When you think of Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg, you likely envision the software coder portrait of him from The Social Network. That dramatization is no caricature. As I note in my Fortune feature article about Zuckerberg, released online today, he even analogizes the role of big-company CEO to that of writing code: You break down a complex set of tasks into smaller tasks and then attack them methodically. Only a committed engineer-turned-entrepreneur would verbalize it that way.
But what about Zuckerberg the businessperson? That, it turns out, is the overlooked aspect of his role at Facebook. In fact, he is Fortune’s 2016 Businessperson of the Year, recognized for his company’s stellar financial performance, market heft, and innovative ways. The case I make in my article is that it’s easy to miss Zuckerberg’s business chops because of the prominence of his MBA deputy, Sheryl Sandberg, who runs Facebook’s business operations. And yet it is Zuckerberg who has held together an extraordinarily long-tenured management team and made critical strategic decisions for Facebook over its 12-year existence.
The stability at the top is no trivial matter. Toward the end of his 15-year second act at Apple, Steve Jobs commanded a senior management team that had been with him nearly the entire time. Zuckerberg’s reign so far is a little shorter, but already his top people have been along for most of the ride. It’s a hallmark of good leadership to be able to attract and retain top talent. (A rising stock price helps too.)
Zuckerberg, at the tender age of 32, faces plenty of challenges. Facebook enjoys the giant benefits that accrue to being a media titan even as it shrinks from the attendant responsibilities. If Zuckerberg doesn’t rise to the occasion, Facebook could lose the trust its 1.8 billion users place in it.
For all his consistency, Zuckerberg today is a more mature—and richer—version of the insouciant entrepreneur I first interviewed in 2005, when he memorably handed me a business card with a vulgarity printed on it that would never fly now. He and his company have come a long way.
BITS AND BYTES
Twitter loses its COO. Adam Bain is stepping down after six years with the company, amid Twitter’s struggle to grow its user base. His plans weren’t disclosed. Bain was named as chief operating officer one year ago when CEO Jack Dorsey returned. Twitter’s CFO Anthony Noto will fill the breach. (Fortune, New York Times)
Yahoo reveals it knew about its big data breach two years ago. The break-in has been responsible for the exposure of personal information of at least 500 million users. What’s not clear is whether or not senior management was made aware of the situation, which is a bone of contention for Yahoo’s acquirer Verizon. At least some insiders did. (Fortune, New York Times)
Former HP bigwig is now chairman of a data center company. Bill Veghte, who was briefly the CEO of SurveyMonkey, is joining Boston-based Turbonomic. Before that, he held high-level roles at Microsoft and Hewlett Packer. Turbonomic, which has about 1,600 customers, sells software for managing servers and other data center gear. (Fortune)
Silicon Valley helped foster the rise of Donald Trump. Now what? Peter Thiel must be feeling pretty vindicated. The billionaire investor behind Palantir and PayPal was dead-accurate when he proclaimed that the nexus of the tech industry was out of touch with a “divided” America that wasn’t feeling the same economic benefits. The concept of “disruption” that is the lifeblood of the industry doesn’t play all that well when it costs someone their job.
Trump has said very little about his technology policy, although he seems to be a fan of broader government surveillance. His stance on limiting immigration could mean trouble for companies that rely heavily on foreign tech talent. On the flip side, his idea for cutting taxes on the mountains of cash companies like Apple and Google keep outside the United States could inspire new investments domestically. Amazon’s Bezos has reason to be worried, based on Trump’s antitrust rhetoric. Meanwhile, Apple’s Tim Cook, eBay’s Devin Wenig, and Microsoft’s Satya Nadella are doubling down on their commitments to diversity.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
What AT&T Could Do If Trump Blocks the Time Warner Deal, by Aaron Pressman
Apple’s Latest MacBook Pro Is Outselling Its Competitors, by Don Reisinger
ONE MORE THING
Eric Schmidt is writing a book about legendary exec coach Bill Campbell. The late Campbell, who passed away in April, was a mentor to Schmidt, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. (Fortune)