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Mark Zuckerberg Says Facebook Is Done With Being Cool

In a wide-ranging interview with James Bennet, editor-in-chief of The Atlantic, Mark Zuckerberg talks immigration reform, government requests for user data, and Facebook losing its cool.

A Democrat? A Republican? No, Mark Zuckerberg prefers to label himself as pro-knowledge economy, where ideas make up the currency. It's a fitting answer for the Facebook CEO, who knows he'll have to reach both sides of the aisle in a bid to transform immigration laws.

Zuckerberg traveled to Washington, D.C., with an agenda, meeting Democrat and Republican lawmakers to discuss reform that could affect 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. Soon after leaving the Hill, he changed out of his suit and tie and into his signature hoodie to speak to The Atlantic's editor-in-chief, James Bennet, in a wide-ranging conversation at the Newseum on Wednesday.

Much of the discussion was a rehash of Zuckerberg's talk at TechCrunch Disrupt last week, where he spoke about his advocacy group FWD.us. In addition to lobbying for immigration reform, he also emphasized how seriously Facebook takes user privacy and said the company pushes back against government requests that are overly broad. "The more transparency the government has, the better folks would feel," he said.

One of the more jovial moments of the interview was when Bennet asked if Facebook could lose its coolness à la MySpace. "People assume that we’re trying to be cool. It’s never been my goal. I’m the least cool person there is," he admitted. "We’re almost 10 years old, so we’re definitely not a niche thing anymore so that kind of angle for coolness is done for us."

He continues, making an analogy to electricity: "Maybe electricity was cool when it first came out, but pretty quickly people stopped talking about it because it’s not the new thing. The real question you want to track at that point is: Are fewer people turning on their lights because it’s less cool?"

Cool or not, Facebook can tout more than a billion users on its platform.

[Image: Flickr user mkhmarketing]

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