Finally watched this film. I liked it. A couple of articles from the New Yorker provided very good contextual read relating to the film.
- Movie Review: Influencing People – David Fincher and “The Social Network”, by David Denby
- Profile: The Face of Facebook – Mark Zuckerberg opens up. by Jose Antonio Vargas
The last paragraph from David Denby’s review summed up my main impression after watching the film.
Zuckerberg’s tragedy, of course, is that he leaves behind his friends as well as his intellectual inferiors. It may not be fair to Zuckerberg, but Sorkin and Fincher have set him up as a symbolic man of the age, a supremely functional prince of dysfunction. Charles Foster Kane was convivial and outgoing; Zuckerberg engages only the world he is creating. But those viewers who think of him as nothing more than a vindictive little shit will be responding to only one part of him. He’s a revolutionary because he broods on his personal grievances and, as insensitive as he is, reaches the aggrieved element in everyone, the human desire for response. He’s meant to be a hero—certainly he’s Fincher’s hero, an artist working in code who sticks to his vision and is helpless to prevent himself from suffering the most wounding personal loss.
I also really like the scene when the twins to go and meet Harvard’s president Larry Summers. David Denby’s interpretation of the scene seems amusing to me.
Fincher and Sorkin treat the brothers as squarely honorable traditionalists. They go to see Larry Summers (Douglas Urbanski), then the president of Harvard, to complain about Zuckerberg, and one can feel, in this seemingly unimportant scene, history falling into place, a shift from one kind of capitalism to another. Fincher and Sorkin wickedly imply that Summers is Zuckerberg thirty years older and many pounds heavier. He has the same kind of brightest-guy-in-the-room arrogance, and little sympathy for entitled young men talking about ethics when they’ve been left behind by a faster innovator.
As if to vindicate Denby’s claim above, here is a little revelation from Jose Antonio Vargas’s article that closes up this perfect circle.
In the early years, Facebook tore through a series of senior executives. “A revolving door would be an understatement—it was very unstable,” Breyer said. Within ten days of hiring an executive, Breyer told me, Zuckerberg would e-mail or call him and say that the new hire needed to get the boot. Things calmed down in March, 2008, when Zuckerberg hired Sheryl Sandberg, a veteran of Google who was the chief of staff for Lawrence Summers when he was Secretary of the Treasury. She joined Facebook as the company’s chief operating officer, and executives followed her from companies like eBay, Genentech, and Mozilla. A flood of former Google employees soon arrived, too.
Zukerberg and Sandberg really gets along. Zukerberg and Summers probably would’ve too.
While David Denby’s review is about the movie and the director. Jose Antonio Vargas article extended the story outside of the movie, the saga continues…
Meanwhile, however, most of Zuckerberg’s close friends, who worked for Facebook at the start, have left. Adam D’Angelo, who has been friends with Zuckerberg since their hacking and programming days at Exeter, teamed up with another former Facebook employee, Charlie Cheever, to start Quora.com, a social network that aggregates questions and answers on various topics. Chris Hughes, Zuckerberg’s Harvard roommate, left to join the Obama campaign and later founded the philanthropic site Jumo.com.
In part, the exodus reflects the status that former Facebook employees have in the tech world. But the departures also point to the difficulty some people have working for Zuckerberg. It’s hard to have a friend for a boss, especially someone who saw the site, from its inception, as “A Mark Zuckerberg production”—the tag line was posted on every page during Facebook’s early days. “Ultimately, it’s ‘the Mark show,’ ” one of his closest friends told me.
In late July, Facebook launched the beta version of Questions, a question-and-answer product that seems to be a direct competitor of Quora. To many people, the move seemed a vindictive attack on friends and former employees. In an interview, Cheever declined to comment, as did Matt Cohler, another friend who left the company, and who invested in Quora.
Chris Cox, Facebook’s vice-president of product, said that Facebook Questions is not an attack on Quora. “We’ve been talking about questions being the future of the way people search for stuff, so it was a matter of time before we built it,” Cox told me. “Getting there first is not what it’s all about.” He added, “What matters always is execution. Always.”
The surprising fact that i didn’t know before reading Vargas’ story was that Zuckerberg’s “classical streak.”
It is very fitting, in a way. The fact that most of his close friends have left reminded me of Kings and Emperors from history, when they started killing their generals after the empire has been built. Because an empire belongs to the King, and to the King only.
Another fun fact from Vargas’ article. “The West Wing” was Zuckerberg’s favorite tv show, until he found out the script writer of this movie is the same person, then he took “West Wing” off his “favorite” from his facebook page. On the other hand, when Vargas’ told Sorkin that Zuckerberg is a big fan of “The West Wing”, Sorkin felt a bit awkward “I really wish you haven’t told me that.”
Lastly, if you are like me, you might also want to read the script:
The Social Network.