Mark Zuckerberg turned strangers' intimate moments into riches. We turned the tables on the Facebook CEO, lurking outside his house, following him out with his girlfriend and pals, and to Chinese language lessons. America's youngest billionaire got the paparazzi treatment.
For all the power and money in Silicon Valley, tech dons have managed to escape the sort of scrutiny the tabloid press brings to bear on the celebrities of Hollywood or the moguls of New York. Until now.
Photographer Nick Stern spent a long weekend following Zuckerberg around Silicon Valley. He trailed Zuckerberg around Palo Alto streets by car, tailed him to a Stanford University event, snapped pictures of the young CEO outside a bar, and trained his camera lens on the people coming in and out of Zuckerberg's modest College Terrace abode. Stern brought back these pictures of the 212th-richest man in the world spending time with his buddies, girlfriend, sister, and colleagues.
The most interesting thing about Zuckerberg's life may well be how ordinary it is for such a well-off 26 year old. Few that age would have trouble coming up with flashy ways to spend an estimated $4 billion fortune, even one that's largely still on paper. (Zuckerberg has acknowledged taking cash out of at least one funding round in recent years.) Yet, as the photos below show, Zuck doesn't seem to have ramped up his spending all that much from his days coding the first prototype of Facebook in his Harvard dormitory room.
Zuckerberg can still be seen wearing flip flops wherever he goes, or sometimes a pair of unremarkable running shoes. His car is nothing you'd blink at on a Bay Area freeway. His taste in bars is downmarket and collegiate.
Zuckerberg's house is modest, even humdrum, save for the fact that it's in the conveniently located College Terrace neighborhood of Palo Alto, near Facebook headquarters and the Stanford University campus. It doesn't even look like Zuckerberg sprang for laundry service, considering he wears nearly identical faded gray t-shirts day after day, even as comely girlfriend Priscilla Chan cycled through a variety of stylish outfits.
If it feels a little naughty to take such a close look into Zuckerberg's life, remember that this is the executive who pushed the private information of Facebook's hundreds of millions of users progressively further into the public sphere. Facebook turned users' friends lists into public information; it asked them to either publicize their likes and interests or delete such information entirely; it removed the option to conceal their profile photos; Facebook even let some partner websites tap into profiles without asking. The list goes on and on.
Through it all, Zuckerberg has been alternately defiant and chastened. For every couple of pieces of personal information his company has appropriated, he's given one back, roughly speaking. But the net effect has been to give Facebook an unprecedented amount of information about an unprecedented number of people.
Click to viewThere's a philosophical underpinning to these moves. Zuckerberg seems to believe that "the age of privacy is over"; he said after a wave of Facebook privacy rollbacks that "we decided that these would be the social norms now."
All in all, Facebook's CEO doesn't seem too preoccupied about your privacy, or about ours. Likewise, we weren't bothered by the notion of tailing him around the Valley for a few days, or about sharing the experience with you. Enjoy.