Mark Zuckerberg's personal challenge for 2012: Code every day

Mark Zuckerberg's personal challenge for 2012: Code every day

Summary: Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has done a very minimal amount of programming since 2006. In 2012, however, he is aiming to write some code every single day.


Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote a lot of the initial code for Facebook, but very little of it, if any, is still in use. It has been written, rewritten, and optimized many times over. I guess that doesn't matter, given that Zuckerberg barely programs anymore anyway; his time is mainly dedicated to management and his vision of connecting the world. In 2006, when he was 22 and his company was only two years old, Zuckerberg gave up writing code. This year, however, he's reportedly been trying to program every single day.

It's all part of a set of personal challenges Zuckerberg has been setting for himself for the last few years. The young man, who turned 28 on Monday, has had to work extremely hard to meet all the demands of his quickly growing company, his family and friends, as well as his own goals.

The first annual test of discipline was vowing to wear a tie to work every day in 2009. Then Zuckerberg pushed himself to learn Mandarin in 2010. Finally, he insisted on personally killing any animal he ate in 2011 (causing him to become almost a complete vegetarian). That last one caused quite a stir last year; I remember it even though I wasn't covering Facebook at the time.

So 2012 is for programming, at least according to Businessweek: Zuckerberg this year "pledged to return to his roots and spend time programming each day." I bet he'll satisfy today's and tomorrow's coding quote at the company's last hackathon as a private company that is happening as I write this.

The 2012 challenge seems like Zuckerberg's best one yet, because it's directly related to his job. Technology company CEOs that keep up with the latest developments in programming have a much more realistic strategy and more importantly, can communicate it better to their engineers.

That makes sense, given that Facebook is going public this year (read: tomorrow). Zuckerberg is going to want to make sure he can still connect with everyone at the social networking giant as it continues to grow.

See also:

Topic: Social Enterprise

Emil Protalinski

About Emil Protalinski

Emil is a freelance journalist writing for CNET and ZDNet. Over the years,
he has covered the tech industry for multiple publications, including Ars
Technica, Neowin, and TechSpot.

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  • My goal is to...

    ...poop every day.
  • His biggest goal should be to just grow up, and realize that, he can't go

    back to being what he was at 22 or even at 27. Whatever he does, isn't going to matter, unless it's related to managing his company and making sure that it doesn't go down the sewer, like others that were successful at one time, like Yahoo and MySpace, and are now just skeletal remains of their former selves.

    Right now, he's still thinking like a little kid, and being naive. The good old days are behind you, Mark, and you need to get out of that attitude that screams: "Look at me! I can still do it. Ain't I great?".
    • Instead

      What he needs to do is learn to live his life. Life is short and while his company success will bring some satisfaction (or not) to him, at some point it will not matter anymore. Companies of the Facebook kind have short lifespan. He better learn to do other things, while he is still young.

      At 28, he still has many years during which he could challenge everything and anyone.

      In any case, nobody will remember him because of Facebook.
      • Being CEO of what is now a major corporation, does not leave time to live

        as a young and dumb and idealistic person; not anymore.

        That stuff about learning or relearning to program is something that belongs in the mind of someone that's naively forgetting that, he's got much bigger responsibilities to worry about. If he needs a hobby, perhaps he needs to learn about growing up, and learning about how an executive manages. His behavior is similar to what a teenager's reaction would be after he learns that, the cutest girl in school has a crush on him. The immensity of being the "leader" of a major corporation has not hit him yet. And he needs to grow up quick.
  • Mark needs to hire 20 people to clean up after him

    Statistically, the worst code (most bugs) is written by software developers who have managerial responsibility. Why? Because coding takes days of uninterrupted time that developers with managerial responsibility never get. How many days of uninterrupted time will Mark Zuckerberg get? ZERO!

    For example, a director in a high tech company that I worked for was very proud that he wrote a program in 3 days over a long weekend. The director assigned a developer to put the program into production. It took the developer 6 months to rewrite and debug the program to the point that the program could be used by customers. How long would it have taken if the director had not spent 3 days "writing" the program? 6 months!

    What should managers in high tech do with their great ideas? Use your words! Talk with a software developer about your idea. If the idea is good, assign the developer full time to implement your idea. I have been on both sides of this type of conversation. It works well.
  • Wasting Time

    To be a successful programmer you really need to spend most if not all your time on it. It is hard work and tough to keep up on changes and techniques. May be not a bad idea to keep doing it daily to at least attempt to keep current. However, it will not be easy to be the CEO of a large corporation especially now that they are publically traded. Shareholders will demand value !

    Some of his other endeavors are a totaly waste of time. Learning Mandarin ? Becoming a vegetarian ? Really ? He has to learn to spend his time more wisely than this !

    He's still very young and has a lot to learn. I applaud him in his achievements. That's what's great about this country is coming up with a great idea and turning into a large enterprise. I don't think he is the nicest guy nor perhaps he is completely honest but he did work awfully hard to get to this point (I am going by what I read and what was depicted in the movie).

    I think he was a better programmer in his "youth" than perhaps Gates was. Gates has been hands off for a very long time.