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Zuckerberg Debunks 3 Facebook Myths

In his first public appearance since the IPO, Facebook's founder tried to correct the record--but he also let slip where the company is headed next.
TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington interviews Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg onstage at the 2012 TechCrunch Disrupt conference.
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TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington pulled no punches in an interview with Mark Zuckerberg on Tuesday at the Disrupt conference in San Francisco.

"So, the stock has lost half its value since the IPO," Arrington said.

"Just get right into it!" Zuck replied.

The interview was Zuckerberg's first public appearance since the company went public in May 2012, and he used the interview to make several clarifications about the health of Facebook's core business, its future ambitions, and employee morale.

Below are three myths about the company that Zuckerberg set out to debunk--and one, at the bottom, that turned out to be true.

Myth 1: Facebook's biggest problem is mobile.

Zuckerberg was bullish on the company's mobile division, saying that a lot has changed on mobile since the company went public.

"Literally, six months ago, we didn't run a single ad," he said. "It's easy for a lot of folks to underestimate how fundamentally good mobile is for us." But just how good is mobile for Facebook? Zuckerberg declined to give specifics, other than noting that mobile ads are outperforming the website's ads. 

Zuckerberg said that the future of Facebook is mobile, and, eventually, the company will have more mobile users, more engagement from these users, and more revenue per user from mobile. Again, no details on how exactly the company will accomplish this.

Separately, Zuckerberg admitted his own obsession with his iPhone: He wrote his Founder's Letter in the company's S-1 using his mobile.

Myth 2: The current stock price is killing company morale.

Though the current stock price isn't something employees are particularly happy about, Zuckerberg says, it's not a limiting factor for the company's productivity. "Stock price doesn't help morale," he acknowledged. "But there [are] a few important things: Facebook has not been an uncontroversial company in the past. [Employees] are fairly used to people saying good and bad things [about the company]. We have a good compass, and we stay focused."

He added, "I would rather be in a cycle where people underestimate us. I think it gives us lattitude to go out and make big bets."

Myth 3: Facebook is building its own phone.

"Why would we build our own phone?" Zuckerberg said, laughing. Though there have been numerous reports that the company was making its way into hardware, Zuckerberg denied the claim. Sorry, Facebook phone conspiracy theorists.

Myth 4: Facebook is building its own search product to compete with Google.

This was the one myth that proved to be accurate.

"We do on the order of one billion queries a day, and we're not even trying," he said. "I think there's a big opportunity there. It's going in an interesting direction. Search engines are evolving to giving you a set of answers. When you think from that perspective, Facebook is pretty uniquely positioned to answer questions people have."

Arrington was quick to ask the obvious: Does that mean Facebook will compete with Google on search?

"At some point we'll do it," Zuckerberg said. "We have a team working on search."

IMAGE: Flickr/Kevin Krejci
Last updated: Sep 11, 2012




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