Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Zucking It Up

I'm short on time and don't have a lot to add to the praise for The Social Network, which is a very entertaining movie and one that's more relevant than most. I think it's actually more of a comedy than a drama, a giddy rise-to-the-top with youth and speed, ending on an ironic note that's more up than down.

There are two things about the movie that I do want to highlight. One is that it's the first film I can remember, certainly a major Hollywood film, that gets enough of the start-up and venture capital scene right. The growth of the company from dorm room to dining room to offices is how it works, and while the angel investment scene is much shorter and easier than in real life, the dilution dangers are very real -- preferred shares vs. common shares, etc., even if not the mechanisms are not completely spelled out in the movie.

The other element I found interesting was how director Fincher and screenwriter Sorkin played with our empathy. We see Zuckerberg as a jerk in the beginning and often in his cutting asides to Savarin and others, but we're still rooting for him through most of the movie, especially against old lawyers in the deposition scenes. But the ambiguity is very interesting, including the sense that Savarin screwed himself by not coming to Palo Alto and staying to be CFO. My favorite example of how the movie plays with audience sentiment is in the Larry Summers scene. At first we're laughing along with Summers as he stonewalls the Winklevoss brothers with wit and contempt. But when the twins leave and one accidentally breaks off his doorknob, commenting on having broken a 300 (400?) year old doorknob and tossing it on the secretary's desk, they're the ones getting the big laugh against stuffy olde Harvard.

I do think that Mark Zuckerberg handles himself well in this interview snippet, although I wouldn't be surprised if he had either rehearsed the lines or been coached, or is just repeating something he's been telling a number of friends ever since seeing the movie:

Yep. The geeks shall inherit the earth.

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