It’s not everyday that you see the celebrity founder and CEO of a $500bn company sharing an intimate photo of his wife giving him a haircut. Neither do you see mad-genius space scientists lovingly cradling a baby in their arms. In normal times, when you do see them, they’re probably at a tech conference holding forth on their next world-changing app. Or giving soundbites to tech journalists in their corporate finery at a Davos forum.
But these are not normal times. The Coronavirus pandemic that’s caused the world to come to a standstill, disrupted how the world works and lives from inside their homes for almost 2 months now had led to something extraordinary. It’s broken the walls around highly-guarded personal lives of the most powerful people in the corporate and tech worlds.
When Mark Zuckerberg shared the photo of his wife giving him the “second haircut” during the quarantine, it wasn’t the CEO you’re used to seeing in the boardrooms, tech conferences or even the US parliament. It was just a husband, with a new family and a wife working from home, making-do with a home haircut, without the services of a barber.
Of course it helps that he happens to own Instagram, and by posting personal content involving himself and his family, he gets to be the first and most powerful user of his own product.
Elon Musk may have discovered war on Facebook and Instagram but Twitter is another story. On the microblogging platform, Elon is hard to miss, with hot takes on Tesla, technology and space and some odd musings at times, but his 34mn followers knew no joy when he responded to the request of a photo with his freshly-born baby on Twitter. When someone asked how the baby was doing, Musk’s “Great. Just sleeps & eats, overall pretty chill.” was literally every dad – plans to send people on Mars or not.
— Viv ? (@flcnhvy) May 11, 2020
Jeff Bezos is just the richest man on earth right now and his company Amazon has recently touched the valuation of a $1 trillion, but back at home, he’s just another dude, Zoom-ing with another world-changer while his pet poodle looks on hoping for a nudge under the chin from his master.
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In a call with @GovInslee, I thanked him for the Herculean efforts he and his team have undertaken and for his leadership during this unsettling time. I emphasized that the most important need is plentiful testing capacity everywhere, and pledged Amazon’s continuing help with logistics, jobs, and working to get critical supplies to those in need.
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Closer home in India, top Indian CEOs and businessmen, may have been still their media-shy selves, and the situation in the hallowed Indian startup ecosystem may too grave (with the spate of layoffs all around) to give in to some light heartedness. But Anand Mahindra, head the Indian automobile giant shared this viral meme and let us in on his sartorial choices when working from home, on his Twitter account with his 7mn followers. He even confessed that “I’ve been learning how to cut my own hair, but I’ve reached the end of my abilities!”
On a lighter note, this is from my #whatsappwonderbox. And I have a confession to make:On some Video Calls from home, I DID wear a lungi under my shirt. Didn’t have to stand up at any point during the meetings, but I suspect my colleagues may ask me to do so after this tweet! pic.twitter.com/e1IElefNaa
— anand mahindra (@anandmahindra) April 5, 2020
In world where everyone is holed up in their homes, there is a strange solidarity and relatability between people pulled apart by a virus, but joined together by the internet. Sure, a Bezos isn’t about to stack up a bunch of books to create a makeshift work desk, he’s busy selling them by millions on Amazon. But with work-from-home about to become the rule than the exception, these glimpses of their guarded lives, while they work at home showing us parts of their domestic life, kids, dogs et all have evoked a “Billionaires? they’re just like us” feel like never before.