You might think a long quiet walk through the woods with Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, is a treat only his closest friends and dearest family get to enjoy. Yet a chummy stroll with one of the richest men in the world is actually reserved for a few select potential Facebook employees.
Although the hiking path is often the same, along a wooded area of Palo Alto that skirts Stanford University, those invited change each time.
Several people who have been courted by Mr. Zuckerberg told the same story. The 27-year-old chief executive surprises them with the idea of a walk through the woods. A little startled by the invite, people often agree, and are then led across the Facebook parking lot where they eventually end up hiking along a trail that reaches a Silicon Valley lookout. This is where Mr. Zuckerberg delivers his pitch.
The individuals who shared these stories asked not to be named as they were asked to sign a nondisclosure agreement with Facebook during the interview process. Facebook did not respond when asked if this was a regular practice by Mr. Zuckerberg when trying to hire high-level employees.
An intimate walk with Facebook’s founder is of course a rarity in the competitive battle to work for the company. Getting a job at Facebook is considered one of the top career moves in Silicon Valley. Potential employees go through a long and arduous interview process that includes an online application, phone interviews and then in-person sessions with more Facebook employees and managers.
But a handful of rock-star engineers and designers get to leapfrog that entire process.
A potential employee who took a walk with Mr. Zuckerberg earlier this year said the encounter began with a very unexpected e-mail.
“I opened my e-mail one morning and there was a message from Mark Zuckerberg. I almost choked on my coffee,” said the person. “He asked me to come down to the Facebook campus in Palo Alto to discuss possibly working for the company.”
When the visitor arrived, he met Mr. Zuckerberg in his office, and was then immediately whisked away to the wooded trail. More than one potential employee who experienced the same encounter said the entire experience was “pretty disorienting.”
“Zuckerberg said money wasn’t an object and that if I wanted the job – and why wouldn’t I, he questioned – the paperwork was already ready to go back at the office,” said the person who ran a small start-up Mr. Zuckerberg was trying acquire. “The entire experience was totally surreal. I really felt like I was on a date.”
Another person who was taken on the same walk last year said that when they arrived at the end of the trail, they were confronted with an amazing view of Palo Alto. There, Mr. Zuckerberg stood and explained the technological history of the area.
“He pointed out Apple’s headquarters, then Hewlett-Packard and a number of other big tech companies,” the individual explained. “Then he pointed to Facebook and said that it would eventually be bigger than all of the companies he had just mentioned, and that if I joined the company, I could be apart of it all.”Content origenlay published in New York Times