Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says he's not worried about the company's valuation and doesn't feel any pressure to live up to the $15 billion pricetag put on the company when Microsoft invested $240 million in it one year ago.
"When you raise money you take the best valuation you can get," Zuckerberg said.
Zuckerberg also played down Facebook's rivalry with Google when he was interviewed onstage at the Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco.
The youthful exec admitted the company isn't making any "direct" money from its Facebook Connect platform but didn't directly answer a question about whether it's trying to raise money.
He also confirmed that Facebook's annual revenue is in the "hundreds of millions" and said it's not going public "for a few years." The company has two revenue streams, one from sales on Facebook and another from the Web, but he declined to give a percentage breakdown of the two.
The quick highlights of the conversation with John Battelle, founder and CEO of online ad network Federated Media.:
-Facebook doesn't need money, Zuckerberg says
-Zuckerberg isn't obsessing about the company's valuation
-The company isn't making any money directly from Facebook Connect
Question: Do you need money?
Any trips to Dubai?
How much money are you making?
We've said revenue is in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
On the Microsoft investment:
A lot of people are obsessing about the price. As a private company, the valuation is not something we have to worry about on a daily basis. We aren't planning on going public for a few years. We don't feel any kind of pressure to live up to 15 billion dollars.
If people all over the world are using Facebook to connect, that's really a big change. That's what we're working on. It's more than the investment. We wanted to work with them (on advertising). It was a larger part of our revenue, it's still in the millions of dollars, but a smaller part of
Question: Do you have a hiring freeze?
Zuckerberg: No. The challenge for us is to hire really great technical people. We're also aggressively expanding the sales effort, especially internationally. In France, 7% of the people are on Facebook. It's at an inflection point, it could be 25% next year. So that's two places we're hiring. Seven hundred people work at Facebook.
On the FB walled garden approach, criticism that it's FB is not part of Open Social:
Technical systems end up being open, but you've got to start somewhere. There's this very clear transition from closed to open systems. Challenge we have is to bring people down that path, getting people used to putting information on the Web. We got people through this phase.
We realized we'd never been able to build all the apps people want to use, so we created the platform. Most of the development has been within Facebook. Now (with Facebook Connect) people can put things on their own pages. As time goes on, we'll see a fanning out, a decentralization of things. Some of the things Google is doing are interesting, at some point it might be worth exploring working together. But they're much smaller than us. Developers tell us they prefer working on our platform.
People make (the competition with Google) more dramatic than it is. What they're doing is cool, what we're doing is bigger. As time goes on, I'm not saying we won't want to work with them. They may want to work with us. There's lots of things to do, privacy, just a lot going on. Over time, we'll see a very clear trend of people sharing info online. You'll see public streams (from social network users).
Growth of the platform:
We were blown away by the adoption of the Facebook platform in 2007. We learned that we want to do stuff in a more controlled way, it's why we had a closed beta (for Facebook Direct).
Around 50% of users are active every day. We don't have to do things to bring them to the site, if we keep building stuff that makes it easier for them to share info with the people they want, people will share twice as much a year from now and twice as much a year after that. The stream of info is increasing.
How are you making money from Facebook Direct?
It's not a very direct thing. There's nothing associated with it that's going to be revenue generated. The more people are using Facebook, the more pages they're viewing. It's an ad model.
What are some of the fastest-growing apps?
Stuff related to the election. The 'Causes' app is growing hundreds of thousands of people a day
On the enterprise market:
This week the New York Times got 200,000 people who sent a Barack Obama headline app as a gift. We're not an enterprise company, we have no plans to go in that direction, but I think someone will build something really great in that space (on the Facebook platform).
Question: are you buying Twitter?
I think they're doing great stuff, have a cool platform.
Question: Does your CFO have a build vs buy spreadsheet? (to see whether Twitter is worth buying)
I don't think the CFO makes the determination of who we're going to buy.