Before Mark Zuckerberg started the question-and-answer session at today’s Facebook shareholder meeting, he noted that many of the pre-submitted questions focused on the performance of Facebook’s stock since IPO. It’s a familiar question, and he offered comments similar to ones that he’s made before — including at TechCrunch’s Disrupt conference last fall.
Zuckerberg acknowledged that many shareholders aren’t happy with the stock’s performance, and he said Facebook needs to do more than achieve its general mission of making the world more open and connected — it also needs “to be a great financial return for all of our shareholders.”
“We’re disappointed with the performance of the stock over the past year,” he said. “The real question is: What are we going to do about it?”
Zuckerberg didn’t get too specific in his response, but he said that the company has always taken “a long-term view.” He noted that it took Facebook nine years to get to the point that it’s at today, and he said the company will “stay focused” on things like improving the product, growing revenue, and adding more apps to the platform, rather than the stock price per se. As it does so, he said he expects there “to be fluctuations in how the public thinks that we’re doing.”
Judging from the questions that followed, shareholders weren’t entirely happy with that response. And while it’s easy to poke fun at the cantankerousness or apparent naivete of many of the comments and questions, it was a reminder of the (perhaps obvious) point that there are many regular people who bought Facebook and lost money as a result.
Zuckerberg’s answers to their complaints were mainly a variation on his initial comments, but he did give an interesting answer at the end, when someone asked how much time he spends paying attention to the business.
“I spend most of my time reviewing the product and on the things that our users touch,” he said. However, he noted that “users” include a number of groups, including consumers, developers, and advertisers. So he added that it’s safe to assume that he has spent a meaningful amount of time reviewing Facebook’s ad products: “I’m very well-versed with our ad business.”