Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg today admitted that the social network's recent stock market plunge is "disappointing," but said the company's efforts on mobile should help bolster Facebook's value in the years to come.
Facebook's lacklustre IPO "doesn't help" with company morale, Zuckerberg admitted during an interview at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco. But Facebook is familiar with public scrutiny; this is not the first time the social network has been under fire, he said.
A great product requires a great team, and a great team requires money, the chief acknowledged. But prospective Facebook employees shouldn't feel as though the the company's declining stock price will mean less compensation.
"The way we do compensation is we translate the amount of cash that we want to give you into shares," Zuckerberg said. If the shares are under-valued, "you're going to get more shares."
In the next three to five years, however, Facebook's performance will be determined by "how well we do with mobile," Zuckerberg said. In the last six months alone - a time during which Facebook has been in its IPO quiet period - "a lot of stuff has changed" in mobile, he said. Earlier this year, Apple hadn't announced its iOS 6 Facebook integration, there were no mobile ads on the social network, and Facebook hadn't purchased Instagram.
"I think it's easy for a lot of folks ... to really underestimate how fundamentally good mobile is for us," Zuckerberg said.
Unfortunately, Facebook wasted a lot of time on its HTML5 effort in recent years, Zuckerberg admitted today. The "biggest mistake" Facebook made was "betting too much on HTML5 versus native," he said. "It's not that HTML5 was bad, [but] we just were never able to get the quality we wanted."
"We burned two years" on that project, he said. "It's really painful [but] we're coming out of that now."
Zuckerberg talked up the recent iOS app update, which he said puts it in "good shape" and promised the same revamp for the Android Facebook app "soon."
When asked about the Instagram acquisition, meanwhile, Zuckerberg said the deal was basically rooted in Facebook's desire to devote more time to Instagram-focused projects. Zuckerberg said he frequently reaches out to high-profile Facebook developers, and developed a good relationship with Instagram chief Kevin Systrom.
The duo ended up building a "roadmap of all the things that we could do together," Zuckerberg said, but ultimately it didn't make sense to prioritise projects for an outside company over internal efforts. As a result, Zuckerberg suggested that the two firms join forces, resulting in the $1 billion deal.
Facebook can now execute on that roadmap, Zuckerberg said, and help Instagram - which now has more than 100 million users - attract hundreds of millions of users. Facebook, however, is not moving to make Instagram part of its infrastructure. The social network will treat Instagram as if it were an Open Graph partner, except that Instagram will get priority treatment - and access to Facebook code.
On that front, moderator Michael Arrington asked Zuckerberg if he ever codes anymore. Zuckerberg said he does it for fun, but doesn't think it's fair to start something for Facebook, when other employees will end up having to keep an eye on his code. When asked if his code breaks, Zuckerberg joked that "everything I do breaks," but it gets fixed quickly.
Arrington also questioned Zuckerberg about the fabled Facebook phone, and the Facebook chief once again reiterated that a hardware device doesn't make sense for the social network. Facebook is building a system that can be deeply integrated on any device - not just one, Facebook-produced gadget, he said.