In choosing two excerpts to publish from long-time Fortune reporter David Kirkpatrick’s new book, “The Facebook Effect,” Fortune decided to go for the “Jersey Shore” version, replete with a trashed summer home and puking in the party bus. It’s enough to make a movie starring Justin Timberlake! (There’s actually already one in post-production, but based on a clearly fictionalized version of events from a writer who did not get the kind of access Kirkpatrick did.)
These salacious anecdotes from the early days of Facebook were clearly picked for their shock value, yet they also trace the evolution of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s insouciance to a different kind of arrogance and confidence. In one scene, he punks Sequoia Capital by mock-pitching them a side project in his pajamas; in another, he fails to be swayed by a private jet hired by an MTV (s VIA) exec hoping to impress him.
“You just saw my apartment,” Zuckerberg replied. “I don’t really need any money. And anyway, I don’t think I’m ever going to have an idea this good again.” Viacom would try money nonetheless, with a cash offer of $800 million and provisions that could make it worth as much as $1.5 billion. But like many other suitors, the Viacom executives discovered they were dealing with a formidable character. If his invention’s early appeal was at a freshman level, exploiting the desire of college students to check each other out, his professed ambition was much higher: to change the world.
Kirkpatrick is obviously a true believer in Facebook and was greatly helped by the company for his book. But based on my interactions with him, I’d say he also has a clear-headed understanding of the social network and its implications. I’m sure there will be more than just ziplines and pool parties in the 320-page book, which is due to be released on June 15th.
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