Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is apparently sensitive to comparisons betweeen himself and other tech moguls.
As part of the tech company’s research into public perceptions of him, Zuckerberg was reportedly “incredulous” after being shown polling data where he is labeled under “Historic Innovation” along with Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.
The description under it said: “Once pushed the limit/boundaries to develop something new.” Another slide, however, showed Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Tesla’s Elon Musk with the label “Current Innovation” and the following description: “Continuing to push the envelope.”
Bloomberg reports on the tech mogul’s reaction upon seeing the research in June 2017:
“Zuckerberg was incredulous. … The idea that he was a former innovator, and not a current innovator, wasn’t just a knock on Zuckerberg himself – it was a knock on Facebook, which relies on its reputation for creativity to recruit software coders and sustain company morale.”
The business news outlet reports that Facebook conducted the research on Zuckerberg’s reputation, along with that of COO Sheryl Sandberg, as a way to improve the public’s attitute and trust toward the social network. “My team did this research with the goal of convincing him and improving both,” Facebook’s former head of marketing Gary Briggs, told Bloomberg. “In the end, Mark chose not to focus on this much.”
“Conducting reputation research on companies and executives is entirely standard practice across industries,” a Facebook spokesperson told Fox News.
Facebook’s reputation for innovation has taken a hit in recent years, in particular over criticism that it essentially copied some of the best features from Snapchat for Instagram, which it also owns.
Zuckerberg and Gates are known to be friends, and Bloomberg points out that the 35-year-old tech executive considers Gates a mentor.
Other slides examined reactions to Zuckerberg’s Harvard University commencement address in May 2017; his speech was reportedly rated more “inspiring” than his F8 conference keynote talk in part because he included “his own experiences.”
Facebook, which has struggled to combat misinformation and fake news on its platform, used the results of its research to ocassionally issue special alerts to dispute viral, untrue posts and hoaxes about the company and its policies.
By Christopher Carbone