SXSW: The Zuckerberg Interview Fiasco

I really wanted to see Anil’s presentation on Designing for Freedom. I had heard that Mark Zuckerberg’s speaking skills were lacking, and Anil had recently won Battle Decks. But since my wife has been a Facebook junkie since it’s near-inception, I thought we’d go and give her something interesting to tell her friend’s about. Boy, was it ever interesting.

First, let me say that the Zuckerburg interview was terrible because Sarah Lacy cared too much about how she came across than about finding information. Case in point: her constant pity party remarks. (“Could someone please email me later and tell my why I sucked so bad?”)

Her interview was extremely self-centered. But things started to get a little dicey when someone yelled “Beacon sucks!” from the crowd. Mark started talking about what he was thinking behind Beacon. They’ve created the platform, now they’re just trying to monetize it. The mistake they made was that they didn’t make privacy a priority. Is that going to be a problem tendency later on with the company? They’ve learned their lesson, so says Mark. The common element between the feed and the Beacon uproar was not enough control was given to the users. That, and the fact that they weren’t communicated clearly enough.

Why be CEO? Kevin Rose and Marc Andreessen would never have taken that role. Why are you staying in it? Mark: The CEO sets the tone, and I feel like I still want to set the tone.

Mark is young. He looks young. He looks casual and unsure of himself. He shouldn’t have done the interview on a couch.

Suddenly, all Digg broke loose when Lacy poses another comment/pseudo-question. Mark paused for a moment and then said, “You’ve got to ask questions!” Thunderous applause that lasted a full minute.

Lacy tried to compose herself, changing the subject to Mark’s notebooks. She tries to confirm a point from someone in the back of the room (wha…?) when suddenly a voice from the crowd shouts, “Talk about something interesting!”

Lacy’s response, “Well, let’s honor the Digg style of community management.” Then she finally opened up the floor for relevant question from the crowd: two major issues with the platform, it’s difficult to control privacy settings and it’s also very counterintuitive to manage data. Oh, and does security matter? Is it a priority?

Even at the end, Lacy revealed that this interview was all about her: “I’m sorry to torture you for an hour.” Clearly, you don’t regain dignity with sarcasm.