Mark Zuckerberg in first public appearance since IPO: 'Everything I do breaks'
Mark Zuckerberg — Facebook founder, architect of the digital human oversoul, and current Wall Street whipping boy — came onstage today at TechCrunch’s Disrupt conference, the first time he’s spoken publicly since Facebook’s IPO. You may remember that Facebook’s IPO was supposed to be the most exciting thing to ever happen to our economy, according to people who are supposed to understand how the economy works. Alas, Facebook’s IPO did not immediately transform our world into The Jetsons, and the stock price has consistently disappointed throughout the summer. TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington didn’t waste time, immediately diving into questions about the stock. “The performance of the stock has obviously been disappointing,” he said, before quickly turning the conversation into the promise of Mobile Technology, which will definitely get the stock price to rise any day now, just you wait, oh just you wait.
Arrington held firm, though, asking if the stock price had affected morale at the company. “Well, it doesn’t help,” Zuckerberg deadpanned, clearly anxious to get back to talking about Mobile. There was a strange moment when the mogul addressed concerns about his employees by saying, “Maybe some people are gonna leave, but it’s a great time for people to join, and it’s a great time for people to stay and double down.” (It was kind of like that part in Aguirre, the Wrath of God when Klaus Kinski says: “Whoever follows me will win untold riches, and anyone who even thinks about deserting this mission will be cut up into 198 pieces. For I am the wrath of god.”) But Zuckerberg explained his belief that Facebook has been regularly overrated and underrated in its brief existence, and he prefers it when people are underrating him.
Zuckerberg fended off questions about a Facebook Phone (which he insists is not happening), although when Arrington asked about the possibility of a Google-esque search engine, Zuckerberg idly noted, “We’re basically doing 1 billion queries a day and we’re not even trying,” which is what smack talk sounds like in Silicon Valley. Zuckerberg also admitted that the biggest mistake they had made as a company was betting too much on HTML5, which everyone agrees was a real downturn in quality from HTML4, when HTML fought Ivan Drago.
At one point, Arrington asked if Zuckerberg still coded. The CEO admitted that he didn’t code anything for Facebook anymore, since — if the code broke — someone else would have to fix it. “Does Mark Zuckerberg’s code break?” asked Arrington. “Yes,” Zuckerberg admitted, “Everything I do breaks. But we fix it quickly.”
Zuckerberg concluded the Q&A by saying, “There are all these long-term projects that I can’t get into right now, but we are retooling to work on, and we’re about halfway through that cycle.” However, he did not his modest ambitions for Facebook. “The legacy of this company should be: We connected everyone in the world, and everyone should share all they want.” At that point the Care Bears ran onstage and joined Zuckerberg in a choreographed singalong to that Drive Shaft classic “You All Everybody.”
Follow Darren on Twitter: @DarrenFranich