Monday, May 21, 2012

Mark Zuckerberg's amazing weekend

When I saw Mark Zuckerberg got married the day after FaceBook’s IPO earned $20 billion, my first thought was, “And someday those kids are going to be fighting over money.”

And I’m not talking about divorce settlements, although that romantic Trump is.
“They get married and then for some reason over the next couple of years they get divorced and then she sues him for $10 billion and she hits the jackpot,” he told CNBC. “I think if she made $1 million, that would be very good.
A romantic indeed, but only about things that stir the pulses of people proficient in accounting.
I’m talking about whether one is maybe a coupon clipper while the other is extravagant. Many couples agree on the great moral issues of raising children yet spar over whether the breakfast waitress deserves an extra quarter.
Money’s just an evergreen source of conflict with every couple.
A friend of mine forewarned me of this on the eve of my marriage. He said it was absolutely essential my bride and I run all our finances through the same bank account.
“Trust me on this,” he said, “having a joint bank account will eliminate all the arguments about money. It’s one of the things that helps my marriage succeed, that and mutual respect.”
Back then he was utterly sincere.
Fifteen years later, he’s divorced. He busted his wife cheating on him with their kid’s karate instructor and now he sits in the bars and advises singles as to why they should never marry.
Of course, I wisely ignored him. My wife and I have joint accounts for savings, but we have separate accounts for individual spending loot. We argue about big decisions but we arrive at our points through positions of fierce independence.
And it’s worked out well. Through 15 years of marriage we’ve rarely fought over money.
The skeptics will point out we never fight over who gets to drive the Lamborghini either, which is something else we don’t have, so the point may be moot.
But we did nearly have a fight over Facebook this weekend. It’s free so that we have.
Our 11-year-old asked Val to check something on Facebook and said, “I know you’re always on there anyway,” to which she responded indignantly, “Not as much as your father!”
For some reason, them’s fighting words.
Neither of us wants to admit we’re on Facebook more than the other.
Why is that? Has there ever been an institution in which we’ve participated with almost compulsory dedication that as a whole we enjoy less?
I mean besides high school.
I felt good when I learned economists deemed his $106 billion IPO “a disappointment.” It seemed like a healthy development.
And I felt relief, too, that those same honest brokers haven’t taken the time to examine my finances.
I still don’t know what to make of Zuckerberg and Facebook. Of course, my opinion of him is colored by the exaggerations of his portrayal in “The Social Network.” That and, like R2D2, it is said Zuckerberg doesn’t blink.
It’s true. Interviewers and confidants say he spends his waking hours staring like a birddog fixed on a pheasant.
I guess he scares me. He’s got so much money and power earned through something so trivial I feel compelled to resent.
I guess I’m looking forward to his second act, something that will define him better than just a guy with massive brain power who seems oddly incapable of mastering the common Windsor knot.
So of the twin Facebook news bulletins -- the IPO and the wedding -- I believe the surreptitious nuptials will be the more pivotal.
It’ll be up to the new Mrs. Zuckerberg, Priscilla Chan, to use her matrimonial influence on her husband, something she’s already done by convincing him to use Facebook as a force to transform how we donate life-saving organs. Bravo.
She needs to encourage his philanthropy so in 10 years we’ll all think about how wrong we were about Zuckerberg and Facebook.
She’ll need to do it with guile and logic. She’ll need to be persuasive and perseverant.
And she’ll need to understand in matrimonial arguments, it’s not always about who blinks first, especially when it comes to Mr. Z.

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