Zuckerberg Donates $100 Million To Newark Public Schools; Facebook PR Kicks Into High Gear
As the October 1 release date approaches for The Social Network, the so-called "Facebook movie," Facebook has kicked its public relations into high gear. On Wednesday evening, they launched a pro-Mark Zuckerberg blitz, beginning with announcing his $100 million personal donation to the Newark, New Jersey public school system.
Zuckerberg, Facebook's 26-year-old founder and CEO, has been under fire for much of 2010 for his apparent careless and ruthless attitude towards privacy concerns of Facebook users. Recent reports have indicated that The Social Network--the new film about the founding of the world's largest social network--does not portray Zuckerberg in a particularly positive light.
This news also comes on the heels of Forbes' announcement that Zuckerberg is now ranked #35 on the Forbes 400 list of the world's richest people, at a net worth of about $6.9 billion. That puts him even higher than Apple CEO Steve Jobs.
The article also includes an interesting bit of news about Facebook's valuation--now triple that of what it was estimated to be worth in 2009, now at about $23 billion.
With all this not-so-great news for Facebook, it makes sense that Zuckerberg's $100 million contribution to Newark public schools will be formally announced by Zuckerberg himself on Friday on The Oprah Winfrey Show, accompanied by Newark Mayor Cory Booker and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Newark public schools are some of the lowest-performing public schools in the nation, and the largest system in the state of New Jersey.
While the contribution is no doubt generous and badly needed, it's timing is clearly suspect as little more than an expensive public relations stunt. It's just enough to dominate headlines throughout the weekend, and maybe ensure that people at least enter the theater next week with one or two positive thoughts about the controversial young CEO.