Last month, we started hearing scuttlebutt that Mark Zuckerberg was on the outs with sisters Randi and Arielle. So we approached today's New York Times profile of Randi Zuckerberg with a jaded eye. But we didn't have to read too closely between the lines to find the tension between Facebook's CEO and his older sibling.
In today's Thursday Styles profile, Zuckerberg fameballs it up, per usual, shouting "This is the launch party of Randi Zuckerberg!" at a Midtown karaoke club, telling a Times writer, "I want a talk show," and then adding that's she'd also like a philanthropic sideline and by the way it would be nice to sing on Broadway, too (!).
Randi's self-promotional streak has not gone over so well at Facebook, as the Times details. It was Mark Zuckerberg's idea to hire his sister at Facebook, and she had some success there in the marketing department, helping team with CNN to live stream Barack Obama's inauguration and netting an Emmy nomination for Facebook's Vote 2010 project with ABC News. But her off the wall antics eventually got her frozen out.
After a sharp online backlash, she came to regret doing an over-the-top lip dub in a Las Vegas swimming pool with walking attention sponge Julia Allison. In 2009, brother Mark scolded Randi for saying in a video that Facebook had not been received well at the Republican National Convention.
Then she "went a little rogue," in her own words, conducting video interviews with notable visitors in a converted closet at Facebook HQ, and doing live Facebook interviews, apparently without full sanction, at events like the World Economic Forum, where she questioned former British prime minister Tony Blair. Then:
EARLIER this year, Ms. Zuckerberg said she began to notice that many of the projects she championed were being given to a team to manage without her authority. "It was a little frustrating," she said. She said she did not discuss the situation with her brother. But as Facebook became more bureaucratic, it seemed to her that there was less room for a personality like hers. "I was butting up against being myself and trying to lie low," she said.
So, Ms. Zuckerberg decided to leave. And, recently, she said she advised her youngest sister, Arielle, who works at Wildfire Interactive, a computer software company in Redwood City, Calif., to not join Facebook until she had established her own reputation.
Supposedly, Arielle was telling people in Silicon Valley this summer that she and her sister weren't talking to their brother. Randi denied this through an intermediary, making it known to us earlier this month that she'd hosted Zuck for Rosh Hashanah. That, of course, is the Jewish new year, which is followed by a 10-day period of repentance and concludes with Yom Kippur, the day of atonement.
That would seem like a helpful cycle for the Zuckerbergs to go through together. Mark wouldn't speak personally to the Times about his sister, even at her urging, instead dispatching a spokesman to email the paper and praise Randi's creativity and efforts to make "the world more open and connected."
As for Randi, it's hard not to notice the songs she chose for tequila-shot-fueled karaoke in front of a Times reporter: Birtney Spears's breakup anthem "Baby One More Time" and Gloria Gaynor's breakup anthem "I Will Survive." The last time we checked, Randi was happily married with a new baby. But then maybe there's been some other sort of painful separation on her mind.
[Photo of Randi Zuckerberg via Getty]