Sunday, December 21, 2014

Weighing both sides of Zuckerberg's 'Hoodiegate' controversy

We understand both arguments.

Weighing both sides of Zuckerberg's 'Hoodiegate' controversy

Mark Zuckerberg in a hoodie. (STEVEN SENNE / Associated Press, file)
Mark Zuckerberg in a hoodie. (STEVEN SENNE / Associated Press, file)

For the tailored-suit wearing, Piguet watch-adorning, style-conscious group of old-school corporate investors on Wall Street, Mark Zuckerberg's choice to wear a hoodie to an IPO presentation was arguably disrespectful, sloppy and inconsiderate.

The father of Facebook, who is currently prepping to go public on Friday, has created a stir with his sartorial NYSE choice of wear. Leading Zuck's group of critics is Michael Pachter, also the first analyst to give Facebook a buy rating in early May. In an interview with Bloomberg, Pachter publicly denounced Zuckerberg's hoodie choice by calling it a "mark of immaturity." His mentality reflects why certain investors and analysts are currently troubled by Zuck:

"I mean, he’s actually showing investors he doesn’t care that much. He’s going to be him, and he’s going to do what he’s always done. I think that’s a mark of immaturity. I think that he has to realize he’s bringing investors in as a new constituency right now, and I think he’s got to show them the respect that they deserve because he’s asking them for their money." (Bloomberg)

In response, Zuckerberg allies and supporters have quickly assembled to defend the co-founder and CEO of the social media company. The vast majority of these individuals see and accept the stark differences between the world of Wall Street and the dot com realm. To them, Zuck's hoodies are the equivalent to Steve Jobs' black turtlenecks. Furthermore, they find the recent complaints an obstruction of creative freedom and flow.

Thoughts on Mark Zuckerberg's hoodie at a Facebook IPO presentation meeting?
Disrespectful: He needs to grow up
Acceptable: Leave him alone- he's a creative genius

To the tech geeks and nerds of Silicon Valley, so much of what they develop goes against the intended and charted norms of the world. Zuckerberg's hoodie is not only a statement of self-expression, but a material symbol of success. 

We know that given Zuckerberg's wealth and influence, he could afford a perfectly-tailored Zegna suit made of Italy's finest wool- if he chooses to do so. He certainly could have walked into that room of investors in super-shiny black leather shoes, representing his company in an "appropriate" outfit and a brand new Rolex watch strapped on his wrist. But that's who he is essentially- Zuckerberg is a renegade, a 28-year-old who knows that his success story and creative vision is not based on what he wears, but who he is- original, one-of-a-kind.

His hoodie tells Wall Street that he is not willing to compromise his identity because they demand that he comply to their standards and rules.

To be honest, I actually find that refreshing.

Esther Lee Philly.com
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Reach Esther at elee@philly.com.

Esther Lee Philly.com
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