5 key takeaways from Mark Zuckerberg’s ‘Disrupt’ interview

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Mark Zuckerberg’s interview at TechCrunch Disrupt was always going to be a big one. It was, after all, the first one he’d given since the massive social network went public a couple of months ago.

In the interview, his hoodiedness discussed everything from HTML 5, to mobile strategy and the catastrophic drop in Facebook’s share price since its IPO.

1. Betting on HTML 5 was a mistake
When Facebook finally launched a native iPhone app, you could practically hear the sighs of relief from Apple users around the world. Commenting on the decision to go native, Zuckerberg said that focusing on HTML 5 was an error in judgement. “The biggest mistake we made as a company was betting too much on HTML5 as opposed to native,” he said, “it just wasn’t ready”.

That doesn’t mean we should completely abandon HTML 5 though. As Mashable founder Pete Cashmore notes, “HTML5 is a great long-term bet. Facebook should have built their iPhone app natively from the start, but that doesn’t mean HTML5 has lost.”

2. Don’t expect a phone any time soon
A Facebook phone is one of those ideas that periodically gets hyped up by the tech press, but we probably shouldn’t expect to see one while Zuckerberg is still in charge. “It’s always been the wrong strategy for us,” he said.

In fact, he thinks it would make no sense for the social network to build a phone. “Let’s say we build a phone,” he said. “We’re not, but if we did, we could maybe get 10 to 20 million people to use it… It doesn’t move the needle for us.”

“The strategy we have is different from every other tech company [like Apple] that’s building their own hardware system — we’re going in the opposite direction.”

That said, mobile is very definitely a big part of its strategy. “We want to build a system, which is as deeply as possible integrated into every major device people want to use,” Zuckerberg said.

“It’s easy for people to underestimate how good mobile is for us,” he added. “We’ve transitioned, and now we’re a mobile company.”

As far as we’re concerned, the company still has a bit of work to do if it’s to capture the mobile market as effectively as African social networks have.

3. It’s ready to take on Google where it hurts
Yup, Facebook is building a search engine and Zuckerberg thinks it could be a winner. “Facebook is pretty uniquely positioned to answer the questions people have. At some point we’ll do it. We have a team working on it.”

Given that search is becoming increasingly social and context-aware, he could well be right. On the other hand it could fare as well as Google has in its myriad attempts to take on Facebook in social.

4. He’s not too worried about the stock price
Facebook’s stock performance has been dismal since going public. It’s currently sitting at less than half of its IPO value and that’s after a 4.6% spike in the wake of Zuckerberg’s interview.

Zuckerberg admits that the stock price is a problem, but doesn’t feel that it’ll hurt Facebook too badly in the long run.

“Well, the performance of the stock has obviously been disappointing,” he said. But the boy genius reckons that the real indicator of how well Facebook does over the next few years will be how well it manages monetise its mobile audience.

That said, the rocky share price may have affected employee morale. “Maybe some people will leave,” Zuckerberg said, “I actually think it’s a great time for people to join and also for people to stay and double down.”

5. Zuck’s money is on Spotify, Airbnb, Nike+ and Runkeeper
It was almost inevitable that the interview would turn to which up and coming tech companies Zuckerberg was backing to make it big. The answer was music streaming service Spotify, online vacation matching service Airbnb, and fitness products Nike+ and Runkeeper.

“Spotify is killing it right now,” he said. Then again, Spotify is frequently used as an example of what Facebook integration can do for a company. In fact, as TechCrunch points out, the other companies all have ways to integrate with Facebook. Then again a whole load of other companies do too, so the hoodied one may genuinely see something special in this selection.


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