‘Facebook’s future is in search and mobile’

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has asserted that his company is to intensify its efforts on search and mobile, providing a boost to its share price.

Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg at TechCrunch’s Disrupt event on 11 September 2012

Speaking at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in his first public interview since the company’s IPO in May, Zuckerberg said Facebook has a team working to improve the site’s current search facility to make it competitive with the likes of Google and Bing.

He said: “Facebook is pretty uniquely positioned to answer the questions people have: ‘What sushi restaurants have my friends gone to in New York in the past six months and liked?’, ‘Which of my friends and friends of friends work at this company I’m interested in … so I can talk to them about what it’s like to work there?’”

He also mentioned that the company is in the process of “retooling” in order to offer new advertising products as it looks for new revenue streams – particularly in mobile.

Zuckerberg rejected criticisms that his company is not ready for a shift to mobile devices, insisting despite some earlier “missteps” in betting on mobile web-based technology over apps, that it is now a “mobile company”. He added: “That is the future, we are going to be doing some killer stuff there”.

Facebook is currently on track to making more money on mobile than it does from ads tailored for its desktop site, he said.

IPhone users browsing Facebook on its dedicated app are viewing “double” the amount of content than other users, Zuckerberg added.

Facebook’s share price rose more than 3 per cent in after hours trading following the interview last night (11 September).

Zuckerberg admitted in the interview that the performance of Facebook’s shares, which have plummeted by 50 per cent since their debut, has not helped company morale but added that he would rather be in a cycle where people underestimate the company.

He added: “It gives us good latitude to go out and make big bets. I think a bunch of people are underestimating us.”

Separately yesterday (11 September), Facebook launched a new section of the site called Facebook Stories. The online magazine-style section presents examples of how the social network has been used for social good or for innovative purposes, such as collaborative science projects or finding long last family.

Facebook will hope the move will serve to quell some of the criticisms levelled against it, suggesting that the site has been used negatively such as in the August riots last year or when users have inadvertently advertised their house parties to the public, resulting in sometimes hundreds of uninvited gatecrashers.

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