When it comes to getting in on the ground floor, Randi Zuckerberg knows a thing or two. As one of the original 10 employees of Facebook, Randi Zuckerberg developed and led groundbreaking marketing strategies, forever changing the way people experience world events, culture, media and entertainment. In her six years as the marketing director for Facebook, Randi used her platforms to bring celebrities, massive world events, major entertainment happenings and political events into anyone and everyone’s social circles, all the while breaking down barriers that had long since denied the general public direct access to their own policy makers, public figures, entertainers, idols and heroes.
At the top of her game in August 2011, Randi’s work at Facebook had been nominated for an Emmy, her project Facebook Live–Facebook’s official live video streaming channel–was being utilized by everyone from Katy Perry to President Obama, and she had just given birth to a baby boy. Randi– yes, she is in fact the older sister of Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg–took the ultimate risk and left Facebook to fill what she saw as a glaring hole in her industry.
“My six years at Facebook were amazing,” Randi said. “I feel extremely lucky and grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of one of the most important companies and technologies in the world.”
Yet she had to scratch an intensifying entrepreneurial itch.
“I decided to leave because I had the itch to start my own company,” she said. “I believe in leaving when you are on top and taking risks when people least expect it. While I was out on maternity leave with my first child, I decided that [time] was now.”
And just like that, R to Z Studio was born.
R to Z Studio aims to connect new and traditional media in innovative ways. The agency counts major companies like Cirque du Soleil and social commerce monster BeachMint as clients, despite the fact that the social marketing and production agency hasn’t officially launched.
The company created a series of behind the scenes videos for Cirque du Soleil during Cirque Week. The videos were unlocked once users shared them with a specified number of people in their social networks.
On super online shopping day Cyber Monday, R to Z helped shopping conglomerate BeachMint create an interactive shopping experience by live streaming Facebook videos. Users could watch celebrities Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen for StyleMint, Kate Bosworth for JewelMint and Rachel Bilson for ShoeMint introduce products for the respective sites. Shoppers could buy products as they were featured and watch the inventory dwindle in real time. It is these kinds of interactions between social media and traditional media, intertwined to capture ‘social moments,’ that R to Z is all about.
“I had the opportunity to work with many of the top media and entertainment companies in the world while I was at Facebook, and I was struck with how early we are in combining traditional and new media,” Randi said. “As social media has grown, so have the opportunities to rethink video and broadcasting so that viewers can participate.” In short, R to Z focuses on what they call ‘social moments.’
“These are the moments in time when people want to come together around a world event, holiday, time of the year or even a common interest,” Randi said. “It’s during those times that brands and media companies can create a shared experience in social media for people to come together and participate.” Perhaps leaving the wildly successful Facebook was a risk that few would take, but Zuckerberg is no stranger to going against the grain. At 29, she graduated from Harvard with a degree in psychology, but blazed her own path, finding ways to fulfill her personal interests while meeting the needs of her employers.
“I was always fascinated by the intersection of psychology and business, how people connect with and are influenced by the people around them,” Randi said.
Over the years, she has stayed true to this passion and consistently pushed the envelope—finding new ways to connect with people while bettering the marketing strategies of the companies she touched along the way. This way of thinking led her to the founding of her company, R to Z Stuidos.
And though her brother started the social network that now defines a generation, Randi began her ascent up the marketing ladder long before Facebook existed, in a humble entry-level position at Forbes, then working as an account executive at marketing giant Ogilvy & Mather—experiences that she credits as a sound foundation for everything she’s done since.
It’s yet to be determined whether Randi’s work at Facebook will outshine her incredibly bright future prospects.
“I remember my early days at Facebook when we had to almost beg politicians to try using it for their campaigns,” Randi said. “Times have changed, and for 2012 it’s clear that elections will be won and lost based on how well candidates use social media.”
Despite her newest entrepreneurial pursuits, Randi maintains her loyalty to Facebook.
“Working at Facebook was a life-changing experience,” she said. “When I joined, I was one of only three non-engineering employees. I was one of only 10 people, period. Building an amazing consumer marketing team was my biggest accomplishment. I spent my last couple of years leading marketing, and together we helped bring major celebrities, world events like the Olympics, award shows like the Golden Globes and politicians and media companies onto Facebook with more meaningful social integration. For example, with the 2010 election, we worked with ABC News on broadcast segments that incorporated opinions and real-time sentiments and data from Facebook, and we were nominated for an Emmy as a result.”
And while it’s hard to remember life before Facebook, or even the far simpler prototype of the social network, we think R to Z is one to watch. For the under-30-set, it’s fair to say Randi blows the competition out of the water, with a laundry list of accomplishments, motherhood, a fledgling business, even a gig moonlighting as a vocalist for Silicon Valley band feedbomb. It’s hard to believe that Zuckerberg is able to balance it all.
“First of all, I never think I get the balance right but I know this is a question facing almost every professional mother,” she said. “Last month, I tweeted about this topic and received more responses than for anything I’ve tweeted in years. My tweet was, ‘The entrepreneur’s dilemma: Maintaining friendships. Building a great company. Spending time w/family. Staying fit. Getting sleep. Pick 3.’”