Yes, it seems like Zuckerberg has led a charmed life — but it was skill, not luck, that has gotten him this far. For such a young leader, he has made some critical decisions along the way, and shown a number of qualities other startup leaders should have.
I recently talked to a variety of tech CEOs, who shared their stories about the lessons they’ve learned from Zuckerberg:
Rick Marini, CEO and founder, BranchOut:
“I’ve been incredibly impressed with Mark Zuckerberg’s vision since Facebook’s early days. He saw something that no one else saw and he built it. But it’s not just about vision, it’s about execution. Mark proved that he could execute on his vision to create an amazing product and engaging user experience. He’s pioneered a product and platform that no one else could have achieved in a very short period of time.
I think a lot of people doubted Mark’s vision early on because he was young, but he proved the critics wrong. Despite scrutiny by the press, a movie about his company, and critique from the financial community surrounding the IPO, he’s done a phenomenal job of focusing on what he does best. He’s made very few missteps on a quick path to building a $100 billion company and he’s done so by hiring smart and capable people around him to handle other tasks. We’ve seen this in the IPO process, where Sheryl Sandberg and other high-level executives have owned their areas of expertise while Mark continues to focus on the vision for Facebook.
“I think Mark is on the path to becoming the next Steve Jobs or Bill Gates in the way he will change the world with Facebook. Facebook has changed countless lives by making the world a closer, more connected place — and they’re just getting started. Given Mark’s vision and ability to execute over the last eight years, I’m truly excited for what lies ahead. I’m in Facebook’s office almost every week, and I’m continuously blown away by the company’s speed of innovation and long-term vision for the future. BranchOut is proud to be one of the largest Facebook apps and we’re looking forward to a long future with Facebook as our key partner.”
Shayan Zadeh, co-founder and co-CEO, Zoosk
“While a lot of CEOs let their egos get in the way of making the right decisions for the company, Mark Zuckerberg has been objective and able to brush off what the public thinks about him. He has also been smart and lucky about who he has chosen to surround himself with, like Sean Parker, Peter Thiel and Marc Andreessen.”
Mike La Rotonda, CEO and co-founder, Votigo
“Hiring Sheryl Sandberg and David Ebersman were smart moves on Mark’s part. It shows he knows what his strengths are and what they’re not.
“Mark also invested in creating and fostering a vibrant developer ecosystem with a rich set of APIs. This has allowed Facebook to get better for users and brands while alleviating some of the pressure to innovate from Facebook.
“Finally, one of the hardest things to do as a creator is to know when something isn’t working and when to pull the plug. Facebook has done this on numerous occasions, like it did with Facebook Places.”
Jeff Maling, CEO, Roundarch Isobar
“Lost in the conversation about what Mark Zuckerberg wore on the road show is the fact that he has proven himself a very competent manager and CEO. He can be incredibly strategic and his patience in monetizing Facebook is probably the best example of this. He has a deep understanding of the details of the business. While this is often derided as micromanagement, two notorious “micromanagers” like Apple‘s (NASDAQ:AAPL) Steve Jobs and Microsoft‘s (NASDAQ:MSFT) Bill Gates, seem to have done well enough.
Damon Schechter, CEO, Shipwire
“I most admire Zuckerberg for his tremendous leadership. This is a man who now owns two board seats and negotiated the deal with Instagram on his own accord. Even in the midst of events such as GM cancelling their advertising campaign, Zuckerberg is not going to break a sweat over it. Why? Because he sees the bigger picture. He is not what I would describe as a vocal leader, rather, he leads by example. His employees respect and ultimately have confidence in his decisions because they recognize he had the insight to create a concept with a ‘stickiness factor’: he understood that its human nature to want to be part of a larger social network — and now he is going to make the appropriate leadership decisions to monetize it.”
Tom Taulli runs the InvestorPlace blog IPO Playbook, a site dedicated to the hottest news and rumors about initial public offerings. He also is the author of “The Complete M&A Handbook”, “All About Short Selling” and “All About Commodities.” Follow him on Twitter at @ttaulli or reach him via email. As of this writing, he did not own a position in any of the aforementioned securities.