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Jim Augustine, chief operating officer for Sue’s Tech Kitchen, shows a s’more, the end result from a 3-D printer demonstration at the C Spire event this week.

C Spire event offers windows to the future

By JACK WEATHERLY

To hear Randi Zuckerberg tell it, she has achieved her career goals in spite of herself.

Of course, it didn’t hurt that she had help early in her career from her famous brother, Mark Zuckerberg, founder and chief officer of Facebook.

But Randi really wanted to be a performer. However, that got torpedoed when a performing arts school turned her down. “I wanted to sing on Broadway,” she said in mock sorrow.

She turned to Harvard and majored in marketing, landing her dream job at the giant ad agency Ogilvy and Mather. And so her life story unfolded in an interview with Stephen Bye, president of C Spire, at the annual MVMT conference at the Jackson Convention Complex on Tuesday.

Randi Zuckerberg

Her little brother, Mark, twisted her arm and persuaded her to come guide his Silicon startup’s marketing – with a salary, and, more important, handsome stock options.

After 10 years, during which she started Facebook Live, she left and founded her own company, Zuckerberg Media.

She has written several books angled toward children and technology, Dot Complicated, Dot., and most recently, Missy President.

She hosts a weekly tech business show called Dot Complicated on SiriusXM. She has two TV shows currently on air: DOT on NBC Universal Kids about a little girl who uses tech to enhance her everyday adventures, and American Dreams on HSN, highlighting entrepreneurs around the country.

She said she started her company when she discovered the “digital divide” that denied many children access to the Internet.

“Anyone in this audience, if you haven’t had a chance to take a coding class, do it,” she said. But there are other ways to cross the divide, she said. It’s a matter of cracking the “code” and getting what you want.

Her life has of recent been in stark contrast with her brother’s. He was grilled for two days last month by Congress about lapses in Facebook data security, including that belonging to 87 million customers whose personal information was inappropriately used by Cambridge Analytica.

Randi Zuckerberg was all smiles as she was gently interviewed Tuesday.

The majority of her audience were STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) students.

One of Randi Zuckerberg’s ventures is Sue’s Tech Kitchen, a pop-up version of which was in the large hall with many other tech exhibits.

Jim Augustine, chief operating officer of Zuckerberg Media, gave a guided tour of the kitchen,

His bio on the company website says Augustine is a summa cum laude graduate of Harvard.

But he was playing the part of a joking top chef as he walked a reporter through the basics of the Tech Kitchen.

“We’re trying to give kids a little beta taste of the future,” said Augustine.

An attention grabber is the 3-D printer that produces s’mores. Then there were the naturally occurring “miracle berries” that can alter the taste buds long enough to make sour things, such as lemons and limes taste sweet.

To what end? He said that one application could be for cancer patients undergoing treatment who have a bad taste that can neutralized without resorting to candy.

And drones that could be used to in restaurants to assist in delivery of food.

Sam Pfister, who is in charge of the drones and who managed robots on Mars for NASA, said, “Robots are robots, no matter which planet they’re on.”

The plan is to start a chain of restaurants and capture a share of the market, Augustine said.

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