Mark Zuckerberg

May there be many more Zuckerbergs

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 May, 2012, 12:00am


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What would you do if you had a net worth of US$19 billion, ran one of the planet's fastest-growing companies and found yourself on top of the world at the tender age of 28 - with every celebrity, politician and ageing billionaire around the world wanting to rub shoulders with you?

You probably wouldn't quietly marry your college sweetheart at a low-key wedding with only your closest relatives and friends invited, having bought a 'cheap' US$7 million house as your marital home.

Yet that's what Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg did as the social media giant went public last week to become a listed company. He made a good buy last year, as the US property market has not fully recovered.

Perhaps what is extraordinary about Zuckerberg is not just his computer and entrepreneurial genius, but his level-headed youthfulness. At his age, he has already lived several lifetimes and deals more wisely with his wealth than most. In the week that Facebook went public, his longtime American-born Chinese girlfriend, Priscilla Chan - whom he met at Harvard - graduated with a prestigious degree from the medical school of the University of California, San Francisco. So a day after the initial public offering, Zuckerberg did what any sensible decent person would do, though it was probably not what most young American zillionaires would do - he married his girlfriend, Dr Chan.

In our new gilded age, tasteless ostentation has become the order of the day. If you've got it, flaunt it. But the Zuckerbergs have no need of that. The young man is laser-focused on growing his business. The success of Facebook is the ultimate measure of the man. This is what American capitalism has been and should be about, not about CEOs who earn gazillions by running their firms into the ground and corrupt politicians who enable them to do it with deregulation and bailouts.

The hit movie The Social Network portrayed Zuckerberg in a negative light, as a social outcast, insensitive, insecure and almost amoral. But in real life, he should serve as an example of success for young people the world over. May the Zuckerbergs have a long, successful and happy marriage.