A Facebook Cofounder's Public OutingS

Only a few things will make a chatty entrepreneur stop talking about their next big idea: a lawsuit, an IPO, or a magazine cover story. The last explains Facebook cofounder Chris Hughes's recent quiet period.

How funny that a young man who helped elect Barack Obama and who's championed sharing, openness, and transparency would put himself out of circulation for a cover story in ... Fast Company, the forgotten bible of booms of yore. Was this really worth staying away from the rest of the press during his ex-boss's inauguration?

The best parts of the profile are the personal ones, where Hughes talks about how touched his parents were when Obama recognized his efforts, or where he describes how he came out as gay in boarding school. But as a business profile — the "Company" in Fast Company — it disappoints.

I'd been pursuing Hughes since January, when I noticed that Obama's former social-networking guru wasn't part of the new White House Internet team. A cryptic answer from a White House flack spurred my curiosity as to what he'd be up to next. And the Fast Company story doesn't really answer that question.

It's an odd time to cover Hughes's third act. The two powerful acts of creation he participated in — Facebook's founding and Obama's campaign — are still inchoate in their results. And Hughes himself doesn't really know what he wants to do next, which is why he's pursued stopgap (if well-paying) gigs in venture capital and PR. A cover story about someone whose career is pretty much pure potential? It makes a certain sense, if you think about how tarnished anyone with actual accomplishments is.