Three Infamous Pranks from Tech CEOs
Ah, April Fools’ Day. That magical time of year when we basically get a hall pass to prank our customers, coworkers, family members, and friends as much as we like. In the spirit of the day, I dug up three infamous tech pranks from a few well-known CEOs. Jobs, Zuckerberg, Page: tech pranksters at your service.
In January 2007, Steve Jobs revealed the iPhone to the world. Technology, communication, and our collective ability to take selfies everywhere we go has been transformed ever since. In order to demonstrate the iPhone’s power, he opened up Google Maps in front of a rapt audience, quickly found a nearby Starbucks, and called in an order for 4,000 lattes. The recipient of the iPhone’s first prank call, Ying Hang “Hannah” Zhang, was tracked down by Fast Company recently and had this to say about the incident:
I have never heard somebody order 4,000 lattes to go. I didn’t say anything because I was shocked. But my first impression was that he was just being humorous. He sounded like a gentleman.”
Hannah still works at that Starbucks, and she occasionally gets orders for 4,000 lattes to go.
Once upon a time, Mark Zuckerberg pitched a side project called Wirehog to Sequoia Capital, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm. Zuckerberg’s partner at the time, Sean Parker (Napster co-founder and first Facebook president), had a personal ax to grind with Sequoia and knew “there was no way we were ever going to take money” from the firm. Regardless, Zuckerberg and Parker showed up to the meeting, late and in their pajamas, to present, “The Top Ten Reasons You Should Not Invest in Wirehog.” The number one reason? “We’re only here because [a Sequoia partner] told us to come.”
Zuckerberg would go on to regret the pitch, saying, “I assume we really offended them and now I feel really bad about that.”
Google is infamous for its annual April Fool’s Day pranks, but 2007’s TiSP — The Toilet Internet Service Provider — has to be among the best. Google issued a press release announcing the “dark porcelain” project, offering self-installed plumbing-based Internet access by dropping a fiber-optic cable down the toilet and flushing. The gem of a press release “quotes” Larry Page, who said he was pleased for Google to be “leading the way through the sewers, up out of your toilet and — splat — right onto your PC.”
At the TED 2009 conference in California, Bill Gates released live mosquitos into the audience during a presentation about malaria education and prevention. I don’t think this qualifies as a “prank” per se, but it definitely deserves a mention. The mosquitos were malaria-free, of course, but that’s one way to get your audience’s attention.
Have any good pranks, CEO-related or otherwise? Let us know in the comments!
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