Facebook CEO hints at mobile, search initiatives. Shares rise (+video)
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, in his first public appearance since the company's disastrous initial public offering, says Wall Street doesn't understand Facebook's business potential in mobile. Losing more than half their value since May, Facebook shares gained more than 3 percent.
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Zuckerberg, who wrote in the IPO prospectus that the company has always cared primarily about its "social mission," has kept a low public profile as the stock has crumbled in the months since the IPO.Skip to next paragraph
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Adding to the pressure on the stock is the ongoing expiration of "lock-up" selling restrictions for shares held by employees, insiders and early investors: More than 1 billion additional Facebook shares are set to become available for trading by year's end.
Zuckerberg, who recently committed not to sell his own shares for at least 12 months, conceded that the company's downward-spiraling stock was not helping staff morale, but stressed he still thought it was a good time to join the company and "double down."
"It's not like this is the first up and down that we've ever had," he told hundreds of attendees at the conference. "I would rather be in the cycle where people underestimate us."
While Facebook has taken a beating on Wall Street, some of the Internet industry programmers, entrepreneurs and investors who packed the aisles to watch Zuckerberg's roughly 30-minute talk said their faith in the CEO and the company was not shaken.
"This company is about vision and changing the world and I don't know who would be better prepared to lead it than the guy who had that vision and built the company to a profitable multibillion dollar company before his 30th birthday," said Dave Crowder of GSV Asset Management, which owns Facebook shares.
"Probably we will look back and say that that was the biggest mistake, the biggest strategic mistake we made," he said of the company's decision to create mobile apps using open web standards instead of building apps specially designed for iPhone and Android smartphones.
But he again quashed a years-long rumor that Facebook is wading into the hardware business and developing a branded phone.
Building a smartphone would be "clearly the wrong strategy for us," Zuckerberg said.