By Peter Hamilton of the Irish Times
“Nobody ever came up with an idea that was going to change the world when they were 24/7 glued to their phone”, Randi Zuckerberg, an entrepreneur and former Facebook employee, has told delegates at a conference.
Speaking at the Pendulum Summit, a conference in Dublin’s convention centre, Ms Zuckerberg said that “we all have to think about the balance of tech”, warning that while it can do incredible things, it doesn’t spur entrepreneurship by itself.
An older sister of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Randi began her career in digital marketing at advertising agency Ogilvy before joining the social media giant in its infancy.
She told the conference about the company’s ‘hackathon’ events, where “every few months everyone at the company was invited to pull an all nighter…there was one rule, you could not work on something that was related to anything you did on your day job.”
Ms Zuckerberg herself came up with the Facebook Live idea at one of those Hackathons. While the first ever transmission was only watched by two people the idea ultimately became a success after Katy Perry launched a world tour on the platform and “politicians from around the world saw an opportunity to speak directly to their constituents” with Barack Obama becoming an early adopter.
Ms Zuckerberg quit the company after the successes of Facebook Live because of a “complicated relationship with both tech and Silicon Valley”.
“On one hand I loved being part of a company like Facebook that was changing the world, I loved being in Silicon Valley where everywhere you walk people are talking about solving big problems. I hated being the only woman in the room for 10 years,” she said.
“Even today, my best advice for young women going into technology, is to have a mans name like Randi.
“I had a growing complicated relationship between the huge digital divide we see in the world. We live in a world today where some of us have amazing access to technology and advice and business and speakers. All of us in this room we are so lucky and then right in our back yard’s are millions of people who don’t even have WiFi access, and millions of people who are going to be left behind from this new economy and for me, I had trouble sitting with that.
“Some of the very tools we were working on and creating, they were used very differently by the world then how we dreamed they’d be used. For example, I remember waking up during the time of the Arab Spring and feeling so proud, waking up every morning thinking, wow, we’ve given a voice to everyone.
“And then I woke up the day after this last election in the United States and thought, wow, we gave a voice to everyone. It’s complicated,” she added.
Ms Zuckerberg is now the chief executive of Zuckerberg Media, a company she founded, and has just finished writing 30 episodes of a television show based on a children’s book she has written called “Dot”.