Assessing Mark Zuckerberg's '60 Minutes' Performance

A 'kinder, gentler' Facebook CEO?

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In anticipation of Facebook's latest redesign, CEO Mark Zuckerberg sat down for a 60 Minutes interview with Lesley Stahl last night, his first since the release of The Social Network in September. Stahl previously profiled Zuckerberg for the program in 2008, an interview she says remains memorable due to the young executive's "awkwardness" and reluctance to blink. How did Zuckerberg do this time around? A sampling of opinions from around the Web:

  • Major Improvement  Forbes technology writer Mike Isaac says those tuning in expecting to see fidgety, driven young billionaire depicted by Jesse Eisenberg in The Social Network likely came away disappointed. Far from being unsympathetic, Zuckerberg was "charismatic, open, [and] engaged." What he said in response to Stahl's queries regarding The Social Network, Facebook's legal troubles, and the redesign was less notable, in Isaac's estimation, "than the way Zuckerberg delivered them." His "patient and bright" responses to tough questioning suggests "the so-called 'toddler CEO' is growing up."
  • Human Side  Expectations were admittedly low, acknowledges Vanity Fair's Juli Weiner, but it still counts for something that Zuckerberg "came across as rather lifelike--positively human, even--during the interview." Even Stahl, she notices, seemed "delighted" by the apparent thaw in the "famously chilly billionaire" over the past three years.
  • Underwhelming  Stahl's reluctance to ask any tough questions allowed Zuckerberg to coast, argues Paid Content's Andrew Wallenstein. On those rare occasions she did attempt to pin him down, Zuckerberg--who has clearly "mastered the non-answer"--would respond with a "pat answer that didn't seem evasive but didn't quite tackle the matter at hand, either." As for the change in Zuckerberg's countenance, Wallenstein was similarly unimpressed. "It's almost too dramatic a change," he notes, "as if [Zuckerberg has] had a chip implanted in his brain or replaced himself with a more TV-friendly clone."
  • New Man  New York magazine's Nitasha Tiku suggests Sunday's interview marked the debut of "a kinder, gentler, more genuine Mark Zuckerberg." And while "it's hard to say whether Zuckerberg 2.0 is all a product of superb PR lessons," it is undeniable that his "jovial and confident" manner marked "a 180-degree change from his flop-sweat-drenched performance at the D8 conference just six months ago."