The Facebook CEO apparently does not see the good in his falling stock price, admitting during a company meeting that it is “painful” to watch his company’s value sink and investors leave, sources told The Wall Street Journal’s Shayndi Raice. If Zuckerberg were a normal CEO, we could imagine why he’d be hurting from a financial perspective. Since Facebook’s IPO, he has lost almost $10 billion in personal wealth, which has pushed him just outside of the 10 richest tech billionaires in the world. Though, the Facebook CEO was never the kind of guy who cared about the bottom line: Remember, he never wanted to go public, even though it would make him tons of money. In his public appearances he tends to emphasize Facebook’s mission over its advertising strategy. And, of course, he dresses like he doesn’t care about money. So, then, what could this “pain” be about? Saving face, of course.
Facebook is losing the cool “up-and-coming” cache it once had. It has turned from start-up success story, to over-hyped IPO, to failing Web company with a lame advertising strategy, or even worse, to the face of another tech bubble popped. And, as a result, people on the inside have started to get scared. Zuckerberg held that company meeting as a way to “buck up morale,” according to Raice. The Facebook CEO may not care about money, but he obsesses over company culture, the “hacker way,” is Facebook’s version of Google’s Don’t Be Evil. This admission of pain was a plea to save that.
Over the years Facebook’s “hacker way,” which encourages tinkering and breaking things over making something only for the sake of money, has sucked the talent from the rest of Silicon Valley’s big tech companies. The timing of this meeting suggests he doesn’t want to lose those people. As of yesterday, a whole new group of Facebook employees got the ability to cash out, for reasons we explained yesterday. Without actual hackers, how does one have a hacker way? Zuckerberg needs to convince the people on the inside that his company is still a worthwhile, nay, innovative place to work. So, he held a meeting where he told employees “that the press doesn’t know the company’s future plans, and if they did, they would have the same faith in Facebook’s ability to fulfill its lofty stock-market valuation,” writes Raice.
See, Zuckerberg’s trying to prove the social network still has exciting things in store. But, something has changed. He has worked stock price and IPO business speak into his pep-talk. “He said that investments the company has made over the last six to 12 months will soon bear fruit,” continues Raice. Now that Facebook is a public company, Zuckerberg can’t afford to ignore that kind of stuff. He may have intended to, thinking COO Sheryl Sandberg would handle it, pushing the company along in the right direction. But, now that it has threatened the hackers he values so much, Zuckerberg has turned into a real-live CEO. And for a hacker, that’s gotta hurt.