Last night, Charlie Rose aired exclusive conversations with Facebook’s top executives, chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg, and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg. Taped last Thursday in Palo Alto, the interview first ran on PBS and will also appear tonight on Bloomberg TV and on CharlieRose.com.
Here are highlights we saw.
On the upcoming IPO:
“…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… Whether it’s a dividend or not, they’ll be able to trade their equity for money. And you know, that’s something we take seriously, as a responsibility of running the company.”
Sandberg and Zuckerberg both remain discreet about timing of the IPO, and Zuckerberg says he hardly thinks about the IPO at this point.
‘Can’t find’ enough talented engineers:
Sandberg: “We have both an education problem and an immigration problem…” We do not train—we don’t graduate enough kids from high school. We don’t graduate enough kids from college in this country. And having these kinds of skills, we’re just absolutely far off.”
China expansion is likely far off:
After some hemming and hawing about its plans to expand into China, Zuckerberg and Sandberg agreed that they’ve decided not to try to go in at present because of government policies.
Sandberg: So it’s not really our choice. It’s the government’s choice, you know. We’re not available because they’ve chosen to make us not available.
Rose: Because they’ve acted a certain way, you’ve chosen not to go there. Fair enough.
Sandberg: No, it’s — yeah, yeah.
Zuckerberg then goes on to explain that Facebook wants to be everywhere eventually over the decades and so he hopes they’ll be able to get to China one day.
Why America and Silicon Valley rules:
One, Sandberg says, is the ability to have high caliber engineers, and other is to “educate engineers who can just try out their own ideas” and the “freedom to do that.” Free market economics, as Sandberg says. Facebook, Google, Apple: they’ve all capitalized on America’s supportive entrepreneurial environment. And Facebook and Google are pretty similar, admits Sandberg, since they are both founder-led. Then Zuckerberg adds a dig, as an aside: “Google, I think, in some ways, is more competitive and certainly is trying to build their own little version of Facebook.” Google’s Bradley Horowitz responded on Bloomberg yesterday to say that he was happy to be underestimated. Anyway.
Sandberg: In America, we’ve had a country of entrepreneurs.
Sandberg: We’ve set up our political system so you can start companies. You can close companies. I think people don’t always see the costs of increasing beauracracy on entrepreneurship. The best people are going to go where they can get the best talent and where they have the best environment to hire.
Why Facebook won’t build games:
Zuckerberg: “What we’re doing is really hard. And we think that we’re better off focusing on this piece. I think that building a great game service is really hard… And we just believe that an independent entrepreneur will always beat a division of a big company.”
On Steve Jobs:
Zuckerberg: “He’s amazing. He was amazing… I had a lot of questions for him on.. How to build a team around you, right, that’s focused on building as high quality and good things as you are. How to keep an organization focused…It’s like we’re trying to do this thing in the world. And I don’t know, a lot of it I just think we connected on that level.”
There was a little hesitancy when Rose asked if Jobs ever wanted to buy Facebook. But Zuckerberg recounts that Jobs once said, “I admire Facebook because you guys don’t want to sell out.”
Here’s the preview of the show: