How Many Friends does $100M Dollars Buy Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg?
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is scheduled to appear on Oprah to announce his $100M dollar gift to the Newark public school system the same day The Social Network premieres in New York City. This carefully orchestrated campaign to counter the unflattering portrayal of the Facebook founder in The Social Network features Zuckerberg, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and Newark Mayor Cory Booker.
Mayor Cory Booker is a long time friend of Oprah Winfrey and first appeared on the Oprah show in 2006. Oprah's magazine recently dubbed Cory Booker the “Greatest Mayor in America.” However, Zuckerberg appears to have had no ties to the Newark community, Mayor Cory Booker, or Oprah Winfrey prior to the donation discussion. I frequently visit Newark for business and can confirm that Cory Booker has done a remarkable job revitalizing the city. While Newark public schools certainly need the money and will benefit from a cash influx and new school system management, when was the last time a donor made a nine figure donation without personal ties to a community or any individual? This is also the first public or significant charitable gift billionaire Mark Zuckerberg has made to any organization.
I am anxious to hear Zuckerberg explain why he chose to donate $100M to Newark, NJ public schools instead of to other equally needy, but less connected municipalities and charitable organizations. Consider the question: could the Zuckerberg donation be designed primarily to benefit from the Booker/Oprah relationship in an effort to receive the Oprah Effect? When Oprah recommends a book it becomes a best seller; when she features a product, sales skyrocket. The people featured on her show regularly leverage their Oprah appearance into a national media blitz resulting in national headlines and subsequent appearances on national morning and late night television shows. The Oprah effect has the potential to completely counter the negative depiction of Zuckerberg in The Social Network.
So how many friends does $100M dollars buy Mark Zuckerberg? $100M buys Zuckerberg featured coverage on Oprah reaching 44 million loyal and responsive viewers. In other words, the "Oprah" effect on national media — priceless.