With a wedding ring on his finger and his company public, is Mark Zuckerberg ready to make Facebook produce more profits, not just more social connections?
His fanfare-less marriage to long-time girlfriend Priscilla Chan this weekend would seem to indicate he won’t be getting too distracted by family life. But just before Facebook IPO’d on Friday, he announced on stage that “Our mission isn’t to be a public company.”
As the young CEO enters this next phase of his life, he faces perhaps his greatest challenge yet: building something that betters our lives while still bringing home the bacon.
The business of social networking has never been Zuckerberg’s strongest suit. In fact, beyond his backyard wedding ceremony and a town hall discussion with President Barack Obama, you’re unlikely to see the CEO in a suit. That’s partly why one of his smartest moves was bringing on Google biz wiz Sheryl Sandberg as his COO.
But no one understands the future of social quite like Zuckerberg. His uncanny ability to figure out what we want from Facebook before we do has spawned the news feed and other features critical to the site’s enduring success. What Facebook the public company needs now is for Zuckerberg to aim that foresight toward making money.
Honestly, that’s the saddest part of Facebook’s IPO — that such a pioneer of human connection would have to fracture his attention to pore over profit-loss statements.
This is the man who brought us ambient intimacy, the feeling of being closer to everyone we know thanks to indirect communication. Facebook and its promising new auto-translation features, is fostering friendships between countries with deep cultural divides. These are the kinds of things the world needs Mark Zuckerberg working on.
But now Facebook has shareholders it’s responsible to. They’ll want him looking for aggressive new ways to monetize that come to fruition fast. Don’t expect Zuckerberg to strangle users with ads, though.
With any luck, you’ll hardly be able to tell what he’s up to when it comes to increasing revenue. It will be a natural side effect of how Facebook works. Such as that all those news stories, songs, and videos you auto-share to the news feed aren’t just content to show your friends. They’re going to power ad targeting based on what you do, not just what you Like.
Mark and Priscilla have just forged one of the strongest connections of all (congratulations, seriously). They’re starting the Zuckerberg family, a lifelong journey.
And the journey to Facebook’s earnings growing to reflect its valuation will be a long one too. It will take the visionary’s focus, but investors, press, employees, and the rest should be patient. Just because you don’t see the future of Facebook’s business right now doesn’t mean it hasn’t been dreamed up. This is Mr. Zuckerberg we’re talking about, after all.
[Image Credit: AP Photo]