There’s been a lot of talk lately about Facebook, since its embarassing IPO happened a year ago. I just wanted to spend a moment reflecting on fame and entrepreneurship. First, let’s take a quick look at Facebook and, in the corner, Time Magazine’s Man of the Year from 2011:
If making the cover of Time wasn’t a strong enough contrary indicator, I’m not sure what could have been (inclusion in the State of the Union address, perhaps?) In any event, a year after the public offering, the stock is still down about a third, meaning it would take a 50% gain at this point to get those first-day investors back to where they started.
Almost no one doubts Zuck’s intellect and drive, but let’s face it, there was a whoooooooooole lot of luck behind Facebook. His success there was likely 5% genius and 95% right place/right time. He’s a fantastically rich man, but I don’t think we’re going to see any great second act.
Elon Musk, in sharp contrast, seems to have dedicated his life to serial success. He founds Zip2.com and, bang, sells it for a fortune; he parlays that into co-founding Paypal.com, and bang, sells that for a bigger fortune. And then he starts Solar City; let’s check to see how that’s doing:
Oh, and how about this cool little auto maker no one has ever heard of called Tesla?
My point is simply that tremendous fame does not always mean tremendous genius. I daresay a far greater percentage of the country knows who Zuck is (he appeared on Saturday Night Live, after all) than Musk, but if I were a betting man, I’d say that Musk is going to change the world in a more substantial, positive, and lasting way than the guy who created the ability to Poke someone.
I’ll close with one last thought; in retrospect, the crew at CNBC’s Fast Money must have achieved the most cringe-worthy, douchey, and embarassing moment in television history when, in a gross act of sycophancy, each donned a Zuck-style “hoodie” on offering day. Jesus.