(CNN) – Mark Zuckerberg, the co-founder and CEO of Facebook, is making his way across the country.
In January, he announced his goal for 2017 is to visit and meet with people in all 50 states to find out how people are “living, working and thinking about the future.” But some analysts point out his U.S. tour feels a bit like a campaign trail.
Any politician would be proud of these optics. In the last 10 days, Zuckerberg visited a ford plant in Michigan, dropped in for dinner with an Ohio family of Trump-voter, and hosted a live car chat with the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg.
Zuckerberg says this is part of a personal challenge to visit all 50 states; others have speculated he’s test-driving a new career.
Steven Levy, Editor-in-Chief of Backchannel, said, “It is strikingly similar to what a politician might do on a listening tour.”
Levy is writing a book about Facebook – and has met Mark Zuckerberg multiple times. He says this probably isn’t what it looks like. “If you’re a billionaire running arguably the most powerful company in the world, you’re on a mission you think is good for the world, what would you have to gain by being in a position that even Donald Trump finds difficult.”
And as Donald Trump marked his 100th day in office, Zuckerberg was in Dayton, Ohio, meeting those affected by the area’s opioid crisis.
Lori Erion, founder of Families of Addiction, was sitting next to him. “I think he just got really emotional and touched by what he was hearing, and really just got up and walked around for a little bit and then came back and sit down, and then he was fine.”
A day earlier, Fiana Arbab – a Muslim student – had also sat next to Zuckerberg in Dearborn, Michigan. She said, “My friend, she had to run to a final exam and when Zuckerberg found out he immediately was like no, no, stop everything and I will call you later. And literally called her and asked her how her final went and they finished up their conversation.”
If Zuckerberg were to serve in government – an ambition he has denied – it would trigger a conflict of interest. In a regulatory filing last year, Facebook said if he left the company he would lose his majority control, except if he was leaving to serve in government.
Still, for the 32-year old, that decision may be some way down the road.
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