At the Techcrunch DisruptSF conference in San Francisco Monday, LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman addressed a variety of topics during the interview with Michael Arrington, TechCrunch-founder-turned-VC, including the future of Facebook, Twitter removing its feed from LinkedIn, the future of Zynga and what he thinks of Marissa Mayer.
Hoffman was an early investor in Facebook and, despite all of the company’s recent troubles, he still has faith the social network.
When asked if he thinks that Facebook is currently a good investment, Hoffman looked to the future of the company instead.
“I’m a big believer in Facebook’s long-term position,” Hoffman said. “The real question is how it plays out over the next year or two. I suspect that if it continues at this price, it will be a good buy either at now or some point.”
Hoffman also addressed the issue of Facebook’s trouble making money off of mobile, something that Hoffman says will not be a permanent problem.
He thinks Facebook’s management team is strong and it will be able to make money on mobile social networking at some point.
As for any investing in Facebook that he might do anytime soon, Hoffman said that he will wait to see what happens when Facebook’s lockups end.
“The issue with monetizing mobile is a hand-wringing problem that’s not hard to solve,” Hoffman told Arrington. “The executive team there is very strong. They have 1 billion users. Given all of that, I’m very bullish on their future prospects. Whether I would give investing advice depends on the timing.”
After its lockup period ended earlier this month, and over 271 million shares of Facebook were freed up, the stock hit its lowest levels yet, dropping to 50% of its IPO price.
Facebook’s future lockup dates include October 15 through November 13 when directors and employes can release 243 million shares, then November 14 when more VCs and Mark Zuckerberg can unload up to 1.3 billion shares and the December 14 when later stage VC can release up to 149 million shares.
Back in June, after a three year partnership, Twitter abruptly announced that Twitter posts would no longer appear on LinkedIn profiles, an early sign of what Twitter would later do with its new API guidelines.
As you may imagine, Twitter’s move did not make Hoffman too happy, prompted by Arrington into calling the move, “partial bullshit."
Hoffman says that LinkedIn tried very hard to keep Twitter on its pages, but that it was actually a blessing in disguise.
“We were alarmed, one of the things that we wanted was the liquidity of the set of a status updates, and thought that it was a natural part of the Twittersphere. We were pleasantly surprised at the fact that the product got better,” Hoffman said.
As for Twitter’s new API guidelines, which crack down on third party apps, he took the side of the developers against Twitter.
“It’s clearly not fair to developers. They based their livelihoods and product strategy on Twitter. On the other hand, Twitter has a responsibility to its vision and its shareholders. They needed to put some order to the chaos. It sucks to be a developer and they have legitimate gripes.”
Zynga and Mayer
Hoffman, who is a board member at Zynga, also offered his take on that company’s recent struggles, which have included a disappointing quarterly report, accusations of insider trading, lawsuits and a mass exodus of employees.
Despite all of that drama, Hoffman only had good things to say about Zynga CEO Mark Pincus, and his outlook for the company was positive.
“Mark is very committed. The social gaming space is still very interesting. Zynga has the best position in it. The fast cycle that Zynga pursues is the best for the market. The negative side was it didn’t diversify its platforms fast enough. The company knows they need to do that. The path forward is relatively straight forward.”
“I think that these technology companies, the strategies are inherently driven by product. And so you need someone who is inherently a product person in order to really drive it.”
He implored Yahoo investors to give Mayer time to turn the company around. Often investors see this as something that will only take three to six months.
“A turnaround like this is a one to three year gig, maybe emphasis on three. So I would emphasize to the board, public shareholders is, give this time to play it out.”
See the video Hoffman's interview below: