His audience this Monday morning, a Who’s Who of Wall Street heavy-hitters, with untold billions to command, shifts in its seats. Papers rustle. BlackBerrys buzz. Cue Mr. Zuckerberg and —
Wait: where the heck is Zuck?
Mr. Zuckerberg, the hoodied man-child of Facebook, is stuck in the men’s room. Apparently, the suits can wait.
Up on the stage, Sheryl K. Sandberg, Mr. Zuckerberg’s No. 2 and the polished, corporate yin to his nerdy, coder yang, vamps a little: You know Zuck, she shrugs. And the money types laugh: yes, we know Zuck.
It’s May 7, a week before Mr. Zuckerberg’s 28th birthday. And, as Wall Street, Silicon Valley and the wider world all know, something big is coming. It is the deal that will either prove once and for all that Facebook is changing just about everything, everywhere, or that the mania over social media and this company, its apotheosis, is spiraling out of control.
Inside a ballroom at the Sheraton New York in Midtown Manhattan, Facebook’s executives, spinmeisters and bankers are choreographing its initial public stock offering. This is no mere I.P.O. It feels like a cultural event, a pinnacle in the history of tech, a moment. The deep pockets have arrived at the Sheraton for a multibillion-dollar sales pitch. If all goes well, Facebook will go public on Friday in an I.P.O. that could value it at nearly $100 billion.
One hundred billion dollars — for a company that, eight years ago, didn’t even exist.
No one has more riding on this than Mark Elliot Zuckerberg, hero-villain of “The Social Network,” destroyer of worlds, devourer of time and, for better and worse, the latest in a line of revolutionaries stretching back to Gutenberg who have upended the way we communicate and think.