Young, younger, entrepreneurs!

In February this year Facebook made a much-anticipated status update. Eight years after founder Mark Zuckerberg started the project at Harvard University, Facebook announced that it would go public.

If Facebook manages to make enough friends on Wall Street with its initial public offering of stock, it would probably make its stock -market debut in four or five months as one of the world’s most influential companies.

Facebook is a success story; there is no doubt about it. In 2010 director David Fincher made the beginnings of Facebook into a film called The Social Network. Yes, we all know that Facebook has become tremendously successful and yes, it changed our social life. But that is not the point. The point is that Mark Zuckerberg will be the youngest CEO among 1000 most high-selling American corporations, if Facebook goes public.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg

The operative word in this sentence is “youngest”. Mark Zuckerberg is no longer an exception as far as young entrepreneurs are concerned, but only being young doesn’t guarantee success.

Jeans, grey t-shirt or hoodie and sneakers- that was Mark Zuckerberg’s college look that we saw for years wherever he appeared. Okay, there is nothing wrong with that. He is 28 years old, young and innovative. In 2009, however, it seemed that Zuckeberg has grown up, at least visually. For a whole year he was wearing a tie which should demonstrate that this particular year was both decisive and serious. Although now he is wearing a suit from time to time depending on the occasion, he cannot hide his juvenile clumsiness. At public events the computer geek that runs the multi billion-dollar company appears to be insecure and nervous when talking to potential investors.

More and more smart youngsters like Mark Zuckerberg join the upper league. Instead of being in an trainee program young entrepreneurs occupy high-ranking positions as CEOs.

Andrew Mason, the 31-year old founder and CEO of Groupon, a website that is offering discounts on local businesses, and 30-year old Brian Chesky, CEO of airbnb, an online room-rental service, rather look like college students than entrepreneurs who are worth billions.

Nevertheless, one can speak of a trend towards younger managers, especially in the digital business. They know the new markets better and are closer to the target groups. Probably it is the effort and verve they add to their ideas and business models and the willingness to take risks in order to put these into practice.

How else would you explain the success of twenty-something Instagram founders Mike Krieger and Kevin Systrom who turned two years of work into $ 1 billion?

The manager’s age doesn’t have to be decisive for a company’s success. What is definitely required is strategic and operational expertise and valuable experience abroad that can assure long-term success.

Apple genius and founder Steve Jobs and Google founder Larry Page are ultimate examples that indicate that operating experience and strong leading skills are important prerequisites. Both of them took a time out after the year of foundation to gain this experience they were lacking.

Korn/Ferry International consultant Christoph Kleinen believes:

Given the demographic development it is likely that we will see more older mangers in top level management.

Since companies complain about a shortage of skilled labor and tend to exhaust the possibilities of experienced managers, the phenomenon of young entrepreneurs might be a phase rather than a trend.

Is this the moral of the story then or are we maybe witnessing a fundamental change?

So what is the secret recipe, the secret formula for long-term success? Is there any or was it just mere luck that Mark Zuckerberg found a market niche at the right time and in the right place?

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5 Responses to Young, younger, entrepreneurs!

  1. nourann says:

    Hey mirkalilka!

    I really liked your post and especially your conclusion. Although I had a completely different approach to my blog post this week, our conclusions are a little alike. “So what is the secret recipe, the secret formula for long-term success? Is there any or was it just mere luck that Mark Zuckerberg found a market niche at the right time and in the right place?”, that certainly is a point I am thinking about a lot the last few days. If you´re interested, check out mine (http://curiositykilledtheconsumer.wordpress.com/2012/05/14/the-economics-of-sports-did-you-already-know-volume-i/) and you will realize that our conclusions indeed are akin to each other. And to answer your question: I would have to answer the first question with a no whereas the second question I´d answer with a big fat YES! 🙂 This reminds me a lot of the beginning of my last paragraph: “What I am trying to say is that the only thing that anybody needs is luck, passion, and patience.” This should underline my big fat YES I guess. You are finishing with a question – which is always a good thing to do to keep the readers of your blog busy with your topic!

    I am really surprised that even though we all have very different interests, some thoughts still match. It is not only your blog post that deals at least a little with the uncertainty that the future brings with it/interesting success stories. Some of our fellow students make the same point (for instance Melissa´s recent entry: http://hitthenailonthetop.wordpress.com/2012/05/13/future-without-qualification/)!

    nourann.

  2. Pingback: The billion Dollar question « fastexposure

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  4. katharinakueppers says:

    I was immediaely captured by the title! You probably know who came to my mind right away, when I read it:D
    You did a good job with introducing THE entrepreneur Mark Zuckerberg at the beginning, since everyone knows him, every reader can realte to this topic. I think the beginning was very strong, but the entry got a little waek closer to the end! I wish you could have written more facts (How many start-ups, etc) and I was anticipating more information about start-ups in general. Besides that I think your entry didn’t really tell me anything new… but sometimes that can be a good thing too, to just deepen our knowledge.

  5. xxanh says:

    Dear mirkalika,

    Love your blogpost! Even though I already could imagine that you are going to talk about Mark Zuckerberg and facebook before reading you blogpost, I was still interested to know more about other very young successfull entrepreneurs. You introduced a lot of other new and unknown facts, at least for me :), such as the story about groupon and instagram! I enjoyed reading your blogpost a lot, your style of writing is attracting, your arguments are precise and strong, you also include other opinions, your pictures are well chosen. All in all a very good blogpost. Thank you for posting such a great post 🙂
    I am looking forward to your next post !

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