It’s a good reminder that Mark Zuckerberg wasn’t always the Calm and serene CEO known for training with MMA stars and showing off his gym gains on Instagram.
Last month, Zuckerberg was under pressure stand up and face the families of children who have been hurt by social media companies and apologize. But in Facebook’s early years, this scene might have caused Zuckerberg to have a panic attack — at least, according to a new book.
In an excerpt from her upcoming booktech journalist Kara Swisher said she was alerted to Zuckerberg’s anxiety in public forums by an anonymous Facebook executive.
“I remember attending our annual All Things Digital conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, in 2010, and wondering, as sweat ran down Mark Zuckerberg’s pasty, rounded face, if he was going to collapse at my feet,” Swisher wrote in an excerpt published by New York Review. “‘He gets panic attacks when he speaks in public,’ a Facebook executive warned me years ago. ‘He might pass out.'”
A spokesperson for Meta did not respond to a request for comment before publication.
Swisher said at the time that she wondered if the comment was intended to make her easier on the Facebook co-founder in interviews. Swisher wrote that Zuckerberg had been “unstable” with her.
During Swisher’s conversation with Zuckerberg in 2010, he sweated profusely as he faced questions about how Facebook handled user privacy. The CEO was so worried about sweating at public events that some of his employees even dried his armpits before the big speeches, according to a book on Facebook which was published in 2020.
“I doubt this is true and if it were it would have been at the request of our communications team, but anyone who has ever worn a gray t-shirt can see that,” he said. At the time, Facebook spokesperson Liz Bourgeois told Business Insider.
It’s no wonder Zuckerberg is past his sweating phase. He’s been practicing his oratorical skills for over a decade now and he’s been through his share of fence Congress and journalists over the years.