The last couple of days have seen a wonderful contrast in approaches to the media. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer have both appeared at the D8 conference and been interviewed by Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg.
By all accounts, Mark Zuckerberg botched his interview by being evasive on answering key questions about privacy, and personal data. He squirms in his seat, gives non-answers to Mossberg’s questions, and at one point creates a sideshow by removing his hoodie. Mossberg, polite but undeterred, pushes on.
Steve Ballmer, with the benefit of more than 30 years of answering tough questions for the press, portrays himself as humble about Microsoft’s number 5 position in smartphones, optimistic that the company is the first in a long time to gain share on Google in search, and “confused” about Google’s strategy for operating systems.
Zuckerberg, unfortunately, was inarticulate and unprepared. Ballmer peppered his comments with facts about share, usage, and demographics, which lent weight and credibility to his statements.
While I won’t go as far as Shel Israel in suggesting that Mark resign as CEO of Facebook, it’s clear that he needs some media training. It’s perhaps arrogant to be unprepared for an interview with the sycophants in Silicon Valley, and clearly foolish to be unprepared for Walt and Kara.