As I write these words, Facebook's recent IPO is mired in controversy. Since the social media's stock debut, shares have fallen and lawsuits about unfair insider investor arrangements have been filed. Facebook in many circles is now being seen as an overvalued scam—even though it was the biggest IPO in history, and its shares are still in the one hundred billion dollar range.
Can it be that Mark Zuckerberg will never get any respect?
IPO issues notwithstanding, Zuckerberg's innovative site has had a transformative business impact since it first went online in 2004. Most if not all of us have hit the "Like" button on its non-traditional marketing tools, which have been an absolute game-changer. Facebook isn't just the Social Network - it's also the ideal place for informal business networking, as well as targeted advertising.
And yet, the website continues to attract attacks and Zuckerberg himself remains a polarizing figure. When he showed up on Wall Street a few weeks ago to promote the stock offering, Wall Street took a good look at the hoodie he was wearing and sighed. Michael Pachter, Wedbush Securities' managing director, commented that Zuckerberg's wardrobe decision was "...actually showing investors he doesn't care very much."
While most of us would undoubtedly dress a wee bit better for an investor meeting, none of us are Mark Zuckerberg. Zuckerberg, like Steve Jobs before him, has demonstrated that he has earned the right to "think differently." It was that kind of mindset that enabled him to create one of the most breakthrough websites in the world. Facebook's population would rank it third in size behind China and India if it were a country - that's a pretty amazing accomplishment.
Despite the popular portrayal of Zuckerberg as someone severely lacking in people skills, it's clear he's created an employee culture that not only works like gangbusters, but also reveres its leader. A recent study by the website GlassDoor.com showed that 94% of workers approve of Zuckerberg's leadership, compared to an average CEO approval rating of 62%. Facebook's employee morale rating also hits an astounding 4.7 out of 5.
Why? Well, listen to the words of Joe Hewitt, who was a Mobile Developer at Facebook. He recently left the company for another opportunity and had this to say about his years there:
You’ll often hear Zuck and others talk about how they want Facebook to keep its startup mentality. And the way they do it is to constantly encourage people to try new ideas and run with them, without any meddling from above. While some projects ultimately require approval before they ship, you can go very long stretches with total autonomy.
Sounds like a recipe for success. And you can even wear a hoodie to work.