• Sat, Jun 30 2012

New Book Says Sheryl Sandberg Put A Stop To Facebook’s ‘Frat Boy’ Culture

Facebook’s 51st employee, and one of its very first females, is opening up about her experience with the social media giant. Katherine Losse, who joined the company in 2005 as a customer service rep and ended in 2010 as CEO Mark Zuckerberg‘s speech writer, just released the book, The Boy Kings: A Journey into the Heart of the Social NetworkThe Boy Kings: A Journey into the Heart of the Social Network. In it, not only does she call out the young founders’ immaturity, she lets everyone know who cleaned the company up: Sheryl Sandberg.

By now, everyone knows the story of Zuckerberg’s famous, “I’m CEO, Bitch” business cards. But that wasn’t the only bit of questionable decision-making at the social network. According the Losse, the office was decorated like a boy’s college dorm room, with pictures of genetically-gifted women in various states of undress. (Or maybe women with gifted plastic surgeons.) That alone would be enough to make any female who was actually expected to work there uncomfortable.

Obviously, these successful young men had a hard time leaving their college days behind them. Aside from the decor, Losse had other examples of the “frat boy” culture. There was a “Judgebox” feature that was created to work much like the infamous original Facemash, where men could rate women’s profile pictures. There was the time a male employee told his co-worker that he wanted to “put [his] teeth in [her] ass.” And then there was the bizarre demand that female employees wear shirts with Zuckerberg’s face on them, “to essentially declare their allegiance to him.”

Enter the savior of all things professional and good in the world, Sheryl Sandberg. According to Losse, when Sandberg came to the company in 2008, she immediately chose to “clean house.” All that misogynistic nonsense was put to rest and Facebook entered the world of responsible corporate culture.

Is it possible that Losse was really trying to write The Social Network II? This sounds like a movie plot right? The immature little boys have a big product but more responsibility than they can handle. The hardass working lady comes in to snap everybody in to shape. There’s some anger and tension, probably culminating in Sandberg and Zuckerberg having a blow-out in front of a whole lot of people. Then they each have sad montages full of regret. They make up and their company goes on to take over the world.

You’re all imagining it right now aren’t you? Should I start advanced ticket sales? We could work on casting Sheryl Sandberg. Let’s do that in comments. I’d love to hear your suggestions.

As for Losse and her book, I wish her the best of luck deciding which studio to sell it to.

(Photo: 1000 Words/Shutterstock)

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  • Lastango

    Like you I’m suspicious of pat, too-good-to-be-true stories. You make an excellent point about the movie-friendly format. That the whole thing could be neatly wrapped up in 90 minutes on the Big Screen is doubly concerning.

    One thing for sure: whoever plays Sandberg is going to be a whole lot better looking than she is. For the audience to be interested in her from the get-go, she can’t look like an Ordinary Person. In fact, the more she presents like the “misogynistic” pictures around the office, the better for ticket sales.

    The structure might present a hitch, though. There’s no romantic spark between Zuckerberg and Sandberg, and the audience’s likely interest in having a feeling they’re sort of watching how history unfolded may prevent the moviemakers from creating a fictional world out of whole cloth. That means the movie has to be about Zuckerberg.

    So, how to play this? Perhaps the scriptwriters can invent some friction between Zuckerberg and his wife-to-be that mirrors the (reportedly) atmospheric mess at Facebook. By straightening up Zuckerberg at work, Sandberg saves not only the company by also Zuckerberg’s relationship. He gets a personal future, and the company soars to the heights. Sandberg is a superwoman in the conventional au courant sense: beautiful, brilliant, powerful, and deeply caring.

    For that bittersweet tinge and the sense of hope, Sandberg’s own personal life will be part of what awakened her strong desire to save Zuckerberg from himself. At the end, a close guy-friend with whom she has been discussing this all along (how else are we to know what she’s thinking? Movies don’t do deep character development) discovers by this how amazing she truly is while still being vulnerable in a deeply meaningful feminine way, and we know by the way he starts looking at her that her private life is going to be as wonderful as her stellar career.

    Is that a chick flick? You bet. So, how to con the guys into going to see it (other than being dragged there by their womenfolk)? Well, the moviemakers could geek it up a bit but then the main target audience would tune out. Maybe they could work cool video game scenes into the mix somehow. That way, the trailers could reassure ticket-buying boy-men that they’ll get their guns-and-action fix. Over the course of the movie, the games migrate from showing hot women, cars, and fights, over to empire-building that requires more mature, long-range thinking. Still guy-stuff, but showing how guys can have their games and still become what today’s oh-so-complete women want them to be.

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