"I remember wondering, as sweat poured down Mark Zuckerberg's pasty and rounded face, if he was going to keel over right there at my feet."
Back in the Day
Before channeling his anxiety into martial arts and doomsday prepping, Meta-formerly-Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg was a panicked, sweaty mess — and at least one of his employees tried to warn a reporter about it.
In an excerpt from her forthcoming book, as published by New York Magazine, veteran tech journalist Kara Swisher recounted many of her favorite anecdotes and encounters throughout her decades-long career.
One such story involved her now-infamous 2010 interview with a visibly sweaty and much younger Zuckerberg, who apparently was the subject of a discussion she had with a Facebook executive years prior.
"'He has panic attacks when he's doing public speaking,' one Facebook executive had warned me years before," the writer explained. "'He could faint.'"
Indeed, as Swisher described the notorious interview, she was fairly concerned about the young man's well-being.
"I remember," Swisher wrote, "wondering, as sweat poured down Mark Zuckerberg's pasty and rounded face, if he was going to keel over right there at my feet."
Filmed at the All Things Digital conference hosted by the publication of the same name that Swisher founded, Zuckerberg is clearly uncomfortable being grilled about privacy. At one point, Swisher even asks him if he wants to take off his hoodie in a clear effort to help him cool — and calm — down.
"No," Zuckerberg responded, "I never take off the hoodie."
Moving On Up
In the years after that ignominious exchange, Zuckerberg was, as the New York Times reported back in 2018, given literal charm lessons to help him appear less anxious on camera — but that doesn't mean that energy has disappeared.
Instead, the CEO has throughout the years invested in all sorts of increasingly-expensive coping mechanisms. In 2019, for instance, Business Insider revealed in a deep dive into Facebook's intensive security practices that Zuckerberg not only had guards posing as security guards but also was said to have a "panic chute" built to help him escape from his company's headquarters if need be.
At some point in the past five years or so, Zuckerberg began channeling his uneasiness in a different direction: by getting super into mixed martial arts and other extreme sports, which a different group of executives warned recently could lead to his untimely demise.
Nevertheless, some of that old paranoid Zuck remains, as evidenced by what is perhaps the ultimate testament to the man's anxiety: his $100 million doomsday bunker on Kauai that lives on the grounds of his top-secret island compound that has its own luxury food sources.
More money, as the old saying goes, brings more problems — but it also brings more, uh, extreme solutions for anxiety, apparently.
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