"Six months ago, we were in a bad place in mobile," he said,
mostly because the company focused too long on building out its
apps for the mobile web, rather than building native versions of
the Facebook app for Apple and Android devices.
"There is no doubt we had a bunch of missteps on this," he said.
"But we've transitioned now and we are a mobile company."
"I basically live on my mobile device," Mr. Zuckerberg said, as
if to drive that point home. He added that he composed his
oft-quoted founders' letter in Facebook's IPO filing -- the one
that said "we don't build services to make money; we make money to
build better services" -- on his mobile phone.
The Facebook founder handled his 30 minutes on stage at
TechCrunch Disrupt with the famously prickly founder Michael
Arrington with considerable poise compared with his sweaty,
stuttering stage appearances of the past. He clearly had an agenda
to convey Facebook's opportunity in mobile devices, and he largely
Mr. Zuckerberg conceded some strategic mistakes, though not in
how the IPO was handled or whether the stock, down more than 50%
from the IPO, impacts the company's ability to pursue its mission.
Facebook shares inched up more than 3% in after-hours trading.
He sees the stock price as an opportunity to bring in new
talent, rather than a trigger for talent to leave. "I think it's
actually a good time for people to join and a good time for people
to stay and double-down," he said.
He also parried several questions from Mr. Arrington about the
existence of a project to build a phone. "It's so clearly the wrong
strategy for us," he said. "Let's say we built a phone. Maybe we
could get 10 or 20 million people to use it. It wouldn't move the
needle for us. We want to build a system that is deeply integrated
into every device people want to use."
But he did say that Facebook has a team working on search, which
puts it on collision course with arch rival Google, which has spent
the past few years attempting to add social signals to search with
its G+ social network.
Facebook already gets billion search queries a day "without
really trying," he said, mostly users looking for people or content
on Facebook. But Mr. Zuckerberg said the ambition for search is
bigger. "Facebook is pretty uniquely positioned to deliver answers;
what sushi restaurants have your friends visited in New York, and
liked? These are queries you could do on Facebook that you couldn't
do anywhere else."
He conceded that the company has been slow on product over the
last six months as it reorganizes developer teams to focus on
mobile, but he said that the pace would begin to accelerate,
including a new Android app.
"People underestimate how well we are doing in mobile," he said.
"We already see that mobile users are more likely to be daily
active users than desktop user."
He also said that that ultimately Facebook will make more money
from mobile than from desktop PCs. The company is expected to earn
$4.2 billion from advertising this year, mostly targeted at PC
users, according to eMarketer, but
mobile revenue is expected to grow explosively over
the next few years.
"Mobile is a lot closer to TV than desktop," he said, meaning
they have to be full-screen and part of the experience, rather than
boxes in the right column as they are on the desktop. "What we're
seeing now with the early mobile ads is they perform better than
right-hand column ads on Facebook."
He said he actually prefers when Facebook is being
underestimated, and clearly believes now is one of those times. "It
gives us latitude to go out and make big bets and do things that
excite and amaze people," he said.
"Facebook has not been an uncontroversial company in the past,"
he said. "People here are fairly used to the press saying good
things about us and saying bad things about us."