Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg received a commemorative hoodie from the NASDAQ CEO Bob Greifeld and thanked his site’s users in opening remarks recorded before he rang the NASDAQ opening bell this morning.
In his short speech which you can watch below, Zuckerberg said:
“I just want to say a few things, and then we’ll ring this bell and we’ll get back to work. Right now this all seems like a big deal. Going public is an important milestone in our history. But here’s the thing: our mission isn’t to be a public company. Our mission is to make the world more open and connected. In the past eight years, all of you out there have built the largest community in the history of the world. You’ve done amazing things that we never would have dreamed of and I can’t wait to see what you’re all going to do going forward.
So on this special day, on behalf of everyone at Facebook, I just want to say to all the people out there who use Facebook and our products, thank you. So let’s do this! [Rings bell] This is an awesome moment. Remember, stay focused and keep shipping”
Zuckerberg’s remarks about the company that first aired on Bloomberg TV could worry investors that Zuckerberg isn’t focused on building revenues to a point that justifies its $104 billion IPO valuation. With Facebook beginning trading at a valuation around 100x its trailing earnings, it will need to implement bold new revenue streams such as an offsite ad network or bigger, glossier ads to satisfy Wall Street.
That Greifeld would present Zuck with a hoodie after the young visionary was criticized for his immature fashion choices may show that even NASDAQ’s CEO doesn’t take Facebook’s founder seriously as a businessman.
The statement echoed Zuckerberg’s letter to investors that was included with the S-1. In the letter he said:
“Facebook was not originally created to be a company. It was built to accomplish a social mission — to make the world more open and connected. We think it’s important that everyone who invests in Facebook understands what this mission means to us.”
Despite this morning’s speech, Zuckerberg has tried to assure investors he’s working for them, and not just for the users he wishes to connect:
“We don’t wake up in the morning with the primary goal of making money, but we understand that the best way to achieve our mission is to build a strong and valuable company. This is how we think about our IPO as well. We’re going public for our employees and our investors. We made a commitment to them when we gave them equity that we’d work hard to make it worth a lot and make it liquid, and this IPO is fulfilling our commitment. As we become a public company, we’re making a similar commitment to our new investors and we will work just as hard to fulfill it.”
But the fact is that Mark Zuckerberg does run a public company now. He may plan to continue favoring the user experience over advertisers in the short-term to make sure Facebook has years to honor its investors. That’s probably the best strategy. It’s going to be hard to convince investors to wait around until then if he keeps making statements like these, though.