Zuckerberg: Bill Gates Was My Hero
Mark Zuckerberg takes the stage at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference.
During AOL's TechCrunch Disrupt conference on Wednesday, Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said during an interview that Bill Gates was his hero when growing up. The news shouldn't be surprising given Zuckerberg's similar drive in building a mission-propelled company. Both set out to create user-friendly software for every desktop and device that is now used globally by millions.
After hearing the comment, Michael Arrington, who was on stage interviewing Zuckerberg, said that Gates is more like Darth Vader, not Luke Skywalker. "He's the bad guy," Arrington said.
Zuckerberg disagreed. "No, he is not," he said. "Bill Gates ran one of the most mission-driven companies I can think of. Microsoft had a great mission. To put a computer on every desktop and in every home. There are companies that define themselves by their way of doing things, like the HP Way, and there are companies that define themselves by making a concrete change in the world. Microsoft did that. It was an incredibly inspiring company."
"[Bill Gates] is one of the greatest visionaries that our industry has ever had," Zuckerberg added.
Although Gates was no longer running the company at the time, Facebook sold a 1.6 percent stake to Microsoft in 2007. Zuckerberg was also reportedly one of the first 17 billionaires to participate in Bill Gates' Giving Pledge, a campaign that encourages the wealthiest people in the world to give most of their wealth to philanthropic causes. Carl Icahn, George Lucas, Michael Bloomberg and Larry Ellison are just a few among a huge number committed to the cause.
Zuckerberg also said during the interview that Facebook's IPO made the company stronger even though the offering had a rough start. "I'm the person you'd want to ask last how to make a smooth IPO," he mused. "I don't think it's that bad. I actually think it's made our company a lot stronger. In retrospect I was too afraid of going public."
He also said that the government "blew it" in regards to privacy and the whole NSA drama. "The morning after this started breaking, a bunch of people were asking them what they thought," Zuckerberg said. "[They said] don't worry, we're not spying on any Americans. Wonderful, that's really helpful for companies trying to work with people around the world. Thanks for going out there and being clear. I think that was really bad."
Facebook released its first global governments request report in August, revealing that government agents in 74 countries demanded information on around 38,000 users in the first six months of 2013. Nearly half of the demands originated from the U.S. government, which made between 11,000 to 12,000 requests on between 20,000 to 21,000 individuals. Approximately 79 percent of those requests produced some user data.