Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg acknowledges stock fall, says company has overcome hurdles before
By Associated Press, Published: September 11
SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg hasn’t enjoyed watching his company’s stock price plunge this summer, but he is relishing the opportunity prove his critics on Wall Street wrong.
“I would rather be in a cycle where people underestimate us,” Zuckerberg said Tuesday. “I think it gives us the latitude to go out and make some big bets.”
Zuckerberg, 28, spoke to a standing-room-only audience at a tech conference in San Francisco in his first interview since Facebook Inc.’s rocky initial public offering in May. The social networking leader’s stock has lost nearly half its value since the IPO, lopping more than $50 billion from Facebook’s market value.
Zuckerberg said the drop “has obviously been disappointing,” but he said it’s a great time to “double down” on the company’s future.
“Facebook has not been an uncontroversial company,” Zuckerberg said. “It’s not like this is the first up and down we have ever had.”
Among other things, Facebook Inc. has repeatedly faced criticism and user rebellion over its policies and practices affecting data privacy.
Wearing a gray T-shirt, jeans and sneakers, Zuckerberg appeared Tuesday in a half-hour “fireside chat” in San Francisco at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference organized by technology blog TechCrunch.
After he began speaking, Facebook’s stock increased 65 cents, 3.4 percent, hitting $20.08 in after-hours trading. That’s on top of a 3.3 percent gain during Tuesday’s regular session.
“We have a pretty good compass,” Zuckerberg said. “I always like to think that when folks are being too nice, we aren’t as good as they say they are. And when the media is being too critical, we are not as bad as they say we are.”
Investors have been concerned about Facebook’s ability to keep growing revenue, especially as more people use it from mobile devices, where there is less room to how ads.
Zuckerberg said it was “really easy for folks to underestimate how really fundamentally good mobile is for us.”
He made it clear that Facebook wants to make money and will do that by figuring out mobile. Although Zuckerberg has long talked about the company’s mission to make the world more open and connected, he acknowledged, “we can’t just focus on that.”
Zuckerberg had spoken during Facebook’s first earnings conference call as a public company in late July, but has been largely out of the spotlight since. In a recent regulatory filing, Facebook said Zuckerberg does not plan to sell any shares in the company for at least the next 12 months. That proved to be a point of relief for investors who are worried about post-IPO “lock-up” expirations that allow early investors and insiders to sell their shares. It’s a sign that Zuckerberg has faith in Facebook’s long-term future. The question now is, whether that’s enough?
Facebook began trading publicly in mid-May following one of the most anticipated stock offerings in history. The IPO priced at $38, at the top of a projected range that Facebook had already boosted just days earlier.
AP Technology Writer Barbara Ortutay in New York contributed to this story.