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Tech reporter says a Facebook exec once warned that Mark Zuckerberg had panic attacks and could faint years before his famously sweaty interview

Tech reporter Kara Swisher said Mark Zuckerberg used to be "skittery" around her.
Tech reporter Kara Swisher said Mark Zuckerberg used to be "skittery" around her.Christian Alminana
  • Kara Swisher said a Facebook exec once warned her Mark Zuckerberg might have a panic attack or faint onstage.

  • Swisher interviewed a very sweaty and awkward Zuckerberg on stage in 2010.

  • Zuckerberg's public-speaking skills and image have changed drastically over the years.

It's been almost 15 years since Mark Zuckerberg famously gave a very sweaty interview where he was asked some tough questions onstage.

It's a good reminder that Mark Zuckerberg wasn't always the calm and collected CEO known for training with MMA stars and showing off his gym gains on Instagram.

Last month, Zuckerberg was pressured to stand up and face the families of children who'd been harmed by social media companies and deliver an apology. But in Facebook's early years, the scene might have sent Zuckerberg into a panic attack — at least, according to a new book.

In an excerpt from her forthcoming book, tech reporter Kara Swisher said she was warned about Zuckerberg's anxiety at public forums by an unnamed Facebook executive.

"I remember being at our annual All Things Digital conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, California in 2010 and wondering, as sweat poured down Mark Zuckerberg's pasty and rounded face, if he was going to keel over right there at my feet," Swisher wrote in an excerpt that was published by New York Magazine. "'He has panic attacks when he's doing public speaking,' one Facebook executive had warned me years before. 'He could faint.''"

A spokesperson for Meta did not respond to a request for comment ahead of publication.

Swisher said at the time she'd wondered whether the comment had been meant to make her go easier on the Facebook cofounder during interviews. Swisher wrote that Zuckerberg had been "skittery" around her.

During Swisher's conversation with Zuckerberg in 2010, he sweated profusely as he faced questions about how Facebook handled user privacy. The CEO was so concerned about sweating at public events that some of his employees even blow-dried his armpits before big speeches, according to a book on Facebook that was published in 2020.

"I doubt this is true and if so it would have been at our communications team's request, but surely anyone who has ever worn a grey t-shirt can relate," Facebook spokesperson Liz Bourgeois told Business Insider at the time.

It's no wonder Zuckerberg has outgrown his sweaty phase. He's been practicing his public speaking skills for over a decade now and he's gone through his fair share of grilling from Congress and reporters over the years.

Read the original article on Business Insider