Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg took the stage at TechCrunch Disrupt Tuesday for his first public interview since his company's stock value was cut in half after its IPO, which "has obviously been disappointing," he said. Before we knew it, he was off the stage again. The whole thing happened so fast!
No, really: it was so, very, very fast. Zuckerberg, perhaps overly caffeinated, perhaps totally nervous, perhaps really excited, talked faster than the speed of tweets during his 30-minute interview with TechCrunch's Michael Arrington, who repeatedly asked the CEO to "unpack" what he was saying.
On the plus side, Zuckerberg managed to cram a whole lot of information into the half-hour session. Here's a run-down of what we learned from the fast-talking Facebook CEO. For what it's worth, it seemed to tickle Wall Street: Facebook's stock price was up 4 percent in after-hours trading immediately following the interview.
In The Future, Facebook Will Be Your Google
“We do a billion queries a day, and we aren’t even trying,” Zuckerberg said when asked about Google+ (a tiny humblebrag).
But competing against Google’s bread-and-butter is clearly on his mind. There’s a Facebook team in place working on making that search bar search better. “Facebook is pretty uniquely positioned to answer a lot of questions” -- questions, Zuckerberg’s implicitly saying, that today you’d normally ask fellow humans because current search engines like Google and Bing can’t even begin to answer them.
He imagines a Facebook search that will give you recommendations for local sushi restraurants or describe what it’s like to work at a company by asking friends or friends of friends in the area or at the firm. Just the kind of thing that has Google shaking in its boots.
Facebook Is So Totally Not Working On A Phone, You Guys. Promise.
Arrington grilled Zuckerberg repeatedly on the chances that Facebook would launch its own phone, but Zuck made every effort to kill the persistent rumor that Facebook wants to make a phone that you could practically see blood spatter on the stage.
“The phone just doesn’t make any sense,” Zuck said. His reasoning? Building a phone might attract some 10 to 15 million users. That "wouldn't move the needle for us," Zuckerberg said.
But when pushed a bit further, Zuck hinted at a deeper reason. “We want to build a system that’s as deeply integrated into everything people use,” he said. Read: We don’t want to alienate Apple, Microsoft, Google or anyone else who makes the systems that run on mobile phones so that they continue to play nice with Facebook.
Facebook's Biggest Mistake? HTML5! WTF!
"The biggest mistake we made as a company is betting too much on HTML5 as opposed to native," Zuckerberg said, referring to how the company built its mobile apps. Not mentioned as Facebook's biggest mistake: anything about privacy.
Moving forward, the company was "betting completely" on native apps for iOS and Android, adding that a native Android app would be coming at a future, unspecified date.
When Facebook's Stock Price Takes A Hit, So Does The Mood At Facebook
Asked how fluctuations in Facebook's stock price affect employee morale at the company, Zuckerberg offered a candid, "It doesn't help."
He added, "Facebook has not been uncontroversial in the past. It's not like this is the first up and down we've ever had...What motivates people at Facebook is building stuff they're proud of."
Zuckerberg's OK With Haters
"Personally, and this is maybe is a perverse thing, but personally I'd rather be in a cycle where people underestimate us," Zuckerberg explained. "I think it gives us good latitude to go out and make big bets."
And He's Not In It For The Fun
Asked if he's still having fun, Zuckerberg replied, "For me not about fun. It's about the mission."
Zuckerberg Lives On His Phone
"I basically live on my mobile device," Zuckerberg said. "You know the Founder's Letter in our S-1? I wrote that on my phone." Despite living on it, he made no mention of whether that's an iPhone or Android. Trying to stay friends with both Apple and Google!
Zuckerberg predicted that Facebook would make a healthy bundle off of mobile ads, noting that because of phones' small screen size, ads don't appear to the right-hand side of the newsfeed, but are directly integrated into the feed and are thus more engaging for users.
"What we are seeing already, even with the early mobile ads that we have, is that they are performing even better than the right hand column ads on desktop...There's a huge opportunity," Zuckerberg said, according to CNBC. "Mobile is a lot closer to TV than it is to desktop."
No Hoodie, No Ring
Zuckerberg wore his trademark gray t-shirt, but no trademark hoodie. And no wedding ring, though he's a newlywed who got hitched earlier this year.
"Everything I Do Breaks, But We Fix It Quickly"
Zuckerberg asked if he still codes.
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