If there's one thing we've learned about CEOs recently, it's that some of them will reply if you send them an email. Tech blogger Robert Scoble emailed Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Sunday—and guess what? Zuck wrote back.
A few weeks ago, Gawker's Ryan Tate and Apple CEO Steve Jobs had a brief debate over email that was later posted to this site. It was the kind of free-floating exchange the thought of which gives publicists hives for fear of their charges saying something bad. But the truth is, despite his weird demagoguery about porn and his fallacious shot at Tate ("Do you create anything, or just criticize"), Jobs came off pretty well—as a smart, passionate guy more than willing to defend his life's work.
Wouldn't it be great if we could catch more CEOs off-guard like that, and get them to defend their most controversial projects, without a press representative or communications officer present? Guys, like, say, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the Harvard-student-turned-billionare whose privacy rollbacks have caused an outpouring of anger—and only a tepid, embarrassing response from the company. Maybe Zuckerberg would be willing to talk in depth about his personal take on privacy and social networks in a free, unrestricted environment like an email conversation?
Not really! Tech blogger Robert Scoble emailed "Zuck" to ask him why he hadn't spoken since the privacy controversies. And Zuckerberg—assuming it was him!—responded with the bullshittiest of bullshit responses:
We've been listening to all the feedback and have been trying to distill it down to the key things we need to improve. I'd like to show an improved product rather than just talk about things we might do.
We're going to be ready to start talking about some of the new things we've built this week. I want to make sure we get this stuff right this time.
I know we've made a bunch of mistakes, but my hope at the end of this is that the service ends up in a better place and that people understand that our intentions are in the right place and we respond to the feedback from the people we serve.
I hope we'll get a chance to catch up in person sometime this week. Let me know if you have any thoughts for me before then.
Gee, thanks, Zuck! You've made some mistakes! But clearly you're working on "this stuff," by which I can only assume you mean the awful massive privacy breaches, both intentional and accidental, that have occurred at your company, so definitely, we should leave you alone.
Say what you will about Jobs and his bizarre fascination with preventing people from looking at naked ladies, but he had the guts to go to the mat, in an email to some random guy, for his choices. Zuckerberg won't even do that.
Scoble has put up a screenshot of the original email exchange on his Flicker page, if you're interested.