Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook Founder and CEO who’s had a roller coster five years, was the featured interview target of TechCrunch Founder and CEO, now “Uncrunched” blogger and head of CrunchFund, Michael Arrington on Tuesday at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2012. It was the first interview Zuckerberg gave since the Initial Public Offering (IPO), and if I’m not mistaken, the first time at a TechCrunch even since January of 2010.
Or this interview:
In an audience at the Concourse SF that was such that this blogger’s friend Jen Friel (of the blog Talk Nerdy To Me Lover.com) said it was “insane,” (Zennie62 did not apply to attend TechCrunch Disrupt for family reasons) and Arrington himself said he’s never seen a TechCrunch so crowded it was standing room only, Zuckerberg essentially held his own mini-convention, stating his case for investors to be comfortable with putting their money into Facebook again.
Recall that on the first day of the IPO, May 18th, Facebook stock opened at $38 and after a rise to $42, dropped, and to this point before Mark’s interview on Tuesday, when it went up 4 percent, it was still dropping. It was from that backdrop that Arrington opened the discussion:
Q: You went public on May 18 and the stock has lost roughly half its value.
A: Just get right into it!
Q: Would you have done anything differently on the IPO?
A: The performance of the stock has obviously been disappointing. But the commitment we made was to fulfill this mission to make the world more open and connected.
The key will be how we do with mobile. A lot of stuff has changed in six months since we’ve been in the quiet period.
Literally six months ago, we didn’t run a single ad on mobile. So people can underestimate how good mobile can be for us. It’s the main thing that’s fundamentally misunderstood. For one, there’s just more mobile users–5 billion people have cellphones in the world. Second, they’re spending more time on it. We’re already seeing people more likely to be daily active users on mobile. And those stats are before the new iOS app. And third, we can have better advertising on mobile, make more money.
Q: You make money to build great services rather than build services to make money. Do you really mean that?
A: We are a mission-driven company. In order to do this, we have to build a great team. And in order to do that, you need people to know they can make a bunch of money. So we need a business model to make a lot of money.
Building a mission and building a business go hand in hand. The primary thing that excites me is the mission. But we have always had a healthy understanding that we need to do both.
Overall, Mark Zuckerberg was more comfortable and less combative than he had been in past interviews. Maybe that’s what a $104 billion market cap gets you. But whatever the case, he seems more relaxed than in the past.
Questions Not Answered
While there was talk about mobile apps and user engagement, Michael didn’t nail home the real question of how Facebook will make money from ads in the future. And on the matter of employee morale, Mark said something that brought up a red flag for me: Facebook doesn’t have an incentive pay program. And this from a person in Zuckerberg who favors merit pay for teachers. Mark seems to think that the best kind of incentive is the stock shares that are given. If the shares go up, then that is your incentive pay. This blogger thinks a straight-out incentive compensation plan that’s not tied to stock performance is the best way to go. This way employees are somewhat insulated from management’s good or bad relationship with Wall Street.
A Peek Inside
I think what many are responding favorably to is not so much the substance of Zuckerberg’s statements, but that he gave us a rare peek inside how Facebook works…
Clearly we’ve had a bunch of missteps there. The biggest mistake we made as a company was betting too much on HTML5, because it’s just not there yet. We went for this approach, an internal framework called Faceweb. We just couldn’t translate it to mobile with the quality we wanted.
…Agree or disagree with its direction, what is clear is that Zuckerberg has a clear handle on Facebook’s problems and a clear path toward their resolution. But what’s still not clear is how all of this will play out for advertisers and gamers. The open question of what Facebook will do with Zynga is still just that.
For the full text Mark Zuckerberg interview visit Forbes: http://www.forbes.com/sites/roberthof/2012/09/11/mark-zuckerberg-we-burnt-two-years-betting-on-mobile-web-vs-apps/