Facebook CEO speaks of ‘mistakes’ in frank birthday message

zuckerberg facebook birthday message mark

In a frank message posted on Facebook’s 14th birthday, the man that helped build the world’s most popular social networking service admitted that along the way, he’d made “almost every mistake that you can imagine.”

Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a post on his social network that he wanted to take a moment “to reflect on how far we’ve come from that dorm room at Harvard and how far we still have to go to bring the world closer together.”

Displaying a degree of honesty that some may find surprising for the boss of a major business, Zuckerberg said that when he started Facebook at the age of 19, he “didn’t know anything about building a company or global internet service.”

Among the myriad of mistakes he confessed to making over the years were “dozens of technical errors and bad deals.” He also said he “trusted the wrong people and I’ve put talented people in the wrong roles,” adding, “I’ve missed important trends and I’ve been slow to others. I’ve launched product after product that failed.”

But having built the biggest social networking site in the world — one with more than two billion people monthly active users — Zuckerberg has clearly made a few wise decisions in that time, too.

Indeed, some of those decisions led to Facebook raking in a shade under $13 billion in revenue for its most recent quarter, resulting in a $4.3 billion profit.

‘We’ll fail again and again’

The Zuck said the mistakes are part and parcel of the company’s success, and says he knows “full well that we’ll fail again and again,” adding that such falls are “the only way to make progress.”

Suggesting that Facebook intends to be around for a very long time to come — and few will argue with that considering its current position — the CEO said, “We are still early in this journey and we will keep working to improve. That focus has always been our strength, and that’s what this year is all about.”

Indeed, Facebook is currently dealing with some of its biggest challenges to date, with its sheer size and resulting influence placing it under ever greater scrutiny. Critics have lambasted it over abuse and hate speech on the site, as well as its failure to prevent outside interference in U.S. elections.

To address some of these issues, Zuckerberg in January announced further changes to Facebook’s news feed in an apparent shift back toward its roots, with more focus on posts by friends and family. Other tweaks to the news feed made in 2017 have resulted in users spending 50 million fewer hours on Facebook globally each day. The CEO said last week he’d been expecting the drop and reassured shareholders by pointing toward a significant increase in year-on-year ad revenue.

“Helping people connect is more important than maximizing the time they spend on Facebook,” Zuckerberg commented last week after seeing the data.