An Open Letter To Randi Zuckerberg: How Could You Do This to Real Entrepreneurs?

By Sarah Lacy , written on April 5, 2012

From The News Desk

I have known Randi Zuckerberg since the early days of Facebook, and I liked her immediately. And as a new mom balancing the working world, I feel a certain kinship with her.

But as I've said from the beginning of this site, I won't let investors' interests dictate our coverage, and it's just as bad if I let personal friendships do it.

Particularly because I believe what Randi Zuckerberg has done to Silicon Valley in producing this TV show for Bravo is just unconscionable. I haven't written anything until now for two reasons. The first is that I felt like our contributor Francisco Dao mostly nailed it yesterday. The second is because I am just stunned. I keep hoping to hear from her publicly that Bravo just utterly twisted her vision. Unfortunately, I've only seen her retweeting about it with glee and winky-faces and triple exclamation points.

To be fair, I've only seen the previews. Perhaps the show is dramatically different than how it appears. But if that were the case, again, I'd hope she'd be saying that today. And she's not as far as I have seen.

In case you haven't seen it, the show depicts people drinking, shirtless in clubs, and standing in front of a walk-in closet of suits as some sort of "insider look" at Silicon Valley. It is quite literally making us look like "The Jersey Shore," only without the tans. Anyone who has spent a day here knows just how bastardized that is. It's ridiculous really.

And yet, it looks familiar. Let's see...clubs, parties, bimbo women, an obsession with money and things...where have we seen that depiction of Silicon Valley before?

Oh yes, it was in Aaron Sorkin's outrageously fictional depiction of Facebook -- her brother's company -- in "The Social Network." It was a film that caused no small amount of trauma inside the halls of Facebook for its ludicrous depiction of the company's early years and the personality of....Randi's brother.

Rather than answer the film directly, Facebook let others who knew the early days of the company do the talking for them when the film came out. And person after person -- me included -- attested that it was not only a bullshit representation of the company, but a bullshit, reckless, and damaging representation of Silicon Valley.

How on earth has Randi Zuckerberg decided that the right course of action -- for herself, women in tech, or the Valley that she claims to be a part o f-- is to produce a show that validates the embarrassing image that the tech-hating Sorkin made up out of whole cloth nearly two years ago?

How on earth can Randi Zuckerberg -- who is one of the closest people in the world to this generation's best tech entrepreneur -- pretend that preview is an accurate depiction of the Valley?

How on earth can Randi Zuckerberg -- who saw the angst over that movie by the people it affected most -- sell herself out to Hollywood's desire to make Silicon Valley look like, as the pilot says, "high school"?

How on earth can Randi Zuckerberg -- who knows how one frame of film will be taken as gospel over a thousand books, blog posts, or real interviews -- sleep at night?

Mark Zuckerberg has always been hugely supportive of his sister, and I can only assume he is now. But I have to wonder what Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg thinks of this.

Sandberg has worked tirelessly, when she's not running the business side of one of the largest Internet companies in the world, to advocate on behalf of women in the work world. Sandberg absolutely forced people in the highest levels of power in the Valley, Washington DC, and the Ivy League system to take her every bit as seriously as a man.

How can she possibly feel about the scenes of women dancing in clubs with shirtless men as a depiction of life in the Valley? Having seen Sandberg physically recoil every time "The Social Network" is brought up, I have no doubt there are some awkward conversations going on at One Hacker Way this week.

Two years ago, we could dismiss Sorkin easily as an outsider with an agenda. It was well known that he had never met Zuckerberg, didn't even use Facebook, and had a general disdain for tech. But Randi Zuckerberg is a legitimate insider. And she has sold her industry and her generation out, and there's little any of the real entrepreneurs can say other than sit there, mouth agape, wondering why the hell she would do this.

I hope she made plenty of money off the deal, because as far as I'm concerned she's sold her Silicon Valley soul for fifteen minutes of fame on basic cable.

You'll have to let me know if the show gets better, because I won't be watching. I actually have a company to build.