If you’ve seen Mark Zuckerberg speak at some point over the past few weeks, you’ve probably noticed something different about him. It’s not that he’s just more charismatic, but for the first time it appears as though he feels comfortable in his own body while speaking on stage.
As anybody reading this blog would know, the past few years have been incredible ones for Zuckerberg. Not only is he the youngest billionaire in the world, on paper, but he also has overseen a company that has skyrocketed from a few million people to over 500 million users. Now he even confidently proclaims that there is no doubt that the company will surpass a billion users. Thanks to the recently released, The Social Network, and an appearance on The Simpsons, Zuckerberg has had his celebrity status formalized.
The new, public Mark Zuckerberg, is a stark contrast to the one which many felt bad for only a few months ago when he sweat profusely under the lights of the AllThingsD conference, as he was questioned by Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher.
Although the private version of Mark Zuckerberg may be no different than he was years ago (something I personally can’t attest to), his public persona is dramatically different. Anybody who I’ve spoken to over the past few weeks about Facebook’s latest announcements, has had practically glowing reviews of Mark, saying that he appears much more confident and comfortable with himself. It has taken some time, but Mark has grown dramatically from the heavily rehearsed talk announcing the launch of the Facebook Platform and the numerous talks since.
Just yesterday, Mark (or “Zuck”, as many of his friends call him), spoke at YCombinator’s Startup School (the video is embedded below). The conversation was extremely casual, and Mark seemed extraordinarily comfortable, even cracking an occasional joke. Asked about the recent movie, The Social Network, and what the biggest difference between the movie and reality, Mark noted, “Every single shirt or fleece they had in that movie, is an actual shirt or fleece that I actually own.” He also criticized Hollywood for being incapable of wrapping their head around the idea that some people in Silicon Valley like building startups because they simply like to build things.
Regardless of what was discussed, the conversation was extremely casual and it demonstrated a refined version of Mark Zuckerberg, which is much more comfortable in public. While he was recently self-deprecating during an interview at the Computer History Museum, calling himself “awkward”, a method Mark uses (intentionally or not) as a way to make himself appear as an everyday entrepreneur, it’s clear that something has changed.
Whether it was a realization that the movie wasn’t as bad as he thought it would be, the return of Brandee Barker, who has played a major role in teaching Mark what to say to reporters, the assistance of Sheryl Sandberg, or something that none of us are aware of, Mark appears renewed. This version of Mark also appears increasingly capable of filling the role of CEO of a public company, something that will eventually be necessary as the company will eventually file for a public offering at some point.
Fortunately for Mark, he still has time to grow in to the position that he’s in. There is also no doubt that he has grown dramatically already, becoming a person that many entrepreneurs aspire to. Yet at 26, Mark still has plenty of time to learn and grow. Given the shift in roles, one which is becoming increasingly public, it’s clear that he is truly a renewed Mark Zuckerberg.