Blogger Jeff Jarvis tries to offer a new-world, Silicon Valley-eye-view into how business works in the world of software innovation. E.g.: Ideas aren’t worth the cocktail napkins they are scribbled on - you need to execute; the other Facebook founders didn’t understand how and/or were incapable of executing the idea the way Zuckerberg was. The author then paints the upcoming Fincher-and-Sorkin movie as “old media taking a shot at new media,” and Zuckerberg as the guy who had the real vision and ability to execute.
Interesting - from a pure business standpoint, I appreciate the truth in the observation that execution is critical.
I am not close enough to this story to know whether Zuckerberg is the douchebag that this movie appears to make him out to be…
As a current MBA student, we are taught very high morals and ethics are the way to run a business. We then go home and see on the news that the way to get rich is by stabbing everyone else in the back.
Zuckerberg is a complete douchebag, but that’s beside the point. The real point is that The Social Network is based on a book that paints Zuckerberg as a saint. Only by “making shit up” (as the article points out) was Sorkin able to make the story of Facebook into one that could be filmed.
The book (The Accidental Billionaires) is an unauthorized take on the story as well, but cites Saverin and the Winklevoss twins among its contributors. If people that hate Mark Zuckerberg enough to sue him for billions can’t say anything bad about him (the Winklevoss’ flat out admit they don’t know anything about coding and were only looking to make a Match - Find Singles with Match's Online Dating Personals Service Groups knockoff), well then there was really no need to write a book and definitely no need to rewrite it into some kind of smear piece with The Social Network.
The book was written and published before the lawsuits were settled and everyone’s specific contributions were kept anonymous. Events that weren’t specifically talked about were recreated using the descriptions from the court documents.
In their lawsuits, the Winklevoss’ admit they don’t know how to code anything. And that they were attempting to make a dating site. And that they never had a contract with Zuckerberg or paid him any money. Saverin admits that he stayed out of the day-to-day operations of the site for several months and then tried to jump back in as the leader even though the Facebook team (by that point the company had about a dozen employees) had rebuilt everything from scratch.
While I doubt The Accidental Billionaires is the whole truth, I think it’s a lot more accurate than anyone seems to think. Especially when compared to The Social Network.
I’m kinda surprised to realize I can actually comment on this: an old protege of mine was actually the featured protagonist in a Ben Mezrich book - the one where a kid ended up setting up an energy trading market in Dubai; that’s what my old analyst did after he got out of business school after working for me. I had helped him get into business school and he ended up on CNBC - who knew?
Anyway, in talking with him, he basically paints Mezrich as, well, not the best guy. He sees himself as a brand - the guy who writes real-world thillers featuring young go-getters getting into huge-stakes situations, rife with real money and potential danger - and does what he needs to so the story fits the brand. There was some thriller stuff portrayed in my friend’s book that was completely overblown. Characters were jammed into the stereotypical roles required in a thriller, regardless of whether they fit or whether there was anything thrilling actually going on.
Bottom line is that Mezrich tilts stories so they fit his brand; his POV and tone don’t emerge from the story - he imposes it upon the situation. I have no idea if he makes stuff up, and I am sure the bones of the Facebook story are solid since the basic facts, to my knowledge, are commonly understood and available - but I would read the book with grain of salt.
No argument from me there. The James Bond stuff (at one point, Zuckerberg breaks into another dorm to get some files he needs… and he’s almost caught… but it’s just a couple having sex) is surely overblown.
My argument is basically that any of the parts of the book that are based on public record stuff including Zuckerberg’s deal with the Winklevosses, Saverin fronting the money and then walking away and Sean Parker’s involvement and eventual dismissal is likely pretty accurate. And none of it makes Zuckerberg come off like a bad guy. I remember saying in another thread that if The Accidental Billionaires is the unauthorized version of the story with juicy extras, the real life story must be that Mark Zuckerberg can heal with his touch.
I agree with all of your points. I was pleasantly surprised it was as evenhanded as it was. I’m not even on Facebook. I went to see it for the dialogue, and man was I rewarded. The acting was excellent as well. Hopefully people can stop comparing Eisenberg to Michael Cera now. The Squid and the Whale was evidence enough, but this is clearly going to be so much bigger.