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Comments: Week of May 21, 2012


1. If Facebook is worth $100 billion, as the approaching IPO promises, it’s a credit to Mark Zuckerberg’s genius as CEO, Henry Blodget argued in a cover story on the company and its precocious leader (The Maturation of the ­Billionaire Boy-Man,” May 14). Some readers didn’t totally buy it. “A rather defensive profile of Mark Zuckerberg that seems designed to convince readers that Zuck having 57 percent of Facebook voting shares is a great idea,” wrote Nitasha Tiku at the New York Observer’s BetaBeat blog. “It would be easier to forgive Mr. Blodget if he spent some time in the magazine talking about why he thinks Facebook’s IPO will be ‘enormous Muppet bait,’ as he tweeted last week, rather than taking Zuck at his word.” Instead, she recommended a sidebar on “peak Facebook” by Paul Ford: “Mr. Ford argues that Facebook hasn’t peaked because of its OAuth service, which lets you log in to websites and apps. Having hundreds of millions of people use your product as an identity layer has a way of giving it legs. See, now that is brillz.” Rebecca Greenfield at the Atlantic Wire marveled at Zuck’s unlikely savvy: “Zuckerberg has somehow convinced the world that his Aspergers-like characteristics are working for him and the company. So even though Zucker­berg still hasn’t quite gotten over his Über-nerdy reputation, having ushered his company from dorm room start-up to the powerhouse it is today, his quirks, which he has toned down, come off as shrewd.” (At least one commenter wasn’t persuaded: “This is total fawning pro-IPO road show propaganda. Zuck was and still is an obvious sociopath.”) At Gawker, Maureen O’Conner mocked Blodget’s aggregation of his own article at his website Business Insider, prompting Gawker owner Nick Denton to dive into the comments thread to criticize O’Conner, praise Blodget, and express some ambivalent-at-best feelings about the direction of his own company. “Did you read the original piece? I did. It’s fucking fantastic. Best thing I’ve read about building a business—well, actually, way more than a business—in years.”

2. “My calling is to say, let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream,” Cornel West told Lisa Miller in a profile of the self-­proclaimed prophet and provocateur, who is returning to teach at Union Theological Seminary after almost a decade at Princeton and a recent high-profile falling-out with President Obama (I Want to Be Like Jesus,” May 14). “Oh wow,” tweeted @dreamhampton. “Cornel West can’t be happy with this New York mag profile.” Everyone else on Twitter seemed to agree: “@jesshopp: The NY Mag Cornel West profile is straight up rude”; @djbigdaddy called it “scathing.” Maybe too scathing, one reader at argued: “After reading it, we are clear that the writer finds Cornel West to be self-serving, hypocritical, mawkish, waffling, overrated, overhyped, an academic failure, a personal failure blah blah blah. But I’m not sure why we are supposed to care.” Not all readers found the portrait so harsh. “Professor West is a borderline clown in my regard, but I read this article with interest and it made him a much more sympathetic figure, to me,” wrote one commenter at ­ “It made me want to go back and read Race Matters, which I disregarded at the time as popcorn (though I am no expert).” Wrote another: “I’ve been critical of West for years, and find it refreshing to read testimonies by ex-colleagues who reveal the man’s basic sweetness. Besides, it is impossible to completely dislike any man who approaches women with ‘Marry me and be Queen of Black America!’ ”

3. Most readers were skeptical that 7-Eleven could really unseat the bodega for corner-store supremacy in New York. (The Big Gulp,” by Willy Staley, May 14). “This is the land of 24-hour delis and bodegas,” wrote one commenter at ­ “We don’t need a Japan/­Texas-based company to come tell us how to do ‘convenience.’ ” Another also questioned the chain’s “expertise”: “My questions would be, what kind of lousy business­people are you that you only just now saw market opportunity in Manhattan, and at this point, why does NYC need you? Many bodegas are terrible, but even the bad ones are as tenacious as cockroaches. And the good bodegas are paradisiacal—like the one in the Times Square area that has perfect black-and-white cookies and every kind of soda under the sun. I came back to the office one day with a Tab, and my colleague asked if I’d found a time tunnel somewhere in the vicinity.” But a couple of readers admitted to soft spots for the neon-and-fluorescent buffet. “I love a Slurpee and unhealthy nachos when I’m vulnerable about life.” And another: “I’ll say this—the 7-Eleven on 23rd and Park has the best morning coffee layout of any of the bodegas in the area. I’m a believer in small businesses, but I also know a superior product when I see it.

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