app based on the same principles, called FourSquare. Now aged 36, Crowley’s FourSquare is valued at nearly $1 billion.
Fly High, Then Crash and Burn?
From Pinterest to the newest Johnny-come-lately, Fancy, the ‘next big thing’ in business arrives and grows to critical mass faster than ever before in history. That’s fueled both by the ease of developing new software technology at home and the ability to spread-the-word through social media.
Just as Zuckerberg, Mason, and Crowley have watched their stars grow into red giants before they ever get their first gray hairs, those bonfires can still burn out overnight. Only a generation ago, building a billion-dollar empire required time and groundwork. Hundreds of retail outlets can’t just open overnight, but thousands of copies of an app can be downloaded in mere seconds.
Of course, the fall from grace can happen just as rapidly. The smartest entrepreneurs, like Instagram’s Systrom and Krieger, know when it’s time to sell. For Mason and Groupon, that ship may have already sailed. He’s bright (and young) enough to develop a new product if Groupon slips into oblivion. Maybe next time, he’ll know to accept that ‘sell’ offer before anyone ever has the chance to question his choice of clothing or beverage.
Christopher Wallace is Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Amsterdam Printing, one of the nation’s largest providers of promotional products for businesses large and small. Amsterdam specializes in
custom pens and other promotional items such as calendars, laptop bags and T-shirts. Christopher regularly contributes to Amsterdam Printing′s blog.