The Untold Truth Of Mark Zuckerberg's Sisters

Making a name for yourself can be tricky when your self-made billionaire brother is one of the most famous CEOs in the world, but Mark Zuckerberg's siblings have never been content to live in his shadow. According to New York magazine, Mark is the only son of dentist Ed Zuckerberg (who was known as "Painless Dr. Z" in Dobbs Ferry, the New York village where the Zuckerberg kids grew up) and licensed psychiatrist Karen Kempner. The pair met on a blind date during their college days and married in 1979, three years before they welcomed Mark's older sister, Randi, into the world. The future Facebook founder followed, and two more girls (Donna and Arielle) would soon double the clan. 

None of the Zuckerberg sisters have had Mark-levels of success when it comes to their professional endeavors, but all three are noteworthy in their respective fields. Unsurprisingly, two of the three Zuckerberg sisters work in tech. Like Mark, they inherited their love of technology from their dad, who paid $10,000 for an IBM XT and all the accessories back when personal computers weren't really a thing. "My lesson learned was not to be afraid to dabble in technology early," Ed said. "Not to be one of those guys stuck waiting." 

His ethos rubbed off on his son and it paid off big time, but Ed and Karen are equally proud of their three daughters. Let's dig into the untold truth of Mark Zuckerberg's sisters.

Randi Zuckerberg was one of Facebook's first employees

Randi Zuckerberg was an early employee of Facebook, and when we say early, we mean early. Mark Zuckerberg's oldest sister was 22 and "living [her] best life" in New York when she got a call from her baby bro about some new platform he was working on out in California. That platform would go on to change the way we communicate forever, but Randi wasn't to know that and almost turned Mark's job offer down. 

"Mark was always working on these projects ... our entire childhood [was] just one project to the next," Randi told CNN Business in 2019. "Facebook was so early, who was I to think that that was going to be the thing that stuck?"

Mark told her that if she just came to California and saw what he was working on with her own eyes, she would change her mind, and she did. Randi agreed to become Mark's director of market development when she saw the huge potential that Facebook had. She joined the team at a "super early stage," back when her brother was still working with Sean Parker, who had previously co-created peer-to-peer music sharing platform Napster, and Dustin Moskovitz, Mark's Harvard roomie and a Facebook co-founder. "It was just these guys in this house," Randi recalled. "I fell in love with their passion and what they were building ... they really talked even at that stage like they were going to change the world."

Mark Zuckerberg and his sisters created their own Star Wars parody film

Mark wasn't the only Zuckerberg kid who liked a good project growing up. During her in-depth interview with CNN Business, Randi Zuckerberg revealed that she and her siblings once made their own version of the Star Wars trilogy from scratch. 

"We were always making these very creative projects, which we thought were masterpieces at the time," Randi told host Laurie Segall. "... The one that I still have sitting on my bookshelf to this day is a video called the Star Wars Sillogy." Randi took on the bulk of the work (she wrote, directed, and filmed the entire project), giving Mark time to concentrate on his acting — the future Facebook founder starred as Mark Hamill's Luke Skywalker in the parody film. "His voice hadn't even changed yet," Randi said of her brother. "Our two little sisters, who were too young to have lines, just sat in a garbage can and beeped and walked around ... We were so proud. We worked on it for weeks, if not months. So, I think that really embodies what the spirit was in our household." 

Mark hasn't done much acting since then (he voiced himself in a 2010 episode of The Simpsons), but Randi's passion for producing her own content never faded. In 2016, she turned her children's book Dot. into a cartoon series, hoping that the eponymous character (a tech-savvy eight-year-old) would inspire other young girls to go into technology.

Randi Zuckerberg has been on Broadway

Mark Zuckerberg may have been the lead in the Star Wars fan film that he and his sisters created as kids, but Randi Zuckerberg's the one who went on to star on Broadway. In 2014, the oldest Zuckerberg sister was contacted by producers from Rock of Ages after they saw a parody music video she had shot at Facebook HQ. She was offered a three-week guest stint in the show, a real bucket list moment for her. 

"As a young girl, I was a complete musical theater nerd," Randi told Forbes. "My number one dream in life was to sing on Broadway." Her stage debut was incredibly important to her, and she made sure her brother knew that — according to Randi, Mark actually cut a meeting with President Obama short so he wouldn't miss her first show. The Facebook billionaire reportedly had a helicopter drop him right next to the theater.

When she spoke to CNN Business about achieving her lifelong ambition of singing on Broadway, Randi said that nobody in her life really took her dream seriously, and neither did the media. She hit out at the press for creating a narrative in which Mark was "this genius who's building important things" while Randi was simply "the silly sister who likes to sing." Proving the naysayers wrong felt like "sweet victory" to Randi, who has remained involved with the theater since. She produced three shows in 2019, including a revival of Oklahoma.

Mark Zuckerberg's sister Randi reacts to the Facebook Live controversy

Randi Zuckerberg left Facebook to concentrate on her own business ventures in 2011. She made a huge impact during her time with the company, and she kept close ties with it after moving on, continuing to use the "royal we" when discussing Facebook. Perhaps her biggest legacy is that she was instrumental in the early development of Facebook Live, a function that has been at the center of multiple controversies. Randi told CNN Business that she was "young and idealistic" at the time and wasn't thinking about the potential for people to live stream crimes. "It really wasn't until years later, with a lot that I see going on in the world," she said, "that I woke up and was like, 'Oh my gosh, we've given a voice to everyone.'"

Rapes, suicides, and even murders have been streamed live on Facebook since the function was introduced, raising some big questions for the company. To put it lightly, is it worth giving everyone a voice when some people don't have anything nice to say? "I knew that that was going to be something that was going to really be an issue for the company for a long time," Randi explained. "One of the stances that we have always taken at Facebook ... is that, it is worth it to give the voice to everyone."

Arielle Zuckerberg's vision of the future is like a sci-fi movie

Mark Zuckerberg's youngest sister, Arielle, is also in the tech game. She graduated from Claremont McKenna College and went on to build a reputation in the venture world (she was named on the Forbes "30 Under 30 Venture Capital" 2019 list), becoming a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and later at Coutue Management, a tech sector hedge fund. Arielle has made appearances at some of the world's biggest startup events along the way, including a memorable presentation at Slush 2016. In a talk called "Overcoming Human Limitations through Emerging Technologies," the youngest Zuckerberg sibling outlined her prediction for the future of humankind, and it sounded like something from a Hollywood sci-fi flick.

"We are in a post-evolution era," Arielle said. "Natural selection has run its course, and if you don't believe me, ask your vegan friends. I believe that we are moving towards a transhumanist future, and we always have been. A future in which science and technology will ... increase human capacity in the mental, physical, and reproductive realms." According to Arielle, things like Iron Man's AI assistant J.A.R.V.I.S. could be a reality before too long, and she believes that at some stage people will start choosing to replace their limbs with robotic ones — even if their real ones are in working order. "People who can afford these enhancements will hugely benefit," she said, "and people who can't afford them will be left behind."

Mark Zuckerberg's sister Arielle lashed out at Donald Trump after his election victory

In November 2019, it was revealed that Mark Zuckerberg had sat down for two secret dinners with President Trump; one at Zuckerberg's home in California, the other at the White House. According to New York magazine, there was plenty of "cozying up" between the Facebook CEO and the POTUS back when Barack Obama was in the Oval Office, so did these secret meetings with Donald Trump mark a political shift for the tech billionaire? The way The Guardian tells it, Mark's only concern when it comes to politicians is how their policies will affect his company, but his youngest sister certainly isn't afraid to take sides, not when the industry she loves is under threat.

When she spoke with CNN Business after Trump's election win in 2016, Arielle Zuckerberg said that the result was "disappointing and heartbreaking," and expressed concern over how it might impact Silicon Valley going forward. She told host Laurie Segall that she worried about female, Muslim, and other minority entrepreneurs not feeling welcome in the world's tech capital: "I feel like it could highly discourage them from starting a company, because they might not feel like America is supporting them." Arielle pointed out that Steve Jobs' father was a Syrian refugee, before explaining why she took Hillary Clinton's defeat so personally. "[It's] who she lost to," the venture capitalist said. "Someone who's made so many sexist comments [and has] been so demeaning to women."

Donna Zuckerberg wrote a book about the alt-right

Mark Zuckerberg's second youngest sister, Donna Zuckerberg, is also based in Silicon Valley — though unlike her siblings, she isn't in the tech game. Donna graduated from Princeton University with a degree is Classics in 2014, and the following year, she started her online journal, Eidolon, which has developed into a platform for scholarly writing about Greek and Roman literature. 

During her research, she discovered that certain sections of the internet were commandeering classic texts and using them to justify dated world views, but at the time, nobody wanted to listen. That all changed when Donald Trump came to power. "Everything turned on a dime," Donna told Princeton Alumni Weekly. "Suddenly, everyone was talking about the alt-right."

In 2018, Donna became a published author, putting everything she had discovered about the misappropriation of classic European literature into a book called Not All Dead White Men: Classics and Misogyny in the Digital Age. "There are online communities that exist under the umbrella of what we know as the Red Pill, which are men connected by common resentments against women, immigrants, [and] people of [color]," she told The Guardian. The married mother-of-two said that she was surprised by "the extent to which they are using ancient Greek and Roman figures and texts to prop up an ideal of white masculinity," adding that the so-called "manosphere" worships a model that "erases much of the social progress that has been made in the last 2,000 years."

Mark Zuckerberg's sister Donna blames social media for a rise in misogyny

Donna Zuckerberg believes that social media has allowed so-called Red Pillers (named after the now-quarantined subreddit of the same name) to "[elevate] misogyny to entirely new levels of violence and virulence," and when it comes to social media, Facebook is "the biggest of them all." Donna has refused to directly call her brother out for allowing misogynist groups to operate on his platform (she wouldn't be drawn when The Guardian asked her if she had ever "taken her brother to task" over the issue), but she has no doubt that social media has allowed these groups to thrive: "It has created the opportunity for men with anti-feminist ideas to broadcast their views to more people than ever before — and to spread conspiracy theories, lies and misinformation."

Facebook isn't exactly the epicenter of the alt-right online, but the kind of conspiracy theories, lies, and misinformation that Donna talks about circulate on the platform every day, something she can't deny. "Facebook obviously is part of it," Donna admitted in an interview with Quartz. According to her, Facebook is very much aware of the "liberal and conservative bubble issue" and is actively taking steps to address it. "For the most part I don't see Facebook as that crucial to Red Pill social media use, though obviously there are Facebook groups and communities that are part of the Red Pill," she said, adding, "I'm sorry, this is very fraught ground for me."

Mark Zuckerberg and his sisters almost invested in a McDonald's franchise

Imagine a world in which Mark Zuckerberg wasn't the CEO of Facebook, but the boss of a McDonald's restaurant. Believe it or not, that was almost the case. During her candid interview with CNN Business, the tech mogul's older sister revealed that all of the Zuckerberg siblings got the same proposition from their father when they reached college age. "[He] offered each of us the option of going to college or investing in a franchise and running it," Randi Zuckerberg told Laurie Segall. "He was like, 'Do you want to go to college, or do you want to buy a McDonald's franchise?' ... I actually think my parents were very progressive, thinking about entrepreneurship a long time ago."

All four Zuckerberg kids ultimately opted to go to college over running their own McDonald's, though not all of them finished. Mark famously dropped out of Harvard to concentrate on Facebook full time, ditching the prestigious university. According to Randi, their parents were surprisingly calm when he broke the news to them. "Most other traditional Jewish parents would have panicked when Mark said he was starting a company," she said. "I think they were like, 'Okay, you probably should have taken the McDonald's franchise money if you wanted a business. But, okay, this might be a second good choice.'" It was, indeed — Mark Zuckerberg has been ranked among the world's richest people for a number of years now.

What do Mark Zuckerberg's sisters think about The Social Network?

In 2009, a book named The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, a Tale of Sex, Money, Genius, and Betrayal was published, chronicling the early days of the company. As you probably worked out from the title, the author did not seek Mark Zuckerberg's permission. "Ben Mezrich clearly aspires to be the Jackie Collins or Danielle Steele of Silicon Valley," Facebook spokesman Elliot Schrage told the Observer (via The Guardian). "In fact his own publisher put it best: 'The book isn't reportage. It's big juicy fun.' We particularly agree with the first part of that." That was Facebook's reaction to the book, so you can imagine how the company felt about it being adapted into a Hollywood movie.

Speaking to CNN Business, Randi Zuckerburg revealed that she has some "raw, mixed emotions" about The Social Network and the way the Oscar-winning film portrayed her brother. "I think they just got a lot of the intentions wrong," the former Facebook marketing pro said. According to Randi, David Fincher's movie made Mark out to be someone who was only interested in getting girls and didn't care about anyone else, which she thought was very "unfair." "It's like when someone bullies your sibling on the playground, and you're like, 'Wait, I'm allowed to bully my sibling but nobody else can!'" Mark's younger sisters have been less vocal, though Arielle did appear to mock the movie with a parody poster prior to its release.

Is the Zuckerberg name a blessing or a curse?

What's it really like being Mark Zuckerberg's sister? It's a question that Randi, Donna, and Arielle have no doubt been asked on countless occasions, but the answer isn't a simple one. According to Donna, the Zuckerbergs have always been a "tight-knit" family, but what's become clear over the years is that Mark's success has made it harder for his sisters to be considered on their own merits. In one YouTube interview, Arielle revealed that her last name led to some "frustrating" moments early in her tech career: "What people associate with ... the name Zuckerberg, to be totally blunt, is money, access of capital, [and] access to connections."

Randi is the most well-known and arguably the most successful Zuckerberg sister, and even though she credits Mark with opening doors for her, she admits that being related to him comes with some drawbacks. "On the glass half full side, what he's done is so incredible," she told HuffPost. "Because of him, the Zuckerberg name carries so much weight in the world of social media and innovation ... On the other hand, I think I have a lot to prove. I think that there's a really high bar that's set for the Zuckerberg name, probably higher than if I was just going out on my own to begin with."

Chances are they'll never eclipse their billionaire bro, but the Zuckerberg sisters will continue to blaze their own individual trails regardless.