Is Mark Zuckerberg the ultimate Jewish mother? It’s starting to look that way. We’re thinking the Jewish mother who makes you eat everything off your plate, because this will somehow improve the conditions of the starving children in India—or Africa, depending on how old you are.
Lev Grossman’s Zuckerberg profile in Time notes an ominous reminder for Facebook employees of the realities of the technology market:
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Because of the limits of space and time, a lot of Silicon Valley companies don’t build new headquarters; they just take over the discarded offices of older firms, like hermit crabs. Facebook’s headquarters used to belong to Sun Microsystems, a onetime power-house of innovation that collapsed and was acquired by Oracle in 2009. When Facebook moved in, Zuckerberg made over the whole place, but he didn’t change the sign out front, he just turned it around and put Facebook on the other side. The old sign remains as a reminder of what happens when you take your eye off the ball.
Then Grossman adds:
As Zuckerberg himself puts it, when you work at a place like Facebook, “it’s easy to not have empathy for what the experience is for the majority of people in the world.” To avoid any possible empathy shortfall, Facebook is engineering empathy artificially. “We re-created with the Ericsson network guys the network conditions that you have in rural India, ” says Javier Olivan, Facebook’s head of growth. “Then we brought in some phones, like very low-end Android, and we invited guys from the Valley here—the eBay guys, the Apple guys. It’s like, Hey, come and test your applications in these conditions! Nothing worked.” It was a revelation: for most of humanity, the Internet is broken. “I force a lot of the guys to use low-end phones now, ” Olivan says. “You need to feel the pain.”
We’re waiting for the third horseman of the Jewish mother trifecta: never go into the water right after eating. If you find out that Facebook employees must wait a full 30 minutes between lunch and their pool time—you’ll know why.