Startup Blog

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook Child CEO, Should Hire a Real CEO

Posted by Mike Volpe on 2/6/08 7:52 PM

I have thought for a while that Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook Founder and CEO) is certainly a very smart guy for starting Facebook and bringing it to its current level of success.  But I also think he is crazy for not selling at least a portion of his personal holdings - just to take some winnings off the table and make sure he is set for life.  Zuckerberg could do this with about 1% of the company, and still have a gigantic stake in Facebook.

The other thing that I find surprising is that he, and the investors, think he is the best CEO for the company right now.  They have hundreds of employees and are thinking about going public. Now, when I was 23, I certainly thought I was capable enough to lead a huge company through and IPO and manage all of the employees.  But, I was wrong.

4 Reasons Why Mark Zuckerberg Should Hire a New Facebook CEO

  1. Mark Zuckerberg will have trouble building a team.  The job of the CEO is to build and hire a great team.  Many really qualified VPs will have trouble working for a 23 year old.  No matter what your knowledge of social networking, there are just larger corporate issues you have zero experience with, and I think being 23 makes it a lot harder to hire a great management team.
  2. Mark Zuckerberg will have trouble pleasing Wall Street.  Wall Street (those folks you need to deal with after an IPO) can be hard to please.  One thing that they value is experience and seniority.  The current Facebook CEO has neither.  Having a gray-haired person in charge makes Wall Street feel good, and makes IPOs smoother.
  3. Mark Zuckerberg will lose touch with the customer.  Facebook is no longer for college students.  It is growing by over 250,000 users per day, and the biggest demographic is people not in college.  This is a very different audience with very different needs from college students.  One very valuable skill that marketing and product development people hone over many years is the ability to understand customers that are not like themselves.  I do not think a 23 year old can do that.  And it is critically important that the CEO has the pulse of your target market.
  4. Mark Zuckerberg has the wrong skills for the next phase of Facebook.  Facebook has crossed the chasm.  It is now going into the mainstream and has well over 60 million members.  Facebook is not about innovation, being scrappy and developing cool new stuff anymore.  Facebook is now about monetizing page views, a proper management structure for growth, and building profits.  Mark is clearly a good founder and startup CEO.  That role almost never overlaps with the roles of a mid-stage growth CEO.

Disclaimer - I have not met Mark Zuckerberg.  I have no idea how truly smart/stupid, mature/childish he really is.  This article is an opinion based on a little work experience and watching an episode of 60 minutes.  And of course, I am also jealous!

For some other commentary on Facebook, see this article about the top 10 Facebook career mistakes and the classic "Cool Wand" Facebook story.

Mike Volpe

Written by Mike Volpe

Mike Volpe is a startup advisor and angel investor based in Boston.

Topics: startup, CEO, facebook

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