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Zuckerbergs Hoodie Stirs Controversy on Wall Street – They Just Don’t Get It…

Some on Wall Street were up in arms recently as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wore his signature hoodie to meet with potential investors on the verge of Facebook’s initial public offering. Others rushed to defend the young CEO, going so far as to point out that he likely does not — and should not — give a damn about what people on Wall Street think. Wall Street, of course, is known for high-end business wear, not the casual day-to-day wear of many tech companies.

This is remeniscent of a post by David Dejewski, “Un-Dressing for Success.” What I got from the read is that work ethic and care for the task at hand matter a whole lot more than what big-name clothing someone is hiding under. I work here at GovLoop and at a high-tech company, Graphene Laboratories. In both environments I feel like what has mattered wasn’t whether or not I was dressed to impress, but that I was ready to roll up my sleeves and get cranking on whatever new projects come up.

Nobody ever dared ask the late Steve Jobs to wear a suit. And when they did, it didn’t turn out well. Both Jobs and Zuckerberg are entrepreneurs — people who usually have to pave their own way. These two individuals aren’t always good at playing by the rules of others, with Zuckerberg having met with investors in the early days of Facebook late and in pajamas. Though Zuckerberg now regrets the incident, his willingness to do things his own way has lead to the success of Facebook, and there’s no shame in that.

So why would anyone whose end goal is a high ROI from an investment in Facebook be interested in what Zuckerberg is wearing? Does this signal that Wall Street doesn’t understand the tech industry? If Zuckerberg’s hoodie was part of the secret sauce that made Facebook a success with a near $100 billion valuation for its IPO, then live and let live.

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Tim Howell

100% agree. People act more like themselves when they dress in what makes them comfortable. I have met retirees that worked in a “dress to impress” job all their lives and they still continue to wear tucked in polo shirts and slacks when hanging around the house. Those same people are the ones that are bitter and grumpy about… well everything.

One of the main reasons I live and work where I do is because of the relaxed environment. We actually have a city ordinance against wearing ties. If the mayor sees you he will cut it off 🙂

Anyway, Zuckerberg is truly an inspirational CEO and I hope he continues to NOT fit the mold of a typical businessman. Maybe one day the rest of us will catch on.

Corey McCarren

I think people should always try to be as presentable as possible, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they need to be dressed uncomfortably. There’s definitely a line there. I like wearing ties, etc some days, just not all days!

Peter Sperry

There is a difference between dressing comfortably and dressing in a way that says “You need me more than I need you so you will just have to live with the disrespect I am demonstrating by dressing like a slob.” Zuckerberg’s attitude from the beginning of Facebook has consistently demonstrated his distain for anyone but himself. It will be interesting to see how that holds up as advertisers realize the visibility they think they are generating on Facebook is not translating in to increased revenues. As ad revenue starts to fall, Facebook will need to look to some sort of subscription model. And lets face it, while the platform is a fun way to communicate with friends, I doubt many of us would pay HBO like fees to maintain an account. At that point Zuckerberg will have a whole lot less leverage with investors. I suspect he will show up for the meeting in a suit.

Dannielle Blumenthal

Two cents. Zuckerberg is a master of personal branding. The hoodie is calculated.

It occurs to me that he never wanted to sell out and now he is, probably knowing the company is overvalued. I would not be surprised if he cashes out and starts a new one (mobile phone oriented), then says FB is old news.

Corey McCarren

About the branding – exactly, Danielle. Hence my relating it to Steve Jobs. It’s the same concept as the turtleneck.

Peter – Do you have any numbers regarding ROI for Facebook advertisements? It’s something I’m personally interested in. I could see it working both ways.

Peter Sperry

@ Danielle — I agree the hoodie is a calcualted part of his branding, as is the story on Linkedin about how he is good at firing people and the various stories about getting paid by a contractor to develop the code that became facebook etc. He is definately building an “I am the alpha bull and can do what I want” brand and doing so intentionally. I am jsut not sure it is an attractive brand or one that will serve him well down the road.

@Corey — Ad ROI for Facebook would of course be proprietary but I have seen articles on my Twitter feed from several sources about how advertisers are less than thrilled with results so far. It is a problem they are finding with social media across the board. The platform is definately helping them build visability but visability does not pay the bills. Traditional search seems to be more effective. I know that when I am looking to actually spend money, the first place go is to either a service specific search engine (Kayak, Matrix, Travel Zoo etc) or to Google. Why would I go to Facebook to buy something? That is where I go to see what my parents, siblings, cousins and freinds are doing.

Corey McCarren

If visibility is equating to sales then I think Zuckerbergs personal brand is fine. However, if it isn’t, then as you point out he could be headed for trouble. The CEO’s people fawn over, for better or for worse, tend to be the “Alpha Bulls.”


Clothes are really not very important. We make too much of this. Hoodies are linked to texas holdem poker tournaments. Would not be surprised to learn that he plays.