Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has offered a frank appraisal of his company’s performance in his first interview since the social network’s turbulent stock launch in May.
Speaking at the Tech Crunch Disrupt event in San Francisco this week, Zuckerberg was uncharacteristically contrite, admitting that Facebook’s major problem was focusing on its HTML5 platform for the web, rather than enhancing its mobile experience. Facebook’s apps have attracted widespread criticism – firstly from users’ perspectives, for being poorly designed; and secondly from the business side for having poor advertising capabilities.
Zuckerberg pledged that correcting these shortfalls would now be his priority, given the high growth potential as consumer engagement with handsets starts to outstrip computers. However, he dispelled widely circulated rumours of a physical, “Facebook phone” by explaining that this was incompatible with the company’s desire to reach as many people as possible. More important, said Zuckerberg, was to be available across all networks, regardless of phone type. He also outlined plans to expand Facebook’s search function, and praised the recently acquired Instagram.
The billionaire’s primary aim was to calm worries about the company, after its stock dwindled to half of its $38 launch value. A recent exodus of four senior executives, and last month’s decision from early “angel investor” Peter Thiel to sell a large percentage of his shares, have not helped the company’s image.
With Facebook stock rallying by 2% in the after-hours trading that followed his appearance, Zuckerberg’s comments seem to have had the desired effect. The tycoon sensibly claimed that he hadn’t got too excited when things were going well, and was not panicking now either – reiterating that his is on a long-term “mission”. For such a young CEO, it appears to have been a smart and mature move. However, it remains to be seen if this is the start of an extensive recovery, or a temporary sticking plaster for the beleaguered firm.
Image courtesy of Guillaume Paumier / Wikimedia Commons, CC-BY-3.0