i’ve been amused and also surprised by all the media coverage on Mark Zuckerberg wearing his hoodie to analyst presentations for the Facebook roadshow this week.
Michael Pachter, an analyst for Wedbush Securities, suggested that wearing his trademark hoodie was an indication that Zuckerberg was too immature to run a big, public company saying – “I think that’s a mark of immaturity.”
Whether you think Facebook represents a good investment or not, to focus on what the young founder is wearing is just mindlessly irrelevant and illustrates the culture clash between bankers and Silicon Valley, and, more widely, between bankers and the rest of the world.
The finance industry has come in for allot of criticism in recent years with common accusations being they are greedy, self-important, outdated and just in business to make money for themselves and their firms. To start to criticize someone for wearing what they always wear just serves to reinforce this feeling.
As an investor, I want to feel that the CEO knows who he is and has real conviction about himself and his company. I certainly don’t want to see them feeling the need to please people all the time. When that happens you know you’ve got a chameleon on your hands who is never going to have the confidence, the security and the conviction to deliver on the long-term vision of his business.
As the saying goes – “A camel is a horse designed by a committee” and it is so true. Zuckerberg is his own man and that’s why Facebook is where it is today. He has a vision and he has stuck to it. That doesn’t mean he hasn’t sought people’s counsel and make adjustments along the way, but he has always retained the essence of his vision and a focus on the long-term. That’s how you build great companies.
Of course he is going to have to learn to be a CEO of a big public company and will make mistakes along the way. But I’d still much rather have someone running the business who knows who he is and knows where he wants to take the business.
I’m actually not sure that Facebook does represent such a great investment but one of the main reasons for that is they have postponed going public for so long and built so much value as a private company. This never used to be the case a few years ago when companies would aspire to go public as soon as they were able to and this was seen as the pinnacle of achievement. Staying private for longer is great for the founders and early investors but means there is less value to be created post-IPO.
One of the reasons that tech companies are deciding to hold off on their IPO is because of a growing feeling that the bankers/public markets are on a completely different wavelength and do not allow them to focus on their long-term vision. This negative reaction to Zuckerberg, one of the greatest technology entrepreneurs we have seen, wearing what he always wears, will only serve to increase this divide between the world of technology and finance. Ultimately this will encourage more and more entrepreneurs to seek alternative forms of investment.
The words ‘shooting yourself’ and ‘foot’ spring to mind.