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Facebook CEO has "made every mistake you can make"

By Julianne Pepitone, staff reporter


SAN FRANCISCO (CNNMoney.com) -- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says he's made "every mistake you can make" in business, but love of the product keeps users faithful.

At the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco on Tuesday night, conference moderator John Battelle pressed Zuckerberg on the social network's past failings.

"The Facebook trait seems to be pushing the envelope so far and then saying, 'Oops,'" Battelle said. "Is that an intentional point of view? That I didn't ask permission, but now I ask forgiveness?"

Zuckerberg, a young CEO at 26 years old, conceded he has "made every mistake you can make. But people allow those mistakes because they love [Facebook]."

Zuckerberg appeared more at ease than he usually is at conferences, and he readily admitted that Facebook is still figuring out the best way to handle issues like data privacy.

"As far as I can tell, Facebook Connect has enabled the greatest portability of data ever created," Zuckerberg said, referring to users' ability to interact on other sites using their Facebook identities.

For other data portability options, users can download their Facebook data into a zip file. Zuckerberg said the idea was to give users control over their information, but he admitted, "I'm not sure we're 100% right on this."

Despite Facebook's imperfection, its users are loyal: Zuckerberg said more than 50% of Facebook's 500 million users visit the site at least once a day. As a result, he said, the idea of social is now woven into the online experience.

"Over the next five years, most industries are going to be rethought to be social," Zuckerberg said. "Social makes any Web application a whole order of magnitude more engaging than anything else."

Gaming developers best embody that philosophy, Zuckerberg said, citing four successful companies that were built around the Facebook platform: Zynga, Playfish, Playdom and Crowdstar.

"All four are really good companies, too," Zuckerberg said. "Zynga's market cap is now bigger than EA's. That's massive disruption.

Audience members laughed when Zuckerberg called Facebook a "small" company in pointing out that the site has "only a few hundred" engineers.

"If something doesn't have to be built by us, we'd rather it wasn't," Zuckerberg said. "Apple and Google will come up with an idea and just build it, but we're more decentralized. Why not mobilize some young entrepreneur to build their own thing, build their own company?"

Moderator Battelle asked whether Zuckerberg is "interested in the business social graph, connections between businesses" -- i.e., a B2B social network. But Zuckerberg looked blank, saying, "I don't know what that means."

Zuckerberg also rehashed Monday's announcement of a Facebook messaging system, which combines messages across Facebook, email and text.

He said a Facebook bug that surfaced earlier Tuesday, which mistakenly deleted legitimate user accounts, was not related to the messaging system.

Battelle asked the question that's constantly buzzing in Silicon Valley: When will Facebook go public?

Zuckerberg said flatly: "Don't hold your breath." To top of page

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