Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg returned to his alma mater—Harvard—today on a recruiting swing for the world’s most popular social network. He made another trip to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as well. I caught the (very) brief press conference at MIT, where Zuckerberg only had time to answer a few questions.
The first was about what he meant when he recently said he would have kept Facebook in Boston—he re-clarified that Facebook couldn’t have become what it became had he not gone off to Silicon Valley, but knowing what he knows now, he thinks he could have kept the company here.
The second question was something along the lines of “What can we do the next time a company like Facebook comes along to make sure it doesn’t leave Boston?” Zuck gave a similar answer as the one above, saying Facebook needed to be out in Silicon Valley but that there are a lot of smart people here and, as such, cool companies can be built here.
The third question was about Facebook’s efforts to curb cyberbullying. “Facebook is a product where we think a lot of good comes from it,” said Zuckerberg, continuing, “And cyber bullying is one unfortunate thing online that we work really hard to prevent.” He talked about Facebook’s efforts to curb cyberbullying by allowing people to report abusive behavior. “We just think it’s a huge problem online and one that needs to be weeded out,” said Zuckerberg. “And the solutions, we think, are social.”
And with that, he was gone.
Clearly none of us had enough time with Zuckerberg to really get into anything substantial, but the big story here is that he’s in Boston specifically on a recruitment tour of Harvard and MIT.
At MIT, Zuckerberg first met with members of the faculty and then was on his way to talk to a group of 500 students. Those particular students were selected via a lottery process that drew from 2,600 applicants and was “sampled most heavily from electrical engineering and computer science students,” which is the largest major at MIT according to the school’s media relations manager, Kimberly Allen. Zuckerberg is conducting a similar recruitment tour at Harvard today as well.
There’s also an invite-only event tonight for a handful of students—60 invites went out, according to Allen—from both MIT and Harvard. “The whole thing is recruiting. That’s his point of being here,” said Allen. And according to Harvard’s press office, today marks Zuckerberg’s first visit back to the campus “since leaving in 2004 to launch Facebook.”
So the speculation begins as to why Zuckerberg himself would make the trip all the way out to Boston to talk to select groups of students from MIT and Harvard, and then hold an even more exclusive event tonight to talk to a hand-picked group of students. Both today and during Zuckerberg’s recently-reported remarks, he mentioned Boston and New York in the same breath—so keep a close eye on both those markets.