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The new new Mark Zuckerberg

The new new Mark Zuckerberg

Good morning! This Monday, Zuck has a new attitude, Meng Wanzhou was released from being detained after three years, and Elon Musk thinks the chip shortage is a "short-term" problem.

Also, check out our latest manual, which has stories, interviews and ideas all on a single topic: How to build a more inclusive workplace.

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The Big Story

No Zucks left to give

Mark Zuckerberg has tried many approaches to life as a public figure. He's tried to be relatable, meeting people all over America as if he were running for president. He's been apologetic, contrite, visionary, apologetic again, and seemingly everything he can think of to seem more human than robotic.

Now, Zuckerberg seems to just be … over it. After years of trying to be liked, and then trying to be understood, he's embraced just doing what he wants.

  • Zuckerberg posted a jokey response to a recent New York Times story about yet another Facebook scandal, ironically about the company's attempts to defend and improve its image.
  • "Look, it's one thing for the media to say false things about my work," he wrote, "but it's crossing the line to say I'm riding an electric surfboard when that video clearly shows a hydrofoil that I'm pumping with my own legs."
  • A commenter asked why Zuckerberg had been "super laid back and funny the last few months," and Zuckerberg's response was fascinating. "I just decided to focus more on some of the awesome things we're building," he wrote, "and doing more fun things with my family and friends."

Zuckerberg's change is a deliberate one. A Facebook initiative called Project Amplify has reportedly sought to distance Zuckerberg from Facebook's scandals, the Times reported, many of which involve decisions that Zuckerberg himself made.

  • Zuckerberg has ceded crisis responses to people like Sheryl Sandberg and Guy Rosen, while spending most of his time promoting new products and big visions. Now that Andrew Bosworth is Facebook's CTO, Boz is also likely to be a front-and-center Facebook spokesperson.
  • And Facebook's increased metaverse focus is similarly strategic, per a recent Washington Post story. It's a play in part to reset the way Washington sees the company, away from "ruining democracy" and toward "inventing the future." And Facebook wants to help set the rules for that future.

It's not quite an Elon Musk-level heel turn, though. He's not picking fights with regulators or rivals, he's not promoting joke cryptocurrencies, and if he's subtly auditioning to host "SNL," well, it's maybe a bit too subtle.

  • The only consistent target of Zuckerberg's scorn so far? The media. "I have a lot of empathy for what you're describing," he said to a user commenting about fake news and overzealous Facebook fact-checkers. "I don't normally point out everything the media gets wrong, but it happens every single day."
  • One thing Zuckerberg does seem to have learned from Musk: to stop apologizing and just keep moving forward. His focus, at least publicly, is squarely on the possibilities for Facebook as a purveyor of the metaverse. (There's also been a surprising uptick in fencing content, but that seems less professionally relevant.)

This approach will always earn both fans and critics, and Zuckerberg obviously has plenty of both. Whether it's a maintainable strategy in the long run, of course, is an entirely different question.

  • Musk's run of asking neither permission nor forgiveness has led SpaceX, Tesla and Musk himself on a remarkable run of success — but regulators are circling and the competition is catching up fast.
  • Zuckerberg can studiously ignore the problems swirling around Facebook, but that doesn't make them go away. And with The Wall Street Journal's Facebook Files continuing to ricochet around Congress, the tech industry and even Facebook's Oversight Board, Zuckerberg's attitude could be perceived as more like sticking his head in the sand.

But honestly, it's surprising we don't see more of this. It may require a thick skin and a near-endless supply of cool announcements and funny diversions, but this approach has given Musk something like carte blanche to do and say whatever he wants because he's always a step ahead of the repercussions. Zuckerberg won't be the last to learn from that.

— David Pierce (email | twitter)

A MESSAGE FROM PHILIP MORRIS INTERNATIONAL

By scrutinizing facts and including all voices, we can achieve public consensus faster and take well-informed collective action against the many challenges our world is facing. Embracing facts, new technologies, and science is our shared responsibility and the least we can do to drive positive change for the world.

Learn more

People Are Talking

Facebook head of research Pratiti Raychoudhury disputed the WSJ's story about Facebook knowing Instagram is harmful for teen girls:

  • "It is simply not accurate that this research demonstrates Instagram is 'toxic' for teen girls."

Elon Musk thinks the chip shortage won't last much longer:

  • "There's a lot of chip fabrication plants that are being built, and I think we will have good capacity by next year."

A few former Justice Department antitrust chiefs are rooting for Jonathan Kanter:

  • "He knows the substance of antitrust. He appreciates its importance to the American consumer. He is a smart and articulate advocate."

Europe will get more influence through the U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council, European Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis thinks:

  • "There is real strategic and geopolitical importance to this new platform as a way in setting standards and rules for the 21st century."

Coming this week

Code 2021 begins today. There are some big-name speakers this year, including Elon Musk, Gary Gensler and Marc Benioff.

Amazon's fall hardware event is tomorrow. There aren't a lot of details about it really, except that it'll cover the company's latest "devices, features and services."

Amazon's New World drops tomorrow. The video game's release has been delayed a few times since last year, and everyone's hoping the company will finally get a game right.

DevOps World 2021 starts tomorrow. Steve Wozniak is the keynote speaker of this year's software delivery conference.

The first U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council meeting takes place Wednesday. Top officials will meet in Pittsburgh.

Facebook's Antigone Davis will testify before the Senate on Thursday. The hearing is called "Protecting Kids Online: Facebook, Instagram, and Mental Health Harms."

For more upcoming events, check out Protocol's tech calendar.

In Other News

  • Theranos cared more about PR and fundraising than patients, former lab director Adam Rosendorff testified. He was concerned about the company's tests, and took those worries to Elizabeth Holmes herself, but was told to vouch for the tests anyway.
  • Google will take a big pay cut on its cloud marketplace sales. The company is reportedly dropping its percentage revenue share from 20% to 3%, the same as Microsoft takes for third-party software purchases through cloud marketplaces.
  • Huawei exec Meng Wanzhou returned to China this weekend, three years after she was detained in Canada on charges of violating U.S. trade sanctions on Iran. The Justice Department reached a deal to defer her prosecution charges to next year.
  • On Protocol | Workplace: Corporate America wants more diversity professionals. Companies didn't show much interest in diversity at the start of the pandemic, but that trend turned around dramatically as calls for racial justice surged nationwide.
  • Tesla's "Full Self-Driving" program is open to more customers, even after transportation officials raised concerns about it. Customers can tap a "request" button on their dashboard screen, but Tesla will give them a "safety score" based on their driving which must remain high enough before they're granted access to the program.
  • Online learning startup Udemy is reportedly preparing to file for an IPO that could value the company between $6 billion and $8 billion.

One More Thing

Slack's answer to video chat

Some meetings can be an email. But sometimes an email makes more sense if you can share your screen. That's where Slack's new feature, called clips, comes in.

Clips allows you to record video messages, which can be sent in either public or private Slack channels or through DMs. Videos can be sent with screen recordings and they include live captions and searchable transcripts. Once your video message is sent, your co-worker can reply however they'd like: text, audio, a video message or an emoji. Great, yet another option to choose from!

A MESSAGE FROM PHILIP MORRIS INTERNATIONAL

By scrutinizing facts and including all voices, we can achieve public consensus faster and take well-informed collective action against the many challenges our world is facing. Embracing facts, new technologies, and science is our shared responsibility and the least we can do to drive positive change for the world.

Learn more

Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to sourcecode@protocol.com, or our tips line, tips@protocol.com. Enjoy your day, see you tomorrow.

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