When hearing about today's gigantic Facebook IPO, in which the public could buy shares of the company for $38 a pop and Mark Zuckerberg and a host of others were turned into billionaires, I started thinking about what would happen if The Social Network, the Oscar-nominated 2010 movie, had a sequel. We'd have Zuckerberg raking in all that cash and Eduardo Saverin, the hero of the initial movie, renouncing his American citizenship so that he could save on the tax bill that comes from becoming a kazillionaire over night.
Then I started thinking about movie sequels and Internet empires and then it came to me: Facebook's IPO is totally like The Empire Strikes Back, the second chapter in the Star Wars trilogy. (My hand to Jar Jar Binks, I won't acknowledge that those other three prequels exist.) Sounds crazy, right?
Just bear with me. Zuckerberg, of course, is Darth Vader, the evil mastermind who doesn't care much about privacy and wants to become the most powerful force in the universe (next to the Emperor, who in this case is like the several venture capital firms that made even more money today than Zuckerberg did). He tracks all the other characters down to Cloud City, a dream-like Mecca of a place that might be something like Palo Alto, Calif.
Our protagonists are Saverin as Luke Skywalker, the lost compatriot of Vader's (a son in the movie, a former friend in our little simulation) who is trying to stay true to his cause even while facing defeat. Then there's Sean Parker playing Han Solo, a flashy renegade who initially helped steward his friends, but is now on the outs. Solo is captured by Boba Fett and returned to Jabba the Hutt in carbonite whereas Parker was removed from his post following a cocaine bust. There was no carbonite involved that we know of.
I racked my brain trying to think of a Princess Leia and the best I could come up with was Randi Zuckerberg, Mark's sister (just like Leia was related by blood to Vader). She's the former marketing manager of Facebook and was a correspondent for ABC News, filming segments about celebrities, politics, and other things young people just love. It's just like Leia's little "Obi Wan, you're our only hope," video. Anyway, she left the company last year and may have a bone to pick with her big brother, like Leia does with Vader. Randi, however, is not attracted to either Parker or Saverin, but that sure would make our sequel a lot more interesting.
As for the secondary characters, there is C3PO, the ancillary droid who is at turns entertaining and dreadfully annoying. Sounds much like Mark Pincus, the CEO of Zynga, who became a billionaire today thanks to Farmville and other addictive/repulsive Facebook distractions. There's Peter Thiel, venture capitalist and Facebook's initial investor and old friend who's there to lend muscle when needed but doesn't say much. He's our Chewbacca. There's also Bono, who is profiting on the whole mess (to the tune of $1.5 billion) for doing not much of anything except lending the evil leader a hand when he needed it. Sounds like Lando Calrissian.
As for all of us, who are we? Well, we're the nameless, faceless stormtroopers out there battling the forces of good so that Darth can walk away a billionaire. We're just shooting our blasters armed with photo shares, event postings, and status updates, the silent but deadly force that drives the whole damn movie. Yup, Empire Strikes Back totally sounds like Facebook to me.
Follow Brian Moylan on Twitter @BrianJMoylan
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