The Facebook Kid
Thank you for your story on Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook ("Hacker. Dropout. CEO," May). I don't believe any other article has struck such a chord with me as this story of the 22-year-old CEO. I am impressed by Zuckerberg's resolve, his commitment to technology, and his beliefs about his company's ultimate legacy. As a young CEO myself, I'm not sure if I could turn down a $1 billion offer. That's a lot of zeros to walk away from. What I've learned from your article is that it's okay to stay true to your core values, and make your product better, not necessarily bigger.
Facebook's Fans Gather
Great article! I should be in bed because I have an exam tomorrow morning, but this was worth the read.
This is one of the best cover stories I have read about perseverance and simple vision. It's always gratifying to follow the launch of a successful career like Zuckerberg's. Your story captures his accomplishments as well as why he's considered an innovator, visionary, and role model for new generations.
Andhra Pradesh, India
Good luck to Facebook. Like a tide that raises all boats, it's increasing Web acreage gives hope to all developers.
Frank G. Geiger
Mountainside, New Jersey
As I read your article on Mark Zuckerberg, I wondered whether he had made a bad decision turning down
Letters From Authentic Readers
I can remember when A&F's stores looked like Brooks Brothers with shotguns. Because it was famous for making hunting gear for aristocrats who went on safari in Africa, that would seem to make sense. But that was merely the brand's "gesture," not its raison d'être. If you look at why they did what they did, I would contend that A&F's mission was (and is) to make the most extraordinary gear for the most fascinating people when they do the most interesting things in the world.
If you accept this idea, then it frees the brand to leverage its authenticity as a means of staying relevant and meaningful, rather than being stifled by an out-of-date gesture that keeps the brand stuck in the past. And so, when one asks if a brand that used to make safari gear for aristocrats can credibly make surf wear for college coeds who go to Costa Rica for spring break, the answer is, absolutely. After all, its whole reason for being is to make the most extraordinary gear (surf wear) for the most fascinating people (college coeds) when they do the most interesting things (go on spring break in Costa Rica).
Show me a brand that has lost its way, such as Brooks Brothers, and I'll show you a company that has mistaken its gesture (button-down-collar men's shirts) for its raison d'être (innovation in men's fashion).
New York, New York
Just what is authentic, anyway? We all love a good story. For example, you cite Samuel Adams as authentic. Sure, its founder Jim Koch is a Harvard grad whose family has some brewing roots. However, Samuel Adams has been a contract brewer from the start. Koch's
Meanwhile, you cite George Killian's Irish Red as an inauthentic big-company brand. Killian's was originally made by an actual Irish brewer. Coors first imported the brand, then decided that shipping water was not a good proposition. They watered down the flavor and sold it as an Irish-style beer!
Yet Coors has learned. It leaves its name off of its currently hot Blue Moon Belgian-style beer, and gullible folks lap it up not knowing its real source.
Kansas City, Missouri
In your article, you touched on the Stepford wife of ice cream, a company that embodies everything I find contemptuous in modern business: Cold Stone Creamery. It is, technically, my competitor, but that doesn't matter. Two summers ago, Cold Stone opened literally across the street from one of my J.P. Licks shops in Newton Center, Massachusetts. Our sales haven't dropped a bit.
Cold Stone has committed a far more grievous sin than
Spokesperson Kevin Donnellan of Cold Stone Creamery responds:
"Folks are voting with their wallets and continue to engage in what we call 'our entertainment factor' to the tune of nearly $500 million in systemwide sales for 2006. In a short time frame, we have gone from an unknown concept in one Tempe, Arizona, store to 1,400 stores nationwide, with outlets as far away as Japan."
I read with amusement Chuck Salter's story about
J. Elias Portnoy
Los Angeles, California
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A version of this article appeared in the July/August 2007 issue of Fast Company magazine.