Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Washington Post CEO Don Graham Mentor Each Other

Mark Zuckerberg Don Graham Split - H 2012
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Mark Zuckerberg Don Graham Split - H 2012

Despite a 39-year age gap, the two have helped each other with advice, and Graham even considered making an investment in the social network early on.

NEW YORK - At 66, Washington Post Co. CEO Donald Graham may be 39 years older than Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and come from a much more traditional media background, but the two executives have been mentoring and advising each other over the years, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The two were introduced in 2005 by one of Zuckerberg's Harvard college friends who is the daughter of a Washington Post executive, according to the paper.

Through their interaction and exchange, Zuckerberg's views on social media and the sharing of news have started to influence the Washington Post Co., owner of the Washington Post newspaper, a handful of TV stations and the Kaplan educational services business, among other things. For example, he helped Graham with input on online initiatives that try to tap into Facebook and other social media sites, the Journal said.

On the other hand, Graham, who has been sitting on the board of Facebook since 2009, has shared his experience with the head of the social network that is looking to go public this year, the Journal said. For example, Zuckerberg a few years ago spent several days shadowing Graham to learn about life as a CEO.

"Don will have ideas and questions that he'll want to bounce off Mark and similarly Mark takes counsel from Don," one source close to the Graham family told the Journal. "They have a very close relationship that focuses on business issues and dilemmas."

Asked about Zuckerberg and Graham's long-time friend Warren Buffett, Graham told the paper: "Warren is unique" and has made an "incalculable difference" to him over the years. "Mark is an adviser in different ways."

Graham originally even tried to make a venture investment in Facebook, but another party offered Zuckerberg more money, the Journal said.

Graham has expanded his technology contacts beyond Facebook though, with Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos among his Silicon Valley contacts, according to the paper. In March, Graham even plans to fly some of his managers to a meeting with tech thinkers and executives, it said.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai