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When it comes to presentation, Mark Zuckerberg is no Steve Jobs

John D. Sutter
Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg turned to equations and graphs before announcing a new partnership with Skype.
Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg turned to equations and graphs before announcing a new partnership with Skype.
  • Mark Zuckerberg appeared Wednesday to announce Facebook video chat
  • Online, Facebookers openly mocked the Facebook CEO's presentation style
  • One common theory: Zuck is trying, and failing, to imitate Steve Jobs
  • Jobs, Apple's co-founder, is known for his wiz-bang press conferences

(CNN) -- Don't let the sweatshirts and flip-flops fool you: The tech world is all about image. And there's no better place to see this than the tech-company press conference -- in which execs show off new products with elaborate PowerPoint presentations.

The most recent example: Wednesday's awkward Facebook event, hosted by CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Here's a smattering of comments about Zuckerberg's presentation, in which he announced a new video-conferencing feature. These popped up on Facebook, during the event in Palo Alto, California:

-- "omg! I'll just read about it later. This is like water torture."

-- "Im gona play solitaire if he doesn't get on with it"

-- "Someone needs to bump him to get him to stop saying UM"

-- "After this, I need an UM detox program.."

At one point, Zuckerberg -- forever the geek -- pulled up a chart about Facebook's projected growth, which he introduced as a "log-normalized graph." The Internet's collective eyes rolled back.

"Logarithmic graphs? Jesus Christ."

So what went wrong?

Essentially, Zuckerberg seems to have tried -- and failed -- to imitate the undisputed king of the tech presser: Apple's Steve Jobs, who is known for leaving even the most skeptical of tech bloggers in a "hypnotic daze" after he finishes a talk.

"Zuckerberg at times appeared to be attempting to channel Steve Jobs in his presentation style," wrote Beatweek Magazine. "But too often he lost sight of the fact that most of his online audience members were from the non-geek general public."

"Steve Jobs builds his presentations around our innermost needs and desires," one Twitter user wrote. "Zuckerberg builds his around normalized logarithmic charts."

Here's a look at the key features of a Jobs presentation -- which he trots out each time Apple has a new iSomething to announce -- and how Zuckerberg fell at least a little short of the mark in copying him.

Facebook 'likes' video chat
Facebook 'likes' Skype

The pre-show buzz: Apple is notoriously silent before its announcements. This drives the tech industry crazy and creates a frenzied rumor mill. But before the Facebook announcement on Wednesday, Zuckerberg made what some tech writers now consider a mistake: He said Facebook would be announcing "something awesome."

This raised expectations, and when those weren't met, the technosphere rushed to declare his Skype partnership decidedly "unawesome," especially since it came on the heels of the release of Google's new social network, Google+, which has a video-chat feature some consider to be more robust.

The anecdote: Zuckerberg opened his presentation, in true Jobsian form, with a personal anecdote, saying he was walking around his neighborhood that very morning and met an older man who told him he wanted to video chat on Facebook with his grandson.

Well, hey there, neighbor -- you're in luck! The anecdote came off to some as almost too perfect. Zuckerberg fidgeted while telling it, emitting an awkward, I've-been-practicing-this laugh.

The wardrobe: Jobs is known for his mock turtleneck, mom jeans and gray New Balance sneakers. It's a wardrobe he's been wearing for decades, with virtually no alterations. When Jobs showed up to an Apple event in March with a belt on his jeans (he usually doesn't wear one) a frenzy of speculation erupted on the subject of his health: Is he too skinny to wear his jeans anymore?

Zuckerberg seems to be copying this idea of wardrobe as signature. In his last few appearances in public, he's worn a gray T-shirt and jeans. Problem one: A T-shirt is a little less memorable than a turtleneck. Problem two: The outfit, which he sometimes pairs with white running shoes, is an open subject of mockery in the fashion world. Esquire put Zuckerberg in its "Celebrity Style Hall of Shame."

"No matter how much money you have or how many people's secrets you hold in your digital palm, you cannot show up to a black-tie event in a T-shirt and jeans and expect to be taken seriously. Seriously," that magazine wrote in 2010.

The PowerPoint: That other stuff many be a little catty, but here's the meat of the difference, as described by various tech writers and Twitter users: Jobs speaks in a way that appeals to normal people, telling them how the company's gadgets will make their lives richer and less stressful; Zuckerberg speaks in code, preaching about Moore's Law, exponential growth and "inflection points."

But maybe it doesn't matter. Zuckerberg, after all, is reported to be richer than Jobs. He also runs the world's largest online network -- with 750 million users.

Beatweek writes that people expect Zuck to be awkward, especially after Jesse Eisenberg's portrayal of him as a robotic misanthrope in "The Social Network." So this presentation, despite all the real-time, online mockery, may have actually helped his reputation.

"We've already accepted that he's an insulated geek, we're all still just trying to figure out whether he's a trustable one."

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.


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