Mark Zuckerberg spoke to Techcrunch's Michael Arrington this week in a highly anticipated fireside chat for the first time after Facebook's IPO (NASDAQ:FB) in May. Merely six months later, it is no news that Facebook's stock has not been doing well. Arguably the most over-hyped and under-delivered market event in the past year, the Facebook IPO has disappointed many stakeholders.
Peter Thiel, the company's first major investor, has sold 20 million shares . Dustin Moskovitz, Facebook co-founder, has also sold 7.5 million shares since August. So, is there light at the end the tunnel? Zuckerberg tried to answer that at Techcrunch Disrupt.
It is awesome to hear that since the interview, Facebook stock has gone up 3.1%. But beyond obsessing over short-term fluctuations in the stock price, there were a number of clear messages embedded in what Zuckerberg said today.
Until recently, Facebook has not realized the huge potential of mobile. With that, the company had also not recognized that its mobile platform was deeply flawed. In what Zuckerberg calls "the biggest strategic mistake," he admits that Facebook should have opted to use native applications rather than the slower HTML5. It has long been known that Facebook's earlier mobile apps, especially for iOS devices, were pretty crappy and often crashed.
However, now that people are consuming twice as many feed stories on iOS since Facebook updated its app, Zuckerberg seems optimistic about the future of Facebook mobile. In a world where people are increasingly opting to use their mobile phones while on-the-go, Zuckerberg believes that Facebook is strategically positioned to monetize and grow from that.
B.J. Fogg, a Stanford researcher, has long known this. He has made the point that the mobile phone, by being location-specific, contextual, timely and immediate, is the greatest persuasive technology device ever invented. For advertisers, this means they could expect a lot of innovation in the way Facebook uses mobile to market their products using different censors such as location, likes, check-ins, etc... Zuckerberg clearly recognizes that a big part of the future of the web is in mobile, and he wants to be on the forefront of that. The new app is a step in the right direction, but there definitely needs to be a more coherent monetization model for his vision to scale.
Beyond mobile, Zuckerberg and his team are exploring a number of frontiers to potentially be dive into. The one he highlighted most was the search engine market. Facebook has teams working on building a new kind of search engine, one that is able to "answer the questions people have" using the enormous amount of data it has on people individually and as groups. The search space is one that definitely needs disrupting, and Zuckerberg believes he is well-positioned to do it.
The bottom line is that Zuckerberg fully knows that "building a mission and building a business go hand-in-hand." Even though the business part of the equation has not been performing well, the vision of the company is set to scale and make up for the lag.
Through the IPO, Facebook has maximized the cash that is available to it. Although the company has not been managing the stock, it has been managing its vision and goals which it had been very open and honest about. Whether or not this has pissed off investors is a different story, but what is clear is that Facebook has allotted a large amount of money in order to better implement its vision, and can only hope that the stock price follows suit in the future.
Watch the full interview on Techcrunch: http://tcrn.ch/QDLTfo
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