What the Wall Street Journal calls a "love story" between Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and Washington Post CEO Donald Graham sounds more parasitic than a true bromance. The two CEOs indeed have a special relationship, with the two palling around together, Zuck teaching Graham about Facebook and Graham reciprocating with gems of wisdom about CEO life.
Just look at this handy graphic the Journal provided alongside the article, we get a sense of the type of benefits one gives to the other. Under the category "benefits of bromance" -- yes the esteemed Wall Street Journal just employed the term "bromance" -- The Post gets premium access to Facebook's media-related developments, like Social Reader. While Zuck gets to learn about "life as a CEO" -- something Zuckerberg, as a CEO, probably knows a little something about at this point, seven years after founding the company.
Zuckerberg and Graham worked together to develop Social Reader, which is a part of Zuck's vision for the future of both Facebook and the Media. The two companies collaborated to first launch Trove, which allowed users to build a news site around their interests, using information from their Facebook profiles. This eventually turned into Social Reader. The Washington Post gets prime access to the social network's 800 million members. And what did Zuck get in return? He "takes counsel from Don," a family friend told The Journal. Sure, Graham is a CEO. But as The Journal points out, the Post Co. isn't exactly doing well. Its main revenue source, Kaplan, has lost revenue due to new regulations aimed at for-profit education ventures. And, as the snack situation over there proves, the newspaper arm won't be lifting the company out of the doldrums, with a 50 percent drop in profits in Q3 of 2011.
Zuckerberg has known Graham since Facebook's early days, meeting in 2005 through a friend of Zuckerberg's at Harvard. Even during this honeymoon period of their romance, Graham could never provide for Zuck. Graham had tried to invest in the nascent company. It didn't work out. "It was the only time in my life that I thought to make a venture investment," Graham told WSJ. An emotional investment that Zuckerberg could never reciprocate.
Chart courtesy of The Wall Street Journal.