Those investors buying Facebook shares next month and hoping the company will put the revenue pedal to the medal will probably need to be a little more patient.
In an interview with the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung today, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says the company is focused on growth first, revenue second. (Note these translations are not perfect.)
What every great internet company has done is to figure out a way to make money that has to match to what they are doing on the site. I don’t think social networks can be monetized in the same way that search did. But on both sites people find information valuable. I’m pretty sure that we will find an analogous business model. But we are experimenting already. One group is very focused on targeting; another part is focused on social recommendation from your friends. In three years from now we have to figure out what the optimum model is. But that is not our primary focus today… Growth is primary, revenue is secondary.
And when asked about a potential IPO:
No, we are really not planning to go public. For the next few years we are really focused on user growth.
Finally, when asked about why the company is allowing employees to sell up to 20% of their vested shares (up to $900K), Zuckerberg answered:
We are not going public for a while. So we want the people to have enough money to life [sic] for the period of time until we go public. In the early days of Facebook I was able to get 900000 dollar of liquidity. That made a pretty big deal to me. We want engineers or other people in the company don’t have to worry about simple things.
With probably somewhere between $300-$400 million in the bank from a combination of recent equity investments and debt financings, it makes sense for Facebook to make sure they build out a widely adopted communications platform before trying to aggressively squeeze money out of the system.