When Mark Zuckerberg took to the stage at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco on Tuesday, he was well aware of the importance of what was his first interview since Facebook went public back in May.
With shares hitting a low of $17.55 last week – way down from their $38 launch price – the 28-year-old CEO was keen to calm the nerves of investors by clearing up various issues surrounding the social networking site and its plans for the future.
The 30-minute appearance evidently did some good, with stock rising $1.50, or 7.7 percent, to $20.93 in trading on Wednesday. It may not have been the kind of increase he’d been hoping for, but hey, it’s heading in the right direction – for now, at least.
Speaking to the LA Times about Zuckerberg’s performance, Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter said, ”He said what he needed to: He and Facebook care about shareholders, he is aware of and troubled by the low share price, he appears to believe the stock is undervalued, and appears to understand that he has to communicate Facebook’s strategy more clearly going forward.”
Another analyst, Macquarie Securities’ Ben Schachter, said it was vital for Zuckerberg to make more appearances like this, enabling him to communicate with investors directly. “Better understanding Zuckerberg’s priorities, motivation and general focus is a positive for investors,” Schachter said.
At Disrupt’s Q&A on Tuesday, Zuckerberg said the performance of the company’s stock “has obviously been disappointing” but added that “we do things to build value over the long term.”
Earlier this month, in another attempt to restore investor confidence, Facebook said in an SEC filing that Zuckerberg has no intention of selling any of his more than 500 million Facebook shares for at least the next year.
The announcement came after some of the company’s major investors unloaded a portion of their stock. Early investor Peter Thiel unloaded the majority of his shares – about 20 million of a total of 25 million – in the middle of August, followed a few days later by Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz, who sold a much smaller amount.