5 Myths About Mark Zuckerberg

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As the man behind Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg rocketed into fame almost overnight -- making people wonder what he's really like.

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5 Myths About Mark Zuckerberg

There's lots of chatter out there about Mark Zuckerberg. As one of the richest people in the world, and someone who made his fortune at a very young age, that's not surprising. It's also not surprising that many of us feel we know him pretty well -- even if we've never met him -- because we've seen the movie "The Social Network."

"The Social Network" portrays Zuckerberg in very stark, prickly terms. Many people who have seen the movie end up strongly disliking him, even if they also admire him a little for thumbing his nose at the status quo.

Of course, "The Social Network" is just a movie. And we all know movies, even biopics like this one, don't necessarily tell the entire truth. Furthermore, "The Social Network" was made without the cooperation of Zuckerberg or his close associates, with the exception of providing some biographical info and pointing out some of his past speeches [source: The Economic Times].

So what's the truth versus myth when it comes to hoodie-clad Zuckerberg? No one will know for sure except him. But here are five common descriptions of Zuckerberg that others strongly disagree with and say are made up, or pretty big exaggerations.

5: Mark Zuckerberg is Cheap

Everyone knows Zuckerberg is a big cheapskate. He wears jeans, t-shirts and hoodies all the time, doesn't he? He donned that attire for a meeting with somber Wall Street investors, and even when he met President Barack Obama. OK, he upgraded a little for his meeting with the prez, keeping the jeans but swapping the tee for a shirt and tie [sources: Anderson, Gross].

But what about his wedding? The ring he gave his wife, Priscilla Chan, is a very modest-sized ruby with a diamond on each side; one jeweler estimated it to cost a measly $25,000. For someone of Zuckerberg's wealth (he's said to be worth at least $17 billion), Chan should have been given a boulder-sized beauty. Can't forget he also served inexpensive Mexican eats at the reception [source: Delfiner]. And when he and Chan were honeymooning in Italy, they ate at McDonald's once, and didn't leave a tip when they dined at two more formal spots [source: Squires].

The myth-busters dismiss all of this petty sniping. Maybe Chan didn't want a big ring. Maybe they both like Mexican food and McDonald's. And at one of the Roman restaurants where he and his wife supped without tipping (and maybe both), the gratuity was already included in the bill [source: Dalton]. So there.

The real proof he's no skinflight, though: Zuckerberg donated $100 million to start an education foundation to assist long-troubled schools in Newark, New Jersey. And Zuck has no connection whatsoever to the city [source: Pérez-Peña].

Mark Zuckerberg, seen here at a November 2010 press conference, strikes some people as arrogant.

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4: Mark Zuckerberg is Arrogant

Anyone who's seen the movie "The Social Network" knows how arrogant Mark Zuckerberg is. In the flick, he's depicted as not only arrogant, but also devious and an ego-maniac [source: Rohrer]. Ick.

Films have the power to make us believe things that aren't necessarily true, even though our minds rationally know that we're simply watching a movie, and filmmakers quite often embellish the truth to suit their needs. Yet Zuckerberg critics say this depiction in the film is surely true, because anyone who wears hoodies and t-shirts to important meetings with investors and dignitaries is definitely arrogant. His arrogance is also borne out by the fact that he priced Facebook's IPO at the top of its projected range, they add [source: Ortutay].

But those who really know Mark Zuckerberg -- who have met him, worked with him, lived with him -- disagree. Joe Green, Zuckerberg's former college roommate, says Zuckerberg isn't arrogant, just very confidant. And David Kirkpatrick, a writer who spent a lot of time at Facebook while researching his book "The Facebook Effect," says Zuck is pretty funny, and has lots of friends. Hardly what you'd expect from an arrogant jerk [source: Miller].

3: Mark Zuckerberg is a Business Whiz

How can Mark Zuckerberg notbe a business whiz? The guy is worth billions after launching Facebook, a social network that pretty much everyone in the world knows about, and that's used by 1 billion people today -- and he did it all when he was still a pajama-clad kid in college [source: Vance]. Heck, he was even named Timemagazine's "Person of the Year" in 2010 [source: Grossman].

True. But there are business whizzes, and there are technology whizzes. Many, if not most, business experts would agree Zuckerberg is a techno-whiz. But, say some, what business whiz would come up with the IPO that Zuckerberg did? Expected to earn him at least $846 million, Facebook's stock tanked shortly after it debuted, and Zuck's net worth actually fell by $8.1 billion instead [sources: Anderson, Forbes]. Why? He priced it way too high, and investors feel Facebook doesn't have a sustainable revenue model for the future, as people are currently switching from PCs and laptops to smart phones [sources: The Week, Golub].

If that isn't enough proof, Zuckerberg himself admitted he knew nothing about business a full two years into Facebook, when Yahoo! offered him $1 billion to buy it and he refused, infuriating employees and investors [source: Miller]. He's undoubtedly learned a lot since then, but certainly not enough to be called a business whiz.

Zuckerberg has been known to wear a tie from time to time, like when he met with world leaders and businesspeople at the 2011 G8 summit in Paris.

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2: Mark Zuckerberg is Socially Awkward

Mark Zuckerberg is a nerdy geek, and we all know it. If you saw "The Social Network," you know he spent his college years skulking around campus in rumpled clothes, couldn't get into a prestigious social club and his few friends consisted of fellow geeks and loser types.

So not true, cry those who know him well. Harvard roommate Joe Green calls him über-confidant. Author David Kirkpatrick, who had access to Zuckerberg and the entire company while he researched his book "The Facebook Effect," says Zuckerberg is funny and not just social, but "extremely" social [source: Miller].

Another author, Karel Baloun, worked at Facebook for a year, then wrote a book about his experience. Baloun says Zuckerberg actually was rather socially awkward in the not-too-distant past, but he's been working hard at improving this part of his personality, and today's he's a pretty socially unawkward dude [source: Rohrer].

1: Mark Zuckerberg is a Back-stabber

Never turn your back on Mark Zuckerberg, or he'll plunge a knife deeply into it. (And probably twist it a bit as well.) Yes, it's true. According to "The Social Network," he agreed to work with the Winklevoss twins at Harvard on a similar social media project, then ran off and founded Facebook instead. And while he initially worked well with friend and partner Eduardo Saverin, once Eduardo disagreed with some of Zuck's moves, Zuck cut him out of the business to fly solo.

That's how the movie portrays things, anyway. Plenty of others in the know disagree with not only the versions of these events, but Zuckerberg's personality. David Kirkpatrick, author of "The Facebook Effect," says Zuckerberg is definitely not a mean, cruel person, and he should know, as he spent a fair amount of time with both Zuckerberg and company employees while he researched his book. And Karel Baloun, a guy who actually worked at Facebook for a year -- and very closely with Zuckerberg -- says Zuckerberg would definitely never deliberately betray a friend [source: Rohrer].

Author's Note

Truth be told, I don't "Like" or "Unlike" Mark Zuckerberg. I don't know the guy. I saw the movie "The Social Network," and I've read a lot of things about him, both pro and con. And even though I've done a lot of research for this article, I still don't have a clear picture of who he really is or what he's like. Now if only he'd create an "I don't care" button ...

Related ArticlesSources
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  • Delfiner, Rita. "Mark's cheap nups included $25K wedding ring, Mexican food." New York Post. May 25, 2012. (Oct. 2, 2012) http://www.nypost.com/p/news/national/your_hubby_zucks_jLOykAG6XlsTDJ4zK94uBK
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  • Pérez-Peña, Richard. "Facebook Founder to Donate $100 Million to Help Remake Newark's Schools." The New York Times. Sept. 22, 2010. (Oct. 2, 2012) http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/23/education/23newark.html?_r=0
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