Q&A With Facebook’s Matt Jacobson

The tech giant’s head of market development (and employee number eight) talks tech and style at his Desert Hot Springs home.

Matt Jacobson embodies “Grown Man Style,” a movement he perpetuates with a blog of the same name. Yet Matt is better known as the first person Facebook hired to market and monetize the social network.

His successful career has put him front-and-center with other California tastemakers, from entertainment wunderkinds to iconic architects. His latest role on the Instagram sales and marketing team seems a natural fit, given his equal appreciation for design and technology.

He sat down with us at his Desert Hot Springs vacation home to discuss some of his current passions, including native pottery, Ray Kappe and Leica cameras.

 

Great to see you, Matt. How are things at Facebook?
Matt Jacobson: I feel incredibly fortunate to have been on this amazing journey since 2005. Having global impact while having fun with people who inspire you to be the best you can be is very special.

GS: You are currently a curator of things creative, visual, brand, and your Grown Man Style blog (grownmanstyle.com) has become a touchstone for men’s fashion, art, watches and photography. How have you been able to combine your personal interests with your professional responsibilities?

MJ: I have been working with the Instagram team since last year, and the company is one of the few places where art and technology intersect. In terms of my personal style, when I joined Facebook I was too old to wear ironic T-shirts, so for the past 8½ years I’ve been one of the only suit-and-tie guys in the Valley. My friend Michael Burns, vice chairman at Lionsgate pictures, told me that with a “well-tailored suit and a clipboard” you can “get in anywhere,” and it’s true. I get much better service when I’m wearing a tie than when I’m not.

GS: Instagram has a huge and passionate following of people taking and posting artistic photos with their smartphones. You also have a passion for photography, particularly with vintage Leica rangefinders. Is it hard to rationalize the two very different formats?

MJ: Not at all, and it’s been said, “The best camera is the one that you have with you.” Like hundreds of millions of people globally, my phone is always handy, and I use the camera all the time. Using a manual Leica is a thoughtful meditation that’s cathartic but isn’t for every instance. I was encouraged to get a Leica when my twin daughters were born in 1995, and I’ve never taken a picture of them with any other brand of camera. I was slow to move from film to digital, but the new Leica M240 and Monochrom cameras are simply amazing. I’ve gotten to know Leica executives over the years, and the new Leica boutique in West Hollywood has become a regular stop and sanctuary for me. I’ve been lucky enough to get to write about Leica products for The Hollywood Reporter and GQ.

 

GS: Your wife, Kristopher Dukes, has her own distinct personal style and home design aesthetic. How would you describe the synergy between the two of you?

MJ: I’m blessed to have a partner in Kris who shares an eccentric taste in fashion, design, architecture and food. She has been both a catalyst and inspiration in our passion for architecture. Where I have been hesitant, she’s been confident and encouraged me to push forward. And when my design instincts were “off” on a project, she’s reeled me back in.

GS: Speaking of great taste, your Desert Hot Springs home is spectacular. Were you familiar with Marmol Radziner’s work and this contemporary prefab icon when you purchased it?

MJ: We had seen this amazing home in photos since it was under construction, and in the thousands of editorial and advertising stories that have been published since it was built in 2005. We appreciate desert quirkiness, and as Palm Springs becomes more homogeneous, we really like Desert Hot Springs and beyond. Joshua Tree is red hot internationally with artists and designers. It feels like east of Highway 10 is the next frontier.

GS: This isn’t the only architecturally significant home you own. You recently restored a Ray Kappe home on the beach with his blessing. How was it working with a design genius?

MJ: Ray and Shelly have become great friends since we met on the Scheimer house restoration. Kristopher and Ray became close collaborators, and we are so thankful for his support and friendship. Ray’s body of work and his SCI-Arc legacy has always been revered by architects, and the appreciation of his uniquely contextual Southern California design has become part of the international design zeitgeist. The Kappes always try and make the trip to Modernism Week and stay with us in the desert house.

GS: How was Modernism Week this year?

MJ: We love the tribal nature of collectors, and the annual Palm Springs Modernism Show is a must-do event for us. We were at Rin Tanaka’s vintage denim show in LA earlier in the month, and the passion of collectors and their expertise is inspiring. I think this year’s Modernism Show was one of the best curated and styled that we have attended. We are partial to California design, so we are drawn to early organic Architectural Pottery pieces, which were designed and made in my hometown of Manhattan Beach, as well as the discovered, sourced and offered pieces that LA’s Gerard O’Brien and his store Reform brought to this year’s show.

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