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Ep. 50: The Social NetworkReporters' Roundtable The movie about the founding of Facebook has been nearly universally admired, yet you're hard-pressed, when watching it, to actually like any of the characters. Is this the way Facebook actually is? Guests Caroline McCarthy (CNET)...
-- and don't. Hi everyone welcome to reporters roundtable our podcast on a single tech topical week. And this week that topic is the social network the movie. About the founding of FaceBook. Against the -- this movie is the union nearly universally admired got a nine -- an approval rating on the tomato meter rotten tomatoes. But is -- accurate not just the facts but spirit and the ethics of the ethos of entrepreneurship in general and FaceBook in particular. This -- related topics -- what we're going to be discussing today -- two great guests to get into with. First from CNET news in our social in our New York office Caroline McCarthy. Author of our blog about social networking called social Caroline wrote a great review of this movie called social network weaves a complex web Carolyn thanks for joining us. Thank you very much and from techcrunch. In San Francisco -- -- Who if I pronounced that right. -- Also covers FaceBook for that site. And wrote a another great review called the social network and the rise of the terror nerd I just love that title -- thank you so much for making a time -- -- so let's get into this we -- about thirty minutes first of all. I think experts say you guys are both part of this. Of a younger generation and I the FaceBook generation what did we think about this movie as a movie and as a reflection of kind of the FaceBook culture. -- -- go to you first. -- So I think -- as. I as a representation of our our generation I know that summer views have sad. That this is like and and these are kind of -- I think exclusively hit three news outlets that we're like. -- this is this is young people as told by old people but looking at it and looking at how. Over the course of the movie especially after FaceBook is -- and how -- how the characters eight major characters my connectors background extras whenever how to interact essentially get. I thought was was actually pretty. Spot on and and that the assessment of like this is a world where for the first time we all. All are almost all of us have a public persona. And that it's put out there for for either for interpretation -- from -- interpretation. An and I think that that is is really bolster by the fact you out by. What you have multiple sort of -- you up multiple court scenes in the movies from different trials different retelling this. Different characters in a different things happened and then -- it all you have this narrative of the founding of FaceBook and it's like. Well you know how accurate isn't how accurate does -- have to be because this is. This is this is like a voyeuristic retelling on almost. -- period is from David interest -- -- them. So I think that that's that's really -- -- edited didn't speak him. Well I think I think Caroline and kind of Madonna and her new that this is based in this is basically -- creation. Right this is based integration this is the closest we've got the mythology. And not in our generation because. It's very -- to aid to create like. It longhorn -- birds are symbolic narrated with the quick -- of information that if you are in general Y. Wednesday it would electing -- -- higher than the older partisan yeah we're definitely deal aren't. Yeah our brain our brains don't function in kind of a law or paying -- -- -- -- and -- that. But so if you're gonna have if you're gonna have any kind. Unifying story it better be about the platform that. Has created this situation of late king of an update then it and short -- lake. Yes -- -- are -- stories are told in space that that is so. Having them. I think it's that they attempt by -- insurance -- -- like an older generation to kind of interpret what our status updates generation. Is doing let's -- big banner. Ads that are. Chance. At defining -- there. The -- -- definite idea of the new world what you know it's interesting that some people are calling this a creation myth and even in at the end of the movie. By the way for those you're watching this show spoiler alert just. Go see the film if you haven't. We're not going over the plot in great detail in this but we are going to be talking about this film there will be spoilers. Be -- so eight eaten even at the end of the movie they talk about every creation myth needs a double or bill and I forgot what they said. And this really is I I think in many ways a creation because it is a new world that we -- living in now before FaceBook and social networking which there were social networks and. And update right -- an early -- -- in rarely seen Zuckerberg is using live journal yes I think that's that's kind of an interesting throwback to the the the pre creations -- but. There is the -- before. Where it was where we -- our lives. -- in -- the physical world to an extent and there at the world now where so much of our our of our. Our interaction is. Computer mediated. Even more so than once before and FaceBook -- it was that creation so. The thing in the movie is says that at. Every every creation that needs a villain. In this movie we have a lot of villains but I find this movie during thing because there seemed to be no sympathetic character now what -- you think about that were there any. -- -- we rooting for in this movie and why does this movie work when it appears to me that there's nobody they were actually. We'd like. Well this is interesting I thought because on. When I read the script I read the script about a year before the move became an have to I'll have to look back at the script maintained to see exactly anything changed -- by one thing that struck me when I side the movie. Was that Eduardo Severin was a much more sympathetic character than I had thought he -- like and I wonder if that was just like. The lines that seems sort of you know it's and Arlene vindictive in my way or the highway that the -- written now facing a lot more forceful than when they were spoken by you know like wide eyed puppy face adorable -- -- Garfield. So I I don't know -- that was just a matter after they -- or if they specifically. Made an effort to make him more sympathetic because in in the script that I read he came across as sort of and any does come across as -- in the movie but it in a much more sort of tragic hero sends them you know I'm obsessed -- -- the old order and with being part of that tragic perhaps but I wouldn't say that he does anything necessarily -- in the film. -- now he doesn't now. Oh yeah when he called -- -- parker when everybody likes standing next to you because it makes me -- grave right. Yeah and that and mostly I -- -- the most pivotal heroic moment and yet I I do think that I read the script also going entering came -- -- the way more whiny and. Yet he came across as -- really -- in in. Them so. Is this the way that the gen Y socially connect the world works where basically everybody's a jerk or are -- are people. How do you become likable when -- building something the state. You don't like you to go likable after you build it I mean this is this is a lot give belly and story here it's like. You do whatever it it's -- Silicon Valley. -- and sometimes you do whatever it's okay. Might marking -- within that is is that I'd tried every -- featured in the back. -- -- -- -- the ability of products and then. Once a bunch of people like it and you don't care about the people -- -- think -- jerk I mean this is every huge calendar are almost every successful hundred. Now one of the things about this film it that I that did not resonate. With me was -- trying to figure out as I was watching the social network what drives -- drove. Mark Zuckerberg to build this out and in the movie. It seems like he is just desperate for -- recognition in. The established social order and trying to be part of the final clubs. Is that what drives him -- -- -- is a difference between what will we know of Zuckerberg what really drives them and what. Apparently tried some in the movie is -- revenge is that money is it to create something it is it. To get -- I mean what is driving Zuckerberg in the real world to make this thing. I think it means it did that that is one of the things that is -- was the most sort of unfortunately inaccurate things about the movie -- -- -- it was very well done but it's simply isn't true that in a big getting into the final clubs and being part of the of the order I I do not think -- Remotely close to what Mark Zuckerberg was thinking and I think he's one of those people who has those mines where he's just like. He he sees ways in which things can be connect it. And and he wants to be the person who makes -- connections he sort of wants to be like. I like a latter day wizard -- you know what I mean I'm making things happen where they could happen but they don't happen and I think that. And this was some. It did the -- that motivation is a difficult to play on screen. And be. It -- it also you adapt to bring in a whole lot more back story about the fact that. There were hurt students on every campus in the northeast and and probably the rest of the country but I I was in school and -- -- at the time. Building these online Facebook's because their schools were all doing it in their schools what were all for the most part doing terrible job of baton and so this sort of been. Someone like Mark Zuckerberg would have had like. Probably. Two to three years exposure. -- of these sorts of the student directories going on line. I mean Friendster -- around live journal have been around. I so I think it was a matter of him seeing where nothing had gotten it right before and him believing that he could be the ones do -- -- -- -- -- -- -- Iranian manifest destiny of product vision I mean there's a quoted the on the -- A guy who makes any -- doesn't owe money to everyone has ever built in chair and play keys he thought I could make it -- there. The way I can have to do it like being socially accepted I don't think I don't think mature product visionaries really care about being socially accepted. -- may -- in deep down inside but you get it gets the point where you just you -- execute your vision. Let's see something happen. How much of the Harvard. East Coast Ivy League school ethos is part of creating something like FaceBook how much of that gets in your brain and is is in the the creation story -- there. We'll see that's something I could see coming into play and I can see market having comes -- that connection Merom in it in -- the way it that way that it's portrayed the movie is kind of a kind of an over the top -- -- but yes Harvard is a very exclusive school. The social networks that were out there were not something that any Harvard student would want to be part of because they were big and they were open and they were full weirdos using fake names then and so I think anyone would with a little bit of sort of traditional. Old school. So soul. It's sort of with social class consciousness. Would it be would be turned off by what was out there where that would you know dead they kind of like. Net cam girl shops and glitter profiles and and all that I absolutely think -- and so I think that's certainly did come into play. But I think it would have been more so marks awareness of then his desire to be part. I'm asking more about the the ethos in a school like Harvard of build your own future which is part you know and hinted at in the movie. -- this. Did did students like Zuckerberg go to Harvard because they have a vision of creating their own destiny -- Harvard put that in their brains. Well the thing is is that I had I -- you may have been a little different Harvard which -- always been a little more entrepreneurial but I I was I was out another. Small northeast college -- the time we sent I think 40% of our graduating class to Wall Street. -- hello -- and there is -- buried there with a whole. A whole lot of fun it was much more like chase the dollar sign then following year like create your future and I think Harvard was was -- -- earn a place. I mean this is what the movie at what I think the movie is actually an accurate about that. It's in portrait -- does this -- with Blake. Top top class people and -- go to any I don't really know from experience but. A little winkle Abbas twins are our likes it it's called it looked like a golden god hand six I didn't think I mean their -- person but they aren't adapting -- meaning he added that start. Out but it would like -- characters starts the movie. Thank coming like how do you distinguish yourself in a population of individuals and all at 16100 dollar SATs -- I mean it's not I don't think bit. Hot -- -- me that -- got like nerd -- -- -- -- I'll put people here. And I don't think it that was actually making everyone workers -- I'm sure there -- -- yeah there -- That in other Mark Zuckerberg. Working on I agree or you'll end here there's seven other -- that the -- is working on similar projects like connect you -- harbor connector whatever was he was just the one when. -- the most streamlining its. User friendly version that's why -- -- He cracked the code which language French have a question of of -- my question of whatever happened to know one of my favorite parts in movies when. Larry Summers who former I think Treasury Secretary and I'm president Harvard. In it in the movie anyway is talking to the legal office who managed to get an audience with them in their complaining that Zuckerberg has stolen their idea and Summers says but it. I'm paraphrasing here. -- freak and who somebody stole your idea this is Harvard yet another idea get out of my office. I can kinda see that happening at Harvard with a good life lesson but what happened to the -- losses since then without getting back there world -- wanna -- Since. Since FaceBook and and since the movie well what are they up to. Why doesn't I guess so yeah I -- -- I saw a camera camera in Tyler's not affiliated -- -- camera and is that the publisher of this New York nightlife site. Actually has been getting a lot of good press and -- I don't know what actually makes money but I know that we eat and it's a close friend of his who is the editor in chief of the site so I think the idea that -- together and he's pretty hands off there but they just done. They went -- -- 2008 Olympics in Beijing on preteens and anything is the anonymity placed sixth in care. Which is better than most people thought they would do because appears typically not not -- spent much the us a strong. But then. -- then went to Oxford to get -- -- and there. What do you video you've got a 65 million dollar settlement burning now burning on your back on and now you're gonna say I I created a guy. Here's a speculation. About the -- -- tons. I believe that they will found some kind of venture together because obviously they're there in the spotlight now and there's probably. You know that like if it -- come up with something they'll probably get -- the backing and -- exposure so you're saying and in addition. To the money that they now have from their settlement. They also have the media spotlight on them because of the movie so it's actually done immigrate favor they could they could go further and -- start up because people are watching and they have name recognition -- didn't really publicly before. I think so and actually Vanity Fair had a blog post that I made me laugh that was so so when do we get the inevitable -- Abbas reality show -- today. I don't and I do not think they would -- got I mean I've I've met the guys a couple of times I know I know some people who know -- -- and I do not think they would Hillary out and let's say your bets they. Well I mean. I other. -- week about the things that aren't they're not even in Christ and I think that they're gonna being they're not even in crunch -- yeah I did it. I I mean the current -- I'll open up. -- I I don't know if they'd be welcome back -- -- now. And that -- -- today. We we -- fascinated. Reward people in the news. Took a risk and it doesn't seem like they took a risk I think I think it. Anyone is not in the in. Social network in. Legal -- dozens Zuckerberg because it just seems like -- chasing an idea that link that says it you. Wouldn't it if you invented -- that annually in anticipates that it seems like there. Right I thought I was a very resonant line and -- -- worst -- in. Was bounced out of FaceBook in financially and emotionally many ways what with with -- -- him since then -- got -- Huge settlement like use suited to the extent that some people say that. Considering he -- mean he wouldn't move cross country to help build based but he had some of arguably bad ideas for the company some people say that he he got the best deal out of anybody. I know -- key. He -- and an investment in seed round of of at least one -- start -- that I that I was familiar with a couple of years ago but I think and -- pretty low and -- because of the I noted I I I interviewed and metrics the author of the accidental bill leaner but that's -- based on innovating in last year and and and -- -- -- That Eduardo had been his source on the on the -- Intel. Basically. He completely. Cut off communication because of -- of lawyer pressure and and the terms of the settlement that -- -- that was -- on fault with face. Now. There's also one other major character in our world the world of let's start with the Sean Parker that but nothing from Napster. He I actually I interviewed him once -- he he was the -- that for -- aren't. Yeah I -- yeah and youth seemed like your average arrogance start up item so. But what's happened to him has this movie affect what he's been up to this -- he's been -- he stayed active. We are profound Vanity Fair mean like last month. I think like I mean he he co founded causes with geo green button which has been one of the biggest apps on Facebook's platform -- in terms of -- reality. I would not necessarily say it's been one in the most successful all. On in terms of achieving its goals but it certainly is extremely prominent system of apps. I believe he's she still collects these he -- founders fund in some capacity. Yes -- India according AM -- that founders binding heat that cause they in an adviser to the on and on the board of directors -- yeah amber. Yeah not is -- -- suspend him. So area on the bonds a bunch of base. I think you still you still involved in a bunch of styles also. Now there was one venture capitalists. While they had several who -- whose names they use the movie there was one venture capitalist who is intentionally left out are written now. Of the -- -- the book yet talk about that what happened there so who who was it again and and what happened what did he do -- FaceBook in the real world and who did it in the movie. Well as Michael -- -- and sequoia ask him. Yeah. -- -- -- basically he was the one who there were in in the book that uses real name and -- -- -- -- -- case equity or whatever and but there -- that the book had a lot of speculation on behalf of Sean Parker about why. More -- since equated to force on out of Plaxo because they've been -- -- in a lead investor. And I Sean was not even confirmed source on. On the but although let's face it he he totally wise and very obvious by. I think it like that kind. That kind of like well this is what we heard from this guy uses this about this guy. I wonder if it it it that just post so many legal problems the transiting screen meant. That he couldn't as introducing them left to map so he was in the script. -- if you really all it really was written so yeah the script you so he was in so with at you as a last minute change. I think yeah probably has some connections in Hollywood that's my -- and -- guys. They exerted pressure and -- keep -- -- out of that. Fascinating so. We've talked -- about things that were different in the real world and in in the -- we go on and on about. Differences. I -- -- people obviously wouldn't pick what license and movie like this but. Let's talk a bit about the emotional accuracy of this I mean do you feel that this movie about FaceBook and about -- Captures the essence of the founding of minutes or is it just that -- gross simplification of what happens when -- and that this got started. I mean what does that tell Katie Couric then it was -- I wish it was that our way we were just a bunch of people letting writing code paraphrasing and we're just -- -- people writing code and it wasn't really -- glamorous. Mean -- a -- if you watch startups think we're back on and it really is a bunch in the writing code and its its account. Not not that. Meaning wounded drinking game where they hired there in interns -- another glaring inaccuracy. Why we I mean any wouldn't need is. Break into whatever server they're trying to break into -- Work at -- you just need to -- like a social product bad bit. The drinking and that kind of rowdy atmosphere. And why they just don't really frankly I'm hey I know that hey it's good they're really -- play. But I don't think it it at that level I don't think there. Like there's scene where they'd written that we were the groupie net about it I personally don't think that ever happening in Zuckerberg how to study girl pregnant -- on him and she -- that when it. That is -- -- of one of the most interest thing factual changes between the real world and the movie which is Zuckerberg they don't make much of of Zuckerberg. Emotional it is. His girlfriend or lack thereof in the movies it's really not a key part of of the film but in the real world he has and had a girlfriend. And why I've never I don't understand -- all and they spend more time with Eduardo relations and they do with it was not I was wondering why that the movie worked with him being. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- I I wonder if I. If when none. When message was that was writing them but couldn't I -- You know luck. Mark's real girlfriend has a completely private citizen she makes no effort to jump in front of cameras are she she never does interviews none of that she's a civilian she is she is a complete civilian -- do not touch her. Etc. now maybe that was the deal I I I wonder if that kids like that would just be like. First of all that would make -- that would make measured -- -- like really bad for putting a real character and who has has literally. Never asked for attention. I mean she was a teacher and now she's in med school like she's not like. He's not a -- ago. -- -- Let's talk about it. This -- story to have nerds chase after pretty girl that has to be you and then and want. Nerd has relationship with other -- -- relatively stable Internet yeah it does make for -- Hollywood. Now but but the other the other thing is that I think for for a time and he I noted. Mark dated a girl he he's currently dating for awhile on the paper app for a -- then they got back together. So I know that there was some period in their when he was not dating her but I. Predict I don't particularly care about his personal life on that level so I I don't know what that what the real situation wasn't I don't really think that it made for Hollywood material -- Unix in incensed. -- Carolina let's say you both cover entrepreneur or some startups a lot I have is in the past myself quite a lot what do you. Affect you think a movie like physical memorization of starting a company like this through with the with. The all the ups and the downs will have on up -- -- -- hours. Well they say I -- Department. That they -- -- like. -- of that Wall Street. With supposed to be built behind culture and -- Oliver Stone was just horrified when in fact it is made a lot of kids wanna Gandhi but fox wouldn't buy it is that. In an anti anti rabies I would. I would think that that would probably also need a case where you're you're gonna wanna have kids who never would've thought it lined found dot conflict going and money try to find dot com stay. The discrepancy there is that in in the eighties and and up until very recently. They it. It you you could you could kind of be and and I've read and read liars poker which details that's. Very well you could be kind of a total block had and still make a ton of money on Wall Street. You can't do that if your founding -- company you can even do that if your employee number 200 at -- tech company. That would mean you can't do it right why not. It is our. Or you are smart to be creative then you know it's it's -- thing where like maybe you know there might be people trying to -- to this industry on mass but I think it. A lot of them. Bull will soon find that it that it doesn't it it's not. It's not that easy whereas -- in the financial services industry for a while this is one of the reasons we have the market crash button two years ago was it. For a while it it was ridiculously. Easy to get into it and to be successful and it. And you're basically playing a decade now and. Well I'm look at this causes more people to study engineering I mean one of the reasons that I -- and I think it's simply was not cool when I was young. Like not aligning the things that -- -- -- English and and and there's a line and ended -- records and as you know like that. A million dollars of the -- you know it's cool a billion dollars and I think. That kind of entrepreneurial. Ambition. Has now -- been given a major cultural menu like. A Hollywood movie with 23 million dollars in ticket sales last weekend and so it's. Opened up the space for a lot of culture surrounding. The story in the the founder -- in the movie and the founder -- in general like I just I just and video. Mark Zuckerberg rap about. That the social network and the -- I'm Ian bits of and pay. Now that's I now -- That's something that mainstream in in the sense relates yeah there's -- real equivalency between. That on your work burner till mid an entrepreneurial drive and -- like the rap. Game for example so that encourages kids to being ambitious. In in the tax the year -- in the engineering space that would be one or or wave positive. Yeah definitely I think -- for making engineering look sexy -- It definitely will have a positive fact. But I I think they would like you know the you're you're gonna get a lot of people sort of like well I -- be in dot com -- and then but now. That's harder than it -- and most. Does that for those of you. Listening out there. It's harder than it looks and most businesses fail I was I covered when I was writing about this in the first bubble like I did about 1000 columns. Interviewing. Dot com studios and profiling accompanies them. Since then I believe the 990. Of those businesses are now out of business. Well yeah. Which by loyalists dissident to be interviewed by means the other way of looking at it just saying that most of these businesses fail and the -- -- really wanted to militant. What about the effect on the FaceBook staff palace this movie has -- been they have again and this movie third as -- galvanizing influence of any sort. -- a let down or what. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- It was they were in it -- it didn't really get it together. And the effect. -- -- -- -- No -- So what it. Or other concentrating on -- they weren't locked down period. Sixty days are concentrating on rolling out down -- calendar information in groups. Again it's one of those things that. They don't really care that's -- when culture as I didn't always feel locked down unless you're on vacation. No I mean if we had nothing else. Is that kind of a coincidental timing for lockdown. 'cause you know they just rolled out. Groups and downloads and they went into lockdown mode to roll that out but the story goes but they're also. You know the blanket came down over. Over them right after the movie came out. I'm just I just wanted to speculating that anyway. What's next are we gonna see a global movie are there any good other tales out there that can be Hollywood -- -- in such an entertaining way. We will definitely it ballooning that is think that earns money it got option. Yes. And and I mean it in and the thing is is like also the author of the book is like that you know very. Barry established and with with very well connected which Google book is gonna adoption panel let us okay. So -- got option I don't now. I was joking with Tom crap that an -- dislike. They should make it a Stoner comedy because. Google's origins I don't even really think you could beat them that Hollywood rarity in less -- estimated to total parity. Kind of the -- parent of Andy's treatment that like it if you if you just really played up like. You that the fact that they are right on Razor Scooters and that they've got this this donors -- to cater to to cater to Grateful Dead and like you know Matthew McConaughey can play him. But then oh I'm adding something to chat and this product don't make me sit through Steve Jobs movie right some channel bottom pilot based on that the diet Steve Jobs yet all the secret diary would tell me -- -- think they're Steve Jobs are lit up heart of Silicon -- I haven't read the price that it is hard it is hard to make coding exciting on film yeah it -- unique. But there are. -- had -- a couple of like I mean wasn't there like some dot com exactly killed his wife for something like -- something they'll legitimately stick scandalous. -- and and it like some some kind of like -- gone bad story. It editors I spent murders -- So clear. That there have enough. And -- not mention any names that don't wanna be associated -- connect murder with any name -- about to say. -- Thank you if you look at tech mean and you look at killed will be a lot of like Google. Google Buzz accounts winner and then we'll -- actual story about killing. Oh -- them. I listen on that listen I Carolina let's yet thank you very much for your time. For those you haven't seen the movie. I think I'd recommend -- it's it's dated it kind of it's fading in in my. Pleasure centers compared to other movies in both a lot of explosions and stuff and there was interest being I don't know I would recommend people feat especially if you're into tech. Carolina let's give you thumbs up for you guys on the film. Yes and it's Oscar winning it and there's a picture early learning how to predictions -- actions I don't think so. Okay. Here my predictions -- critic I predict it will not get a single acting nominees and -- -- I. It it will look at his actors or the actors just too young I believe it will get nominated for best picture because now they're but they're ten best picture nominees that I've gotten. I believe we'll get nominated for -- actor. Best school our current resonance score with -- is definitely up there. And we'll get nominated for screenplay adaptation I believe the -- that will win will be in -- the united argue with you on that. Have a electronic ink -- tire barrier. -- its beautiful beautiful women -- -- How every every shot -- -- -- -- -- there I think that -- added some really excellent chance of winning sodas are fields. -- definitely I think if -- it nominated it'll be Garfield but the thing is is like. The Oscars are so political and the cast is so young and you look at what other big name actors have been in -- lead and supporting roles this year like. I got. You're you're -- Alec Holland expert George Clooney poke at things that I -- that that the younger the younger cast it it gives -- -- advance. -- right. Well on that thank you for those predictions thank you both -- lets you very much for the time. You can. Get the show notes for this on roundtable of reporters roundtable dot cnet.com you can send an email to me about the show or other that you would like see it roundtable at cnet.com. Follow me and Twitter I'm Rafe are AFP Caroline you are. -- CA RO and Alexia. And LEX I had anorexic. Right on thanks so much and thanks Leo for producing with you guys -- next week by everyone thank you -- thank.