SAN FRANCISCO (AP and KQED) Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, acknowledging concerns about his company's stock performance, said Tuesday that Facebook has survived troubles before.
He spoke to a standing-room-only audience at a tech conference in San Francisco in his first interview since the company's rocky initial public offering in May. Facebook Inc.'s stock has lost half its value since the IPO.
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" at the San Francisco Disrupt conference organized by technology blog TechCrunch.
After he began speaking, Facebook's stock increased 74 cents, 3.8 percent, $20.17 after-hours trading. That's on top of a 3.3 percent gain during the 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 this 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, 28, had spoken during Facebook's first earnings conference call as a public company, 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. The stock had fallen sharply in the weeks following the IPO.
Sam Hamadeh, CEO of IPO research firm PrivCo, who has been very critical of both how Facebook launched its IPO and also the company's lack of a mobile strategy, told KQED that he gives Zuckerberg's performance a grade of B.
"On the plus side he came across as much more humble and contrite," said Hamadeh. "We hadn't seen that from Mark Zuckerberg in awhile. He also uttered the words 'we care about our shareholders,' the first time we've ever heard that out of his mouth.
"On the negative side, he talked solely about product. There was no addressing of one of the key gaps, in our opinion, which is the company still does not have any strategy to have a direct sales force to go after those big ad- dollar accounts. Zuckerberg was speaking almost as a CTO or VP of engineering, he wasn't coming across as a CEO. As a shareholder, I wouldn't be reassured by what I saw. I saw a guy who should be a senior programmer or software engineer and not a CEO of a multibillion dollar company."