Facebook: Cool Code Trumps Share Price

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On September 11, TechCrunch sat down with Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) to gain insight into where the company is heading.

Mobile remains the key to future growth.

The explosive growth in mobile isn't lost on Mr. Zuckerberg. It serves as both Facebook's Achilles heel and its single biggest opportunity. The inability to leverage the platform is the single biggest factor behind Facebook's share price, which Mr. Zuckerberg acknowledges as disappointing. But, as quickly as he acknowledges the disappointment, he also reiterates - in Steve Jobs (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Jeff Bezos (NASDAQ:AMZN) fashion - the mission remains building a great product and service.

Facebook's problems are front and center.

A bet two years ago to focus the company's mobile code on HTML5 turned out to be seriously flawed. Instead of allowing Facebook to be fast, it proved clunky at best. Since then, Facebook has shifted gears. It's refocused on developing native code geared toward streamlining services and removing bottlenecks. The newly launched Apple Facebook app has gotten high marks so far, suggesting a corner has been turned.

This is important to Facebook's future. Mr. Zuckerberg willingly admits to being a voracious mobile user himself and he believes mobile revenue will eventually surpass desktops. Time will tell if the company can deliver on that goal. But, I'm foolishly optimistic given other firms are succeeding.

Cool code is what drives innovation.

Mr. Zuckerberg believes universal motivation comes from building something and seeing it work. In Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) fashion, Facebook believes recruiting the best talent hinges on more than simply stock options. It also relies heavily on creating an environment encouraging and fostering new ideas.

Techies love to design, build and create and apps. Giving them the opportunity to bring new products and services to Facebook's huge audience is key, which is why Facebook's team has been hard at work turning Facebook's clunky mobile apps into an ecosystem for developers.

The new IOS app may be simply competent. But, that's a huge step up from clunky and annoying. And, while competent is far from a ringing endorsement, it shows a realistic approach to disrupting the status quo and hints much more is coming.

Mr. Zuckerberg's conceded "Everything I do breaks. But, we fix it quickly."

Great leaders understand their strengths. More importantly, they recognize their weaknesses too. It's hard to admit when you're wrong. But, in business its critical. Particularly in the fast paced world of technology. In buying Instagram, Facebook showed either amazing hubris or great savvy. Instagram has passed 100 million users and more join daily. The question remains whether shareholders are getting enough value. Clearly, leveraging the talent and platform has benefits. It may not be as big a win as Youtube was for Google. But, content remains key to increasing the time users spend on the site.

That fact isn't lost on Facebook. It's likely a key reason behind the rumors of it building its music platform, much to Pandora (NYSE:P) shareholders dismay.

Leveraging such content for ad revenue is the opportunity.

When asked whether Facebook is working on search, Mr. Zuckerberg admitted a team is continuing to work on ways to integrate Siri-like search, focused less on generating a list of potential solutions and more on delivering the solution itself. The opportunity is clearly there. Over one billion search queries are handled every day on the site. Admittedly, most searches are for people. But, increasingly users are searching for brand and product pages too.

With Facebook pages becoming a staple in promotion driven social media marketing, it's clear there's a big market to serve. If Mr. Zuckerberg's innovation focus can be translated into revenue growth, long term shareholders may find today's share price attractive.

Disclosure: I am long FB. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.