Was beer the secret to Facebook's success?

Scientists at the University of Illinois in Chicago discover that men solve brain teasers better after a couple of beers. Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg was known to give interviews while drinking beer. Coincidence?

A beer billionaire? Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Facebook can sometimes seem infuriating. How did these seemingly a-social people manage to become some of the richest humans on the planet by bringing people together via computers?

It can't merely have been that anyone else trying was less sparky than a damp box of matches. No, not even at MySpace. There had to be something else. That something else might have been beer.

You might think this a leap of logic. However, I have researched this deeply and feel confident that this isn't mere froth. Only this week, scientists at the University of Illinois in Chicago discovered that men who have ingested a couple of brewskis were far better at solving brain teasers than their sober, allegedly clear-headed counterparts.

Indeed, the New York Daily News quoted psychologist Jennifer Wiley as fizzing with this information: "We found at 0.07 blood alcohol, people were worse at working memory tasks, but they were better at creative problem-solving tasks."

As my next evidence, might I point to this interview given by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in 2005, just 21-years-old and newly of legal U.S. drinking age.

It seems clear that, even in these early days of this dominant force, beer was a fuel that drove these young minds along exalted paths. Indeed, he is clearly mindful not to influence children into drinking for success when he asks during the interview: "Should I put my beer down?"

However, during that very same chat, he admitted that Facebook had only 20 employees, one of whom was "someone who orders our kegs." A start-up that dedicates one employee solely to beer-ordering knows something the rest don't. Start-ups like Facebook apparently begin more in the college fraternity than Harvard Business School mold.

My own feeling is that Zuckerberg was experimenting with the results of ordering different types of beer to see whether, for example, Dos Equis really did make him more interesting in his thinking than, say, Coors Light.

Wiley explained it to the Daily News in a more intellectual manner: "We have this assumption, that being able to focus on one part of a problem or having a lot of expertise is better for problem solving. But that's not necessarily true. Innovation may happen when people are not so focused. Sometimes it's good to be distracted."

It's time though, before the glorious IPO proceeds, for Zuckerberg to tell us what he knows about the relationship between his beer and his success. Which beer? What brand? How much? Surely every little boy in the Valley will want to experiment with this obviously tantalizing formula.

 

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