I’ve been mulling a post about the potential impact on Facebook of the unflattering portrait of founder-CEO Mark Zuckerberg in the film The Social Network, which I’m eager to see. I’ve come to the conclusion that in the end it really won’t have much of an impact on Facebook (the company).
There’s been a lot of discussion on blogs and in the press about the accuracy of the film’s characterization of Zuckerberg and his ethics. A recent article by a Harvard contemporary very close to the founding of Facebook seems to confirm at least some of the negative depiction.
However, an article in the WSJ today reports that Zuck, as he’s affectionately called by insiders, has decided to donate $100 million to New Jersey schools:
Mark Zuckerberg, the 26-year-old founder and chief executive of Facebook, is expected to announce a donation of $100 million to the Newark public school system this week, in a bold and aggressive bid to turn around one of the country’s worst performing school systems.
The article implies in the end that this is a PR move in part:
Mr. Zuckerberg’s pledge, his largest gift to date, comes as the company he founded battles to counteract a Hollywood film’s scathing depiction of the executive. “The Social Network,” which opens in wide U.S. release Oct. 1, portrays Mr. Zuckerberg as a conniving backstabber who may have stolen the idea for his social-networking site.
Whatever his motivations, whether totally or only partially altruistic, I cheer the move. BRAVO, BRAVO.
Andrew Carnegie was certainly no “good guy” on the way up, nor was JP Morgan or Rockefeller. Yet these men came to realize the value that their wealth could bring to others and the society at large. Bill Gates, now a great philanthropist, certainly had several “evil” moments as Microsoft CEO.
I’m not trying to be an apologist for any bad behavior in the past, but I commend Zuck for his decision and the likely positive impact it will have on the lives of many kids and teachers. Public education is a critical institution that has been increasingly maligned and neglected in this country.
If this donation is cynical, calculated or the product of narcissism somehow, I say let there be more of it.