Up on Housing Project Hill/It's either fortune or fame/You must pick up one or the other/Though neither of them are to be what they claim.
-- Bob Dylan, Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues
NEW YORK (
) -- As far as I can tell, playing armchair psychologist,
CEO Marissa Mayer and
founder Bryan Goldberg are both nuts. That's not a clinical diagnosis so we'll just go for the more socially acceptable "out of touch."
Here's a quick rundown of the last week or so worth of events.
, made a complete ass of himself in a
post touting the $6.5 million fund raise for his forthcoming female-centric publication
A few days later, Goldberg did it all over again with
I imagine came, at least in part, at the strong urging of his funders.
Refer to this
by Katy Waldman for, between her own narrative and the links, a complete recap of the things Goldberg has done to ass himself.
Then there's Mayer. Hardly an ass, but just as disappointing.
First, she embarks on the overhyped, yet barely-noticed 30-day project of finding a new logo for Yahoo!. Mayer claims the experiment springs from Yahoo!'s "spirit of innovation." Only she -- one of Silicon Valley's anointed -- can pass off an intern changing MS Word fonts every 24 hours as innovative.
Then she does the much-hyped, though ultimately pointless and self-indulging spread for
Dan Schawbel, head of a "Gen Y research and consulting firm," said this with regards to Mayer in comments to
It comes off as if she's on vacation, she's relaxing while everyone else is doing work ... On the picture in her iPad, she doesn't even look real ... I think a lot of people who are powerful just want the publicity. You're probably not going to see a male CEO turn down GQ. Maybe she's doing it because she wants to make Yahoo! look cool, with the iPad?
Not sure I completely agree with his characterization, but it's close enough.
Though I concur 110% with this excerpt from an
piece on the Goldberg dustup:
The rest of the announcement was widely panned as patronizing, tone-deaf and generally disastrous. Among other faux pas, Goldberg held a Q&A with himself in which he assured readers that "we believe that a partner-track attorney can be passionate about world affairs and celebrity gossip ... And there is nothing wrong with that."
"My head hit the desk when I read it," Jezebel editor Jessica Coen told Adweek. "Right out of the gate, when that guy is the biggest representative of your brand, that has to be very dispiriting from an editorial perspective."
... Reaction to (Goldberg's subsequent) apology was mixed. "I applaud the effort, but it does read like he was parroting what he was told in the comments," said Coen. "I find it hard to believe that he would do a total 180 and completely understand the issue over the course of 36 hours."
That's because it's not possible for him to "do a total 180 and completely understand the issue over the course of 36 hours." He apologized because he had to. There was likely no or very little choice.
My experience with this type of issue tells me it's probably safe to assume he received an ear full from somebody with the power to pull his strings -- maybe somebody from
Ventures? Do you really think they want to be associated with such idiocy?
If Goldberg had his way, there's little doubt in my mind he would have responded to the controversy with something more like this -- a somewhat overconfident
(that I actually tend to agree with) he penned for
in response to
Having met Goldberg, but not Mayer, I don't dislike either of them. It's perfectly plausible to call somebody an "ass," but like them at the same time. In fact, being completely honest, much of my criticism -- and undoubtedly the criticism of others -- comes from jealousy. Be man, or woman, enough to admit it. Cats like Goldberg and Mayer have had such incredible success so early in life that it's difficult to not take shots if they irk you even the slightest bit.
That said, their early success likely impacts their behaviors as well.
You absolutely have to be out of touch with the rest of the world if you headline an
, like Goldberg did in March, with the proclamation,
I'm starting another content company and I plan to make a fortune
I am thrilled to be in this space, and I can't wait to launch my next site. It's going to make me rich(er).
How can you read that and not come up with words such as "ass" in response?
Then there's Mayer who passes off tweaks to a logo as "innovative" and continues to flaunt herself as a celebrity while mindlessly blowing shareholder cash on a myriad of seemingly disconnected acquisitions.
This isn't as much about the ultimate success or failure of
or Yahoo!. Both can succeed. To some extent, both likely will. And you can't argue with the results of Goldberg or Mayer to this point in their careers.
But there's also the equally-as-important issue of how you carry yourself as a professional and human being. We all make mistakes, but I like to think most of us go into the process thinking critically about what we're doing.
You're not Steve Jobs so stop acting like it.
But in their worlds, Goldberg and Mayer might as well be Steve Jobs. Their actions and instincts reflect their unique life experiences and professional triumph. Not all that different from a professional athlete falling into a pile of fortune and fame. Thankfully, based on my experience with successful entrepreneurs and other wealthy businesspeople, this is not necessarily the norm.
Put a way us layman can understand it -- with a sports analogy -- Goldberg and Mayer should learn how to carry themselves more like hockey players. It would not only benefit them, but their companies and those around them. Plus they would at least relay the perception that they don't think they're all that different from the rest of us.
Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.
Rocco Pendola is a columnist and
Director of Social Media. Pendola makes frequent appearances on national television networks such as
as well as
. Whenever possible, Pendola uses hockey, Springsteen or Southern California references in his work. He lives in Santa Monica.