NEWS ANALYSIS: Had the chief face of Facebook come forward earlier, when the stock was sinking, he might have been able to save his company and its shareholders some substantial value. As it is, the stock rebounded modestly following Zuckerberg's appearance at a San Francisco tech conference on Sept. 11.
SAN FRANCISCO -- Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Sept. 11 made his first public appearance since May 19, the day his company went public in New York City and a couple days before he got married. The venue he chose was a one-on-one with TechCrunch
blog founder Michael Arrington at the TechCrunch Disrupt 2012 conference here at the Concourse at San Francisco Design Center.
Arrington, who left TechCrunch
as a full-time staffer after the company was acquired last year but still writes and stays involved in special events, led a wide-ranging discussion with Zuckerberg in which the billionaire entrepreneur showed a more contrite, human side of his personality that had not been previously displayed.
The main points:
Model of Optimistic Consistency
- Zuckerberg acknowledged that he's "disappointed" in the performance of the company's stock in its first four months of public sale, something he probably should have mentioned months ago, in order to identify with the pain of stockholders, who saw the stock drop from $38 to $19 in four months;
- Facebook knows mobile is its ticket to future growth and has plans to solve its current problems in that sector; and
- do not expect a Facebook phone anytime soon, possibly ever.
None of those items is headline news, of course, but hearing them come from Zuckerberg--who's been a model of optimistic consistency ever since he rose to IT and consumer fame a half-dozen years ago--is unusual.
"There are times when everyone in the world thinks what we're doing is awesome, and there are times when people are super-pessimistic," Zuckerberg said. "I personally would rather be in the cycle when people underestimate us. I think it gives us latitude to go out and take some big bets and do some things that excite and amaze people."
A Facebook phone is not a bet the company is willing to take, Zuckerberg said.
"I mean, we could sell 10 million, 20 million phones, and that would not even move the needle," Zuckerberg, 28, told a crammed room of fellow 20-somethings at Disrupt. "That's just not something we intend to do. Others are doing fine in that market.
"We want to build a system that's deeply integrated into every platform people use."