On Tuesday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg called Facebook's IPO "disappointing" as he spoke publicly for the first time since his company's disappointing public offering in May 2012 at the popular TechCrunch Disrupt startup conference in San Francisco. In a 25-minute-interview with TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington, Zuckerberg faced an onslaught of questions about the IPO, at times looking nervous and overwhelmed.
Facebook stock has fallen to nearly half of its initial value since the $38 IPO price back in May (it closed the day at $19.43), something which served as the heavy subtone of the interview.
Arrington cut straight to the chase, asking Zuckerberg straight off the bat, "Would you have done anything different in the IPO?" Zuckerberg responded, "Just get right to it! The performance of the stock has been disappointing. We are going to do things that are going to build value over the long term," he told the crowd, saying it will all come down to what the company does with its mobile strategy.
By all accounts, Zuckerberg seemed a bit nervous, even at times unconvincing, as he told the crowd that Facebook will make a lot more money on mobile than on desktop computers. he told Arrington there's a huge opportunity for Facebook in its mobile advertising strategy, saying in the new version of the Facebook iOS app, users have doubled the amount of feed stories that they see per day.
Zuckerberg said the company's biggest misstep to date was focusing too much on HTML5, rather than putting more stock in its mobile strategy.
Two of the more interesting moments came when Arrington asked Zuckerberg whether he still writes code, and about the company's Instagram acquisition. On the first, Zuckerberg said, "I code for fun on the side," but explained that he has shifted away from that as a core part of his responsibilities for the company. He playfully told the audience that his code breaks, but "we fix it quickly."
Regarding the Instagram purchase, Arrington asked why Facebook bought the photo-sharing app. Zuckerberg was hardly convincing in his reply, saying he and founder Kevin Systrom became friends, came up with a list of "cool things," and will "execute on the features we decided earlier." From a business perspective, however, he never told the crowd why that deal made sense for the company.
The interview ended in typical Zuckerberg style. When asked if he is still having fun, Zuckerberg responded, "For me, it is not really about fun -- it is about mission." "I would rather be in the cycle where people underestimate us."