Bloomberg News

Facebook’s Zuckerberg Says Jobs Advised on Company Focus

November 15, 2011

(Updates with comment on Google in last two paragraphs.)

Nov. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Jobs advised him on how to sharpen his company’s focus and build the right management team for the world’s largest social network.

“I had a lot of questions for him,” Zuckerberg said in an interview with Charlie Rose that’s due to air today. The topics included “how to build a team around you that’s focused on building as high quality and good things as you are.”

Jobs, in the period before he died on Oct. 5, viewed it as his responsibility to give advice to up-and-coming technology executives including Zuckerberg, according to a biography of Jobs published last month. Jobs said in interviews with the author, Walter Isaacson, that he admired the Facebook CEO for not “selling out.”

Zuckerberg, who at age 27 is ranked No. 14 on Forbes magazine’s list of richest U.S. people, sought the advice as he navigates rapid growth and the onslaught of rivals such as Google Inc. He’s also preparing Palo Alto, California-based Facebook, which boasts 800 million users, for a possible initial public offering as early as next year, people familiar with the matter have said.

Jobs and Zuckerberg also talked about “the aesthetics and kind of mission orientation of companies,” Zuckerberg said in the interview with Charlie Rose.

IPO Planning

Jobs didn’t propose an acquisition of Facebook by Apple, said Zuckerberg and Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, who was also interviewed by Rose.

Facebook doesn’t get approached about buyouts from other companies either, given its size, Sandberg said.

On the question of going public, Facebook will do so when it’s “ready,” she said.

Groupon Inc., which went public last week, didn’t affect the timing of a potential Facebook IPO, Zuckerberg said. A possible IPO isn’t “something I spend a lot of time on a day- to-day basis thinking about,” he said.

“We’ve made this implicit promise to our investors and to our employees that by compensating them with equity and by giving them equity, that at some point we’re going to make that equity worth something publicly and liquidly, in a liquid way,” he said. “Now, the promise isn’t that we’re going to do it on any kind of short-term time horizon. The promise is that we’re going to build this company so that it’s great over the long term, right. And that we’re always making these decisions for the long term, but at some point we’ll do that.”

Blocked in China

Facebook isn’t focused on entering China right away, either, Zuckerberg said. With the site blocked, there’s no “path” to making the service available in China. Still, getting into the country is a possibility the company is looking at for the future.

“At some point I think there would be some discussion around what it would take to go there,” he said. “Then we’d at that point have to figure out whether we were willing to do that.”

Facebook has opportunities for now beyond China, even with other technology companies competing for user attention, potential engineers and ad dollars. For its part, Facebook is trying to position itself as a central player on the Web for relationships between users and sharing information between them, he said.

Large technology companies such as Facebook, Apple and Amazon.com Inc. can work together, even if there is some competition, he said.

“I don’t think that this is going to be the type of situation where there’s one company that wins all the stuff,” he said.

Google, the world’s most popular online search company, unveiled rival social network Google+ earlier this year.

“Google, I think, in some ways, is more competitive and certainly is trying to build their own little version of Facebook,” he said. “I look at Amazon and Apple and I see companies who are extremely aligned with us.”

--Editors: Tom Giles, Jillian Ward

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Womack in San Francisco at bwomack1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tom Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net


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