Facebook Rises as CEO Says He’s Addressing Mobile Missteps

(Updates with German trading starting in
first paragraph.)
Sept. 12 (Bloomberg) -- Facebook Inc. rose in German
trading after Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg
said he’s addressing the missteps that have made it
hard to reap the benefits of mobile advertising.
“Now we are a mobile company,” Zuckerberg said in an
on- stage interview at the TechCrunch Disrupt
conference in San Francisco yesterday, his first since
Facebook’s initial public offering. “Over the next three to five years I think the biggest question
that is on everyone’s minds, that will determine our performance over that period, is really how
well we do with mobile.”
Facebook rose as much as 4.7 percent to the equivalent of $20.34 in German trading today as the
remarks allayed concerns over its ability to generate sales from users who increasingly socialize
over handheld devices. The shares yesterday gained as much as 4.8 percent in late U.S. trading.
The stock had plunged 49 percent since the May 17 IPO amid signs of slowing growth and
executives’ silence over plans to turn the tide.
“He struck an upbeat tone,” said Colin Sebastian, an analyst at Robert W. Baird & Co. in San
Francisco. “Clearly, from his words, they are making progress in mobile.”
‘Biggest Mistake’
Zuckerberg, who appeared at ease while trading laughs with his interviewer, for the first time
elaborated on technical struggles that have impeded Menlo Park, California-based Facebook from
creating a user- and advertiser-friendly mobile application. The company spent too long trying to
build mobile products using a programming language known as HTML5, Zuckerberg said.
“The biggest mistake we’ve made as a company is betting too much on HTML5,” he said.
Facebook is lessening its reliance on the tools, and it has built an application better tailored for
Apple Inc.’s mobile software, Zuckerberg said. It’s also working on an application for Google Inc.’s
Android system. New features will be available to the mobile service in the coming weeks and
months, he said.
Based on the amount of time users spend on mobile, the company should make “a lot more
money” via wireless devices than through desktops, Zuckerberg said. Mobile users also tend to
be more interactive than desktop users, he said.
The stock extended its after-hours climb after Zuckerberg said Facebook is taking steps to
strengthen search capabilities. The company is fielding about a billion search queries a day.
Search Team
“We have a team working on search,” said Zuckerberg, who was interviewed by Michael
Arrington, a venture capitalist and the founder of the TechCrunch technology blog. “Search
engines are really evolving towards giving you a set of answers.”
Zuckerberg also said Instagram, the mobile photo-sharing service recently acquired by Facebook,
has more than 100 million registered users. Facebook wants to help Instagram, which cost the
company about $740 million in cash and stock, to grow to hundreds of millions of users, he said.
Facebook, which hasn’t closed above the $38 IPO price since its first trading day, reported in July
that second-quarter sales increased 32 percent, down from 45 percent in the previous three
months. Facebook rose to as high as $20.36 in late U.S. trading yesterday after earlier adding 3.3
percent to $19.43 at the close.
The share-price performance has been “disappointing” and it “doesn’t help” in terms of employee
morale, Zuckerberg said.
Still, Zuckerberg would rather Facebook be underestimated rather than lavished with praise, he
said. That gives the company flexibility to make big bets on the future.
“Sure, maybe some people will leave,” he said. “But I think it’s a great time for people to join and
a great time for people to stay and double down.”
--With assistance from Mark Milian in San Francisco. Editors: Tom Giles, Jillian Ward
To contact the reporters on this story: Brian Womack in San Francisco at
bwomack1@bloomberg.net; Douglas MacMillan in San Francisco at dmacmillan3@bloomberg.net
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tom Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net:

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