February 8, 2011


The February edition of “Vanity Fair” features an article about Arianna Huffington and two former friends who have decided to sue her now that her blog has been sold to AOL for several hundred million dollars. The two men charge her with failing to recognize their contribution to her venture. The quarrel has all the earmarks of that other property rights battle dramatized in the movie “The Social Network.”  This one is sadder because the argument is among long time friends.

If one wonders how a blog can leap into prominence the way Huffington’s did, one need look no farther than the guest list of those invited to her home for the first brainstorming session. Among the luminaries were: Hollywood mogul David Geffen, producer, Brian Grazer, screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, TV producer Norman Lear, actress Meg Ryan and Obama’s ambassador to Italy (Vanity Fair, pg. 127).

By contrast, the Zuckerberg’s web-child began in a college dormitory after a brainstorming session between roommates. Zuckerberg and his cohorts had a great idea. Huffington had deep pockets. Both were lifted by the wings of success.

Comparing the two stories, one is likely to come away believing in the egalitarian nature of the World Wide Web. Anyone can rise to success. Unfortunately, the differences are only skin deep. Zuckerberg took his parochial idea to giddy heights only after he met important people who gave him a boost.  

What’s the moral of the story? In the virtual world, like the real one, success comes easiest with luck or by inviting the ambassador to Italy to tea.