Happy Birthday, Mark Zuckerberg, You Smug S.O.B.

Sometimes you read a piece of news that just deflates your ego for the rest of the day. Today Mark Zuckerberg, whom you may recall founded a popular social network known as the Facebook, is turning 28 years old. This comes just a couple weeks after my own birthday, when I turned a somewhat larger number. Mark Zuckerberg is about to lead his company into an IPO valuing it at $100 billion; I received an ice cream maker which I am very pleased with.

But I don’t want Mark to get the idea that his age and accomplishments make him in any way unique or special. To take him down a couple notches on his birthday, following is a quick review of what some famous historical personages have accomplished by the same age.

Alexander the Great: After assuming the throne in 336 BCE at the age of 20 (having possibly connived in the murder of his own father) Alexander III of Macedon went on to conquer the vast Persian Empire, including the modern countries of Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt, Iraq and Iran, by the age of 28. Along the way he became a god-king and modestly founded 18 cities named after himself, as well as one named after his horse. Cities named after Mark Zuckerberg: 0.



Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Born in 1756, at the age of six Mozart began a multi-year tour of Europe, giving private concerts for the Austrian Emperor in Vienna as well as royal courts in Prague, Paris, London, Munich, and elsewhere. He wrote his first symphony when he was eight and his first opera when he was 14. By the age of 28, Mozart had written some of his most famous works, including his piano concertos and the Mass in C minor, and was about to compose operas including The Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni. Operas composed by Mark Zuckerberg: 0.

Pablo Picasso: Born in 1881, by the age of 28 Picasso had helped invent Cubism with his breakthrough painting Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, finished in 1907. Although the painting, which depicted prostitutes apparently wearing tribal masks, was considered immoral and wasn’t displayed publicly until 1916, it laid the groundwork for much of 20th century modern art. Artistic movements founded by Mark Zuckerberg: 0.

6 comments about "Happy Birthday, Mark Zuckerberg, You Smug S.O.B.".
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  1. Russell Cross from Prentke Romich, May 14, 2012 at 1:11 p.m.

    Readers of Nicholas Taleb's excellent "Fooled by Randomness" will also be able to take comfort in knowing that MZ simply represents the apex of a confluence of chance events. This is the "Survivor Bias," which basically says that we attribute something "special" to survivors when in reality, it's more likely that they are simply there by chance i.e. "someone" had to be a survivor.

    Sadly, understanding all this at the level of probability and reality doesn't make it any easier to avoid thinking "Lucky bastard, I could have done that!"

  2. Michael Strassman from WGBH, May 14, 2012 at 2:17 p.m.

    to pile on with Russell, let's all take a deep breath and keep this in perspective...he didn't cure cancer, he didn't compose a symphony...from what I can see, he didn't even create something of enormous intrinsic value. He was smart enough (yes) and lucky enough to found an online social database of social-striving Ivy League-ers that blew up beyond the wildest expectations of its founders. Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, Steve Jobs the PC...Zuckerberg invented what, exactly? And it has improved people's lives how?

  3. Gary Klein from GKlein&associates, May 14, 2012 at 2:39 p.m.

    Looking at this from a perhaps more balanced perspective, he didn't have any cities named after him or his horse which, actually when you think about it is no big deal; and he probably isn't the pure genius of Mozart, but then again doesn't have that unstable counterpoint of genius which most do have; and didn't found an artistic movement, however, he did successfully create the vehicle for almost a fifth of the worlds population to discover and then interact with each other on a real time basis. Sounds legacy-like to me.

  4. Khalid Low from Reindeer Company, May 14, 2012 at 2:47 p.m.

    Another way to look at this is this way

    Alexander the Great: He was responsible for the destruction of tons property & villages, Rape, Pillage, enslaving women & Children, plunder, killings (in the name of conquering the world:
    Any kind or form of destruction by Marc Zuckerberg 0
    Pablo Picasso: He was extremely poor and only saw wealth towards the end of his life:
    Absence of wealth in Marc Zuckerberg’s life 0
    Wolfgang A Mozart: Had money problems and often borrowed money from family and friends to throw parties or buy expensive items and was afflicted with depression & anxiety:
    Absence of wealth or maladies (that we know of) in Marc Zuckerberg 0

  5. Steve Sarner from if(we), May 14, 2012 at 4:32 p.m.

    Wow - some comments - Happy Birthday Erik and enjoy some ice cream!

  6. Jessica Burdman from iCrossing, May 16, 2012 at 10:41 a.m.

    Cheers and Happy Birthday Erik! Love reading your column. I'm pretty sure Zuck won't go down in the history books. I hope he does some good for humanity with his big bucks - a la Marc Benioff and Bill Gates. We'll see.

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