Is Mark Zuckerberg Ready to Change the World?

There's one thing that Facebook's IPO on Friday is all about: Mark Zuckerberg. Facebook's young founder and CEO has naturally garnered no shortage of attention in the recent weeks and years as the social network has ballooned to encompass nearly 13% of the world's 7 billion people. That's 901 million monthly active users, or MAUs, in the eight years since Facebook was founded in 2004.

Public companies have wildly different expectations than private ones, including much more accountability, more stringent regulatory oversight, and wider investor bases that will scrutinize each and every move, for better or for worse.

Is Zuck ready for this?

Happy Birthday, Zuck
Zuckerberg's birthday was Monday, and his birth-week gift to the world will be the public debut of a company that the investing public can't wait to get its collective hands on, for better or for worse. At 28 years young, his estimated net worth of $17.5 billion already rivals that of Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN  ) CEO and founder Jeff Bezos with $18.4 billion at age 48 and tops Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) CEO Steve Ballmer with $15.7 billion at age 56.

He started Facebook when he was 19. For context, Steve Jobs was 21 when he founded Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) and Bill Gates was also 19 when he founded Microsoft. That makes Sergey Brin and Larry Page look old and gray, since both of them were 25 when they founded Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) .

Allow me to introduce myself to... myself
Not only are potential investors trusting Zuckerberg's ability to lead the social butterfly to riches as its CEO, but they also must trust his judgment on other matters since he will still hold 57.3% of the voting power after the IPO.

This makes Facebook a "controlled company" under the corporate governance rules for Nasdaq-listed companies, which eliminates the requirement that a majority of the board be independent directors as well as the requirement to have an independent nominating function. That means the board is the one responsible for nominating... the board.

Much ado about hoodie
Amid the media frenzy over the past week and Facebook's investor road show, some outlets have focused on Zuck's chosen attire of a casual hoodie. Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter has been among the more vocal critics, calling his hoodie a "mark of immaturity," adding that Zuckerberg should show more respect to the investors he's trying to earn.

To capitalize on the controversy, apparel maker Betabrand has even released an "executive hoodie" that is like a pinstripe suit jacket combined with a hoodie.

The wardrobe choice is undoubtedly Zuckerberg's homage to his idol and mentor Steve Jobs, who began donning his casual trademark black turtleneck and jeans at public appearances in the late '90s. The hoodie shows that Zuckerberg doesn't answer to anyone, also much like Jobs.

Investors are going to want Zuckerberg to show that he can put up numbers, in which case they won't care what he wears. Jobs steered Apple from near bankruptcy to become the largest company in the world by market cap, so he could have gallivanted around in his underwear without consequence because he delivered where it counts.

If Zuckerberg can do the same with Facebook's fate in the coming years, all this hoodie talk will quickly fade into the background.

The toughest balancing act
Zuckerberg will be tasked with balancing the pressures from advertisers that want to get in front of the eyes of all those users while keeping all those users happy without cheapening the feel of the site with overly obnoxious ads, all under the watchful eye of the Street.

That's a lot of weight on one young man's shoulders, and just like my Uncle Ben used to tell me: "With great power comes great responsibility." Investors must trust that Zuck is up to the task.

This all underscores so much of the uncertainty surrounding Facebook, making some people question its worth as an investment. Our senior technology analyst certainly agrees. In fact, he thinks there's a much better opportunity in the social media industry. He details it in our most recent free research report. To find out about this game-changing growth story, just click here to access your copy today.

Fool contributor Evan Niu doesn't have an Uncle Ben, but Peter Parker did. He owns shares of Apple and Amazon.com, but he holds no other position in any company mentioned. Click here to see his holdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft, Amazon.com, and Google. The Fool owns shares of Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Microsoft, Amazon.com, Google, and Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a bull call spread position in Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.


Read/Post Comments (7) | Recommend This Article (15)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On May 19, 2012, at 2:15 PM, nahid wrote:

    one cannot compare Mr.Zuckerberg to any of the people you named.they all had a concrete product for the market . What is Mr. Zuckerberg selling an empty space for other people to sell their product.

    unless he convinces his membership +

    to follow and trust what is being advertised on Facebook as true? I cannot perceive Facebook as an investment at the moment the future will tell.

  • Report this Comment On May 19, 2012, at 3:11 PM, acornfool wrote:

    I don't reallt care about facebook. right now I am more concerned about CHK and WPRT. CHK has dropped $11.00 a share since I bought it 2 months ago. Should double down or get out? As for WPRT so far I'm just watching it. Would really like to know your thoughts on these 2 stocks.

    Thanks

    acornfool

  • Report this Comment On May 19, 2012, at 6:06 PM, lowmaple wrote:

    My problem with facebook is with 900 million users How many more can it get. AAPL has better growth prospects and WRPT has enormous growth. I am a buyer of it and AAPL at these prices.

  • Report this Comment On May 19, 2012, at 9:57 PM, zatman wrote:

    Mr. Zuckerberg was a brilliant founder and maybe a visionary but....what does he know about running a company? He dare not lose Ms. Sandberg or he will have to grow up.

  • Report this Comment On May 20, 2012, at 3:20 AM, kmarkt2 wrote:

    Brilliant, yes; changing the world through social platform - yes; creating wealth - NO; FB is a distraction, contemporaneous and flirtatious and needs an arsenal of patents to pay for to keep pole position in social eco system. The real world needs food, water, clean air, healthcare, education, not social distractions.

  • Report this Comment On May 20, 2012, at 10:23 AM, charlieandi wrote:

    Your article contains no new information or insight into FB. It is a total waste except that it provides Motley a platform to sell more products. As a member of Stock Advisor I should have this information without having too go thru all your gyrations to receive it. What a waste of time.

  • Report this Comment On May 25, 2012, at 1:52 PM, whyaduck1128 wrote:

    1. The real question for The Great Zuckerberg is whether he CAN change the world, not if he's ready.

    2. Does the world NEED to be changed by The Great Zuckerberg?

    3. Does the world CARE if The Great Zuckerberg wants or is able to change it?

    Like so many of its users, MF is taking this Facebook thing far too seriously. In a world full of real problems, you're yakking about a "service" that does nothing to really help people.

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