Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has come out fighting after a three-month silence in which the social networking giant’s share value has tumbled alarmingly.
Speaking at the Techcrunch Disrupt conference on Wednesday, Zuckerberg candidly addressed the fraught issue of his company’s faltering efforts to grasp the mobile nettle.
A mobile-propelled freefall
Recent reports have highlighted the nerve-shredding $157 million loss Facebook suffered since its IPO in May; during the same period, the net worth of the company plunged by $50 billion. These knuckle-whitening declines are at least in part connected to Facebook’s failure to develop a robust mobile platform — a shortcoming that has cost the company dearly given that 955 million of its users routinely access their Facebook pages through mobile devices.
Facebook wants to emulate the spectacular growth rate shown by social news site Reddit, but Zuckerberg is shrewd enough to know that he’s got a lot of convincing and reassuring to do. Needless to say, every content manager, community manager and social media manager will be intrigued about his views on the way forward with regard to mobile technology.
While he didn’t pull any rabbits out of the hat, he didn’t disappoint either, openly stating that Facebook’s top priority was optimizing its service for mobile gadgets. Grasping the bull by the horns, Zuckerberg candidly acknowledged that his company had “burned two years” experimenting with the HTML5 coding protocol to little effect — but it’s clear that he now considers this a Facebook turkey.
A confident performance
Unlike some of his more hesitant public performances in the past, Zuckerberg managed to sound plausibly optimistic when he said, “I think it is really easy for folks to underestimate how really fundamentally good mobile is for us.” Scotching rumors that Facebook was about to develop its own smartphone, which wouldn’t “move the needle” even if it attracted 10 – 20 million people, he affirmed his commitment to building a system that could be integrated into every mobile device whether the platform was Android, iOS or Mobile Web.
Given that Facebook’s shares surged by 8 percent directly after his appearance, the young CEO appears to have calmed some agitated nerves. Wall Street analyst Ben Schechter praised Zuckerberg’s performance, adding that it was critical for investors to hear directly from him.