Facebook founder Zuckerberg visits St. Louis

ST. LOUIS – Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg made a surprise visit to St. Louis on Thursday, meeting with about a dozen local business owners to discuss how Facebook can help them improve their digital footprint while sharpening their social media skills.

One of those business owners, Blake Marggraff, learned he was chosen to meet Zuckerberg only two nights before.

“I was definitely surprised to see an email that said, ‘Hey, you’ll be speaking with Mark Zuckerberg in a couple days,’” Marggraff said.

At just 25 years of age, Marggraff is the CEO of a company called Epharmix. The business uses technology to decrease the cost of health care and make patients healthier.

Zuckerberg and the St. Louisans met in a Central West End building, a part of the Cortex area. The people were not all high-tech experts, one had founded a bakery another owned a bookstore.

“This was truly a snapshot of community leadership on the small business and start-up side of things,” Marggraff said.

Zuckerberg is launching a program called Facebook Community Boost. Facebook will work with local organizations in 30 cities, including St. Louis, to make sure the company is meeting the specific needs of the communities they invest in.

Marggraff believes St. Louis is near the top of that list.

“I think it means St. Louis is more and more on the map. And even over the past year has gone from a city with lots of ideas and high aspiration to a city that is executing and growing businesses.”

Marggraff described Zuckerberg as friendly.

“He was pensive, very kind, and genuinely interested in what everybody had to share,” he said. “He was … smart and incisive without being rough or pretentious.”

There’s been talk that Zuckerberg may run president. If Zuckerberg does, Marggraff said the Facebook creator would have his vote after Thursday’s meeting.