Zuck's Older Sis Talks Start-Ups, Escaping Tech, And...Chanel?



randi There's no denying that sharing a last name with Silicon Valley's It Man Mark Zuckerberg can have its drawbacks, but older sis Randi Zuckerberg has carved her own path in this town — first at Facebook and then with the launch of her own media company, Zuckerberg Media. If that weren't enough, she's also the editor-in-chief of her own website and newsletter, Dot Complicated, which helps readers find some normalcy in their digital-driven lives. Plus, she emerged from the Bravo series Start-Ups: Silicon Valley backlash with quiet composure (weathering adversity must run in the family!).

We were lucky enough to catch up with the media mogul at the Calypso St. Barth opening soirée in Palo Alto, where Randi joined power-pinner Christine Martinez in a panel discussion on our tech-obsessed times. Among the breezy-beautiful oasis that is Calypso, we found a spot to chat with Randi about "digital Sabbaths," styling a maxi dress, and....Chanel?!

How do you take a break from the fast-paced nature of tech? Do you have any favorite places to escape to?
"I actually just returned from a month in Japan with my family! It was always on our bucket list to spend time in Tokyo, and I just think it's one of the most vibrant cities. Finally, my husband and I looked at each other and were like, 'Our lives are not getting any less complicated, so let's just do it!' And, I purposely didn't buy an international data plan for my phone, because I really wanted to see if I could do a month off the grid. It was super challenging at first — I felt so addicted to my email and my phone is my only camera. But, after a few days, it felt so good to be so in the moment with my family in this new country, and nothing was so pressing that it had to be dealt with right then!"

Your book Dot Complicated is due to come out this fall. What do you think are some of the best things we can do to find balance and stay grounded in these crazy times?
"Have you noticed how people these days watch concerts through their phones? Like, what is that? You are watching live through your cell phone! I think technology, when it's used well, is amazing — but I think there is this fine point between owning technology, and letting it own you. Especially after going to Japan, my husband and I agreed that we would do a digital Sabbath every weekend, where for five to six hours we just put away all of our devices and go do an activity where we're unreachable to the outside world."

"If we see something that would have made a beautiful Instagram, we can just be like, okay, let's just store it in our memories. What a novel idea, we can literally just remember how awesome it is!"

What's your impression of style in the Bay Area versus NYC?
"I think we get a horrible rap, but you are starting to see so many more stylish women in tech, like Marissa Mayer and Sheryl Sandberg, and all of these fabulous women in Chanel. I think that maybe a few years ago, a lot of women in tech felt like they had to fit in with the guys and dress like them, but now that you're seeing so many more female entrepreneurs, they can embrace both their leadership and their feminine sides!"

Have you read Sheryl Sandberg's book Lean In? What did you take away from it?
"I haven't yet! It's sitting on my bedside table, and I'm so excited to read it. I had the good fortune of working closely with Sheryl at Facebook, and so I feel like I actually got to hear a lot of those messages firsthand. Regarding women in tech, I think it's getting a lot better. Especially here in the Bay Area, women are so supportive of each other. I think in other cities, there can be a more competitive feeling, but out here, it's much more collaborative."

Your Bravo show Start-Ups: Silicon Valley received quite the backlash after its release. What are your thoughts on all of the feedback?
"I think people were definitely surprised that I went from working at Facebook to working with an ‘older’ media, so to speak, but the point is that TV is still a big cultural driver of influence, and had that show launched on Youtube, no one would have cared. I think if you want to be in the media world, you have to be producing or creating for TV right now, because it's really the only way to have content noticed. Career-wise, it was a great move, but I'm sure that people here are confused why one of 'their people' would go through television."

What are some of your favorite hangout spots in the Bay Area?
"My most favorite place to hangout is Bumble in Los Altos! That place has got me so excited about the neighborhood, and I go all the time with my son. I love that they have organic food and it feels so homey. It's also a total scene on the weekend for Sunday brunch — I love it!"

Do you have your eye on any particular summer wardrobe staples?
I'm addicted to maxi dresses right now. I feel like it's the perfect staple, because you can throw a blazer over it and be super professional, and then throw on heels and a statement necklace for a night out. I have also been getting into colored pants — and as a New Yorker, trust me when I say it's hard to introduce color into my wardrobe. But, being in California, I'm really trying to wear more of it.

Photo: Via Zuckerberg Media