For the past few months, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg sure has looked like a guy who's considering running for president. He's been touring the country, visiting diners and truck stops, having dinner with a typical Ohio family, even punching the clock at a Ford factory.
All the kinds of things future presidential candidates do on "listening tours" or exploratory committee runs. Adding to the speculation: He's been accompanied by former political operatives on his jaunts.
So: Zuckerberg 2020! He certainly would have the whole Facebook-algorithm thing figured out for his ads.
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Sorry, nope, says Nathan Hubbard, former CEO of Ticketmaster, who took to Twitter last weekend to explain what he thinks is going on: Zuckerberg was taken aback by how Facebook was used during the 2016 election, to spread fake news, inflammatory rhetoric and therefore help elect Donald Trump. He's now meeting with the common people, Hubbard contends, to understand how that happened and how Facebook needs to be further iterated.
Here is Hubbard's tweet thread, condensed:
"Zuck isn't running for President. He's trying to understand the role the product he created played in getting this one elected. Facebook has undergone two major evolutionary events in its history, both of which were driven by what Zuck saw as existential threats. The incredible revenue growth in mobile (probably the greatest biz execution of our generation) helped Facebook survive a platform shift. And the fearless acquisitive streak of Instagram, WhatsApp and others helped Facebook survive a shift in how we communicate and organize.
"Zuck woke up on Nov 9th acutely aware that FB had facilitated a new shift he didn't foresee or understand; that's terrifying to a founder. He's the head of product. So he's ventured out into the world beyond his bubble to do field research and inform how FB will evolve again. Yes, these pictures we are seeing of Zuck meeting people look like outtakes from Forrest Gump meets "The 40 Year Old Virgin"...
"And for those reasons it's silly to assign him Presidential aspirations. He has very few of the skills we've just seen it takes to win. He does, however, have a ruthless survival instinct combined with a boundless desire to learn. That's how he got here, folks. We have rightly vilified founders of late who could not personally learn, grow and evolve to lead their companies and products forward. So I admire a founder who, however Machiavellian, cares enough to understand the people using the platform he created. #Sheryl2020"
(By Sheryl, Hubbard means Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's CEO, who was on the shortlist of Hillary Clinton's potential cabinet as the Commerce Secretary.)
How's that for throwing cold water on hot speculation? (Although a glance at the Constitution would have done the same: Zuckerberg will be 31 in 2020, four years too young to be elected president per the Founding Fathers).
Zuckerberg hasn't weighed in on Hubbard's Theorum.