There’s no better time to make the comparison between Apple’s legendary founder, Steve Jobs and Facebook’s cherub-faced creator Mark Zuckerberg.
In the aftermath of Facebook’s not-so-great IPO that didn’t become the mother-of-all-IPOs one expected it to be, the tech world is left wondering – is the social network’s wunderkind the next Steve Jobs?
Where the two look similar
The visionary entrepreneur that he was, Jobs was in a class of his own. And you don’t need to own an Apple product to know that. (It helps, though). Already, the superficial comparisons have been made.
Both men dropped out of college, Jobs from Reed College and Zuckerberg from Harvard; their claim to fame came early on in life for both. That aspect is considered the norm rather than the exception for computer whiz kids, Bill Gates included.
Until his death, Steve Jobs remained an almost cultish figure whose annual conferences became shows watched by millions of Apple fans. It is said that Facebook’s F8 is closely modeled on Appe’sMacWorld although Zuckerberg doesn’t score at all in showmanship talent that was so natural for Jobs.
Perhaps the superficial similarities end there - Jobs was frugal about sharing his customers’ data with others. Zuckerbergon on the other hand has had no qualms about letting down the digital expectations of his customers.
As a dedicated pioneer of information technology, Steve Jobs strived to seek ultimate perfection in his products. Zuckerberg needs no such perfection, preferring instead to seek dominance and leadership in a cyber-quest for Facebook as the ultimate social network.
From the start, Apple had a model of an upstart, an aficionado’s alternative if you like; Facebook started off on a vision of saturating the social network world.
But where they both look similar is when you compare the level of hype generated for both their brands – and the level of belief both men had in their respective vision, that made them global personalities even a ten-year-old child would recognize.
Creators of new dimensions
Today’s world as we all know is a different one where each customer has a voice – and a choice.
Steve Jobs set his computers apart from the rest by their design, the way the software clicked. Apple has always placed a tremendous level of confidence in their Zen sleek products, their software, the whole package.
That’s why even after his death, Apple products live on strong, comfortable even without the mega hype of their founder. Apple so to speak, has become a legend just like the man who created it.
Zuckerberg seemed to have done a similar thing with his social network that has taken firm root in the lives of cyberspace users. You are involved as a Facebook user – you switch on your computer and check your FB updates.
You switch on your smartphone and your FB updates come flooding down. You know what your friends are doing. You see their holiday photos and share yours.
I have personally found long lost friends and classmates I would never have found if not for Facebook. Zuckerberg has driven the concept of the social network deep into our lives and there seems to be no going back.
As kindred spirits, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg have both enlarged the territory of the way we operate; they have given us a new dimension in computer technology and social networking.
Compared to Steve Jobs the recluse, Zuckerberg has maintained what they call a balanced image. He recently married his long-term live-in girlfriend in a low key wedding. He does not twitter, does not show off and maintains a low key profile.
Charity styles far apart
The famous words Steve Jobs uttered to former Pepsi CEO John Sculley who came on board – and then eventually fell out with Jobs – as Apple’s CEO, “Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life, or do you want to come with me and change the world?” resounds somewhat with what Zuckerberg is said to share with those that join Facebook.
One employee recalls that Zuckerberg would take them to a look out and show the terrain in front of them; he would typically point out to Apple headquarters and HP headquarters among others and tell the new employee that he was joining a company that was going to be bigger than them all.
Styles apart, when it comes to corporate giving, it seems Zuckerberg is in league with the king of philanthropy, Mr. Gates. Steve Jobs was notorious for not giving to charity as he could have but Zuckerberg seems to have been inspired by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, two of the world’s richest men.
Zuckerberg became one of the world’s youngest billionaires at 26 but has pledged himself to the “Giving Pledge” initiated by Gates and Buffet. Zuckerberg has given away before – he has donated an undisclosed amount to the open social network project Diaspora and has also donated US$ 100 million to Newark Public Schools.
Zuckerberg along with Bill Gates, Warran Buffet and 57 other billionaires and multi-millionaires has promised to give away more than half of his wealth to charity either during his lifetime or after his death, in the ‘Giving Pledge”.
So there we have it – there is someone who can fit the shoes of El Jobso, after all. Mark Zuckerberg and his Facebook is not everyone’s darling but he certainly seems to have caught a bit of Steve Jobs – a commitment to innovation, a true spirit of entrepreneurship and keeping his customers locked on a dial he loves and they cannot seem to live without.
(Nayomini, a senior journalist, writer and a PR professional can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)