Home / News / Is Mark Zuckerberg’s transformation a result of a midlife crisis or a meticulously planned rebranding?

Is Mark Zuckerberg’s transformation a result of a midlife crisis or a meticulously planned rebranding?

On Mark Zuckerberg’s 40th birthday, his wife gifted him a professional photoshoot.

Zuckerberg wears a sly smile while sitting in a meticulously recreated replica of his childhood bedroom. The items present, such as a lava lamp, a participation trophy, and a white stuffed dog, may seem childlike, but they symbolize the significant impact that Zuckerberg’s creation would have on culture and technology. Amongst a collection of voluminous books on C++, Java, and Windows 95, there is a framed photograph in sepia tones. The photograph depicts a youthful Zuckerberg, seated in his desk chair, assuming the same posture he currently maintains: one arm casually resting on the back of his office chair, while the other dangles over his spread-out legs.

These photos, which depict different stages in the CEO’s life, illustrate the significant progress that Zuckerberg has made. From being a thin and weak child who was acquiring programming skills, he has now become one of the wealthiest individuals on the planet. However, the primary impression that the public derived from the photo was different. Instead, they raise the question: Does Zuck possess the drip?

Mark Zuckerberg appears unusually fashionable, deviating from his usual affinity for vintage technology accessories. He wears a thick gold chain around his neck, which is not long enough to hide the large, gothic-style text on his graphic tee: Carthago delenda est, meaning Carthage must be destroyed.

Zuckerberg’s recent change in attire is quite apparent. For approximately 13 years, he has consistently worn a gray shirt and jeans for most public appearances. This choice of clothing aligns with his focus on significant matters that may be beyond the understanding of ordinary individuals like us. It is worth noting that our limited financial means may contribute to our tendency to spend excessive time on dressing. In April, when Zuckerberg shared an Instagram reel discussing the advancements of the Meta AI assistant, observers focused on Zuckerberg’s youthful and casual style rather than paying attention to the details of the Llama 3 model. An individual manipulated a photograph of Zuckerberg’s video by superimposing a beard onto his visage, resulting in widespread circulation due to the unexpectedly favorable appearance. Currently, the most prominent comments on the video are urging him to genuinely cultivate his facial hair.

During a recent prominent wedding in India, Zuckerberg donned an intricately embellished suit by Alexander McQueen. The next day, he opted for a lavish organza shirt crafted by Rahul Mishra, a renowned Indian fashion designer. The shirt’s embroidery is so elaborate that its price is indicated as “request price” online, akin to a freshly caught lobster at a high-end restaurant. Zuckerberg was seen wearing a flashy shirt with a tiger pattern, while Bill Gates was dressed in a way that would be allowed by the dress code of my elementary school.

Zuckerberg’s sartorial decisions may appear trivial, but they have a significant influence on the public’s perception of both him and his business. As the CEO of one of the largest technology companies globally, it is crucial to recognize the seriousness of the situation, particularly when the company has faced severe criticism regarding child safety concerns and the addictive nature of its designs. If Zuckerberg were to transform into a trendy MMA fighter rather than being perceived as a socially awkward individual who is capitalizing on our personal information, could his sophisticated demeanor protect him from close examination?

“Personal style serves as a means of communication,” stated Amber Venz Box, the former fashion blogger who now serves as the founder of the shopping platform LTK, in an interview. “We possess various forms of communication, including verbal and written communication, as well as nonverbal cues such as body language. Additionally, our physical appearance, or ‘drip’, plays a significant role in conveying information about ourselves and shaping others’ perceptions of us.”

This individual is distinct from the one we previously observed appearing pale and exhausted while giving testimony to Congress regarding Facebook’s ability to undermine the electoral process. Recall the incident from two years ago when we collectively ridiculed the photograph of Metaverse Zuck standing in front of the Eiffel Tower. And now we are eagerly desiring his non-existent facial hair? Mark Zuckerberg’s transformation occurred almost instantaneously, coinciding with the decline in our interest in Horizon Worlds. Currently, he is a physically fit Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter who subtly boasts on Instagram about completing a 5-kilometer run in just 21 minutes. He has transformed from the victim of bullying in high school to the perpetrator of bullying.

“Perhaps he lost interest,” suggested Avery Trufelman, a podcaster and fashion historian, in an interview “He resembles Taylor Swift after the Reputation era.”

Trufelman’s juxtaposition of an exceptionally proficient computer science enthusiast and an unprecedentedly successful pop star may appear far-fetched. However, in a time when technology corporations dominate our daily lives, consuming our attention for extensive periods, tech CEOs have become a form of celebrity.

Highly influential celebrities, such as Swift and Beyonc√©, seldom engage in conversations with the media. There is no obligation for them to do so. Instead, fans meticulously analyze lyrics for hidden messages, akin to Talmudic scholars scrutinizing ancient texts. It is similar to technology enthusiasts who listen to Meta’s quarterly earnings calls, analyzing the valuable information we receive about Zuckerberg’s discussions regarding his business.

“Fashion discourse has essentially transformed into the analysis of images and the application of psychological theories from the comfort of one’s own home,” Trufelman stated. Is it significant to this extent? I am uncertain. However, particularly for prominent and intimidating public figures, this represents one of the limited opportunities we have to gain insight into their internal processes. Therefore, we are making every effort to utilize it to the fullest extent possible.

Zuckerberg wore the Carthago delenda est shirt not only for its aesthetic appeal. The phrase is a reference to the CEO’s initial days as a novice startup founder. In his photoshoot, he reminds us that he slept in a basic bedroom with only a mattress on the floor until Facebook reached 100 million users. While he could have acquired a bed frame and some simple decorations secondhand, he chose not to in order to enhance the glamour of his relentless work ethic, as depicted in his 40th birthday photoshoot.

Zuckerberg’s former bedroom, with its unfriendly atmosphere, and his reference to the downfall of Carthage, position him as a defiant figure challenging the dominance of established technology companies. As reported by Business Insider, Zuckerberg proclaimed “Carthago delenda est” at Facebook in 2011, in response to the launch of Google+, which was perceived as a potential threat to Facebook’s dominance. Zuckerberg implemented a strict and intensive working environment, referred to as “lockdown mode” in his photoshoot, in order to exert great effort to eliminate their rivals.

This Latin phrase originates from Cato the Elder, an ancient Roman statesman, who consistently ended his speeches with an exhortation to conquer Carthage. However, Rome was not considered the weaker party in the Punic Wars, and Zuckerberg is not an underdog either. Rome emerged triumphant in all three of these wars, but it was determined to completely eradicate Carthage. That adage is more aggressive than “move fast and break things,” but it is worth noting that Google+ no longer exists. The task was successfully completed.

Zuckerberg’s aspiration to establish himself as a prominent figure in the annals of American commerce is evident in his carefully orchestrated photoshoot. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is depicted in a photograph, seated on a small chair alongside Zuckerberg in a replica of the Harvard dormitory where Facebook was originally launched.

The image is disquieting. Gates is attired in sportswear, donning a hoodie, gym shorts, Adidas sneakers, and tube socks, giving the impression that he is prepared for a run. Zuckerberg, perched on an elevated chair, appears to be presiding over the tech industry’s elite. Currently, Zuckerberg possesses a greater amount of wealth than Gates.

Zuckerberg has consistently recognized that he cannot assume Meta’s supremacy and must not become complacent about his position within the company. The board’s structure ensures that Mark can never be forcibly removed from his role. The T-shirt’s aggressive slogan remains relevant: Currently, TikTok, Meta’s primary rival, is engaged in a battle for survival.

Meta is filled with indications that maintaining the top position is challenging, as evidenced by its significant decline in stock value in 2022. This decline occurred when it became apparent that Zuckerberg’s ambitious metaverse plans were not as certain as he portrayed them to be. An example of such a reminder is incorporated into the entrance of the company’s corporate campus. Upon establishing its presence in Menlo Park, the company retained the entrance sign from Sun Microsystems, the previous occupant of the lot. The company deliberately rotated the sign and affixed the Facebook “thumbs-up” symbol to it, while ensuring that the SunSystems logo remained visible from the back.

“I have always found it artistically meaningful to preserve those symbols of the rise and fall of empires, and it is evident that Zuck possesses this mindset reminiscent of Ozymandias,” Trufelman expressed. “I believe he clearly recognizes his position within the context of history.”

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