I hung out in a small group of reporters like me who started peppering Zuckerberg with questions, mainly about competition with Twitter over dominance of the market for online personal photos.
For a young man clearly feeling the heat of competition, Zuckerberg did a good job keeping his cool. His response about how the two companies are well aligned (as a little sweat gathered on his brow) reminded me of what it must have been like for a young Bill Gates trying to walk the line between support for Windows and IBM’s OS/2.
Most questions revolved around mobile. Zuckerberg said he has been testing Facebook’s Android app. He said he never uses a computer (meaning PC) anymore and splits his time between an iPhone 5 and Galaxy S III.
His PR handler Elliot reminded us this was a holiday party, not a press Q&A, so I tossed him a softball, asking about his Mandarin. He said languages came hard for him but he gave it a try. His peak moment was when he described in Mandarin how told his mother-in-law he wanted to marry her daughter, Priscilla Chan, and saw a single tear run down her cheek.
More People magazine fodder followed. Zuckerberg told friends he was planning a surprise party to celebrate Priscilla’s graduation from medical school as a way to keep under wraps their plans for a wedding--and as a way to ensure only really close friends would choose to come. (Can a billionaire have just a few close friends?)
The party/wedding was in the works for six months. At the last moment he found out it would be the same week as the IPO. One can only hope the couple fares better than the stock offering.
After a hearty laugh, Elliot ferried Zuckerberg away and we were left to talk among ourselves and enjoy the sushi, chardonnay and company of celebrity media folk such as Walt Mossberg and the Scobleizer.
Amid all the commotion, I snapped one picture with my iPhone (below), completely forgetting I had my Nikon DSC in my back pocket. The poor quality of the pix didn’t stop two young Bloomberg TV reporters I captured on camera from asking me to e-mail and text them copies.
For such media mavens the Facebook outing was just another stop on the road of holiday Web 2.0 outings. Apparently Marissa Mayer made an appearance at the Yahoo event earlier in the week, and Google is having its bash in San Francisco. I wonder if Sergey and Larry will be there.
All this tech glamour stands on nearly anonymous but very strong shoulders of folks like Kurt Ronse who I call Mr. EUV.