Mark Zuckerberg has a clear message to Facebook investors: If you don't like the idea of initiatives like Internet.org, then get out of the stock.
That was the takeaway from an impassioned response Mark Zuckerberg gave during Facebook's earnings call Wednesday after an analyst questioned why investors should care about Internet.org, Facebook's ongoing effort to make the Internet accessible in developing markets around the world.
"It matters to the kinds of investors we want to have," said Zuckerberg, Facebook's founder and CEO, in a not-so-subtle dig at the question and any investors who may agree with its sentiment. "Part of the subtext of your question is that, yeah, if we are only focused on making money, we might put all of our energy into increasing ads to people in the U.S. and other countries."
Zuckerberg's suggestion is that Internet.org, which first launched in 2013, is not primarily about boosting the company's bottom line, though he said it may indeed prove to be a "good business opportunity" when the economies and ad markets in these developing markets mature.
"But this is why we’re here," he stated firmly. "We are here because our mission is to connect the world. I just think it's really important that investors know that."
Zuckerberg has at times fought back against the idea that Facebook is or should only be about making money. “If what I cared about was making more money, I’d take the people who are working on Internet.org … and have them go work on our ads product,” he said in a Q&A with Facebook users earlier this month.
The CEO also laid out his priorities in a letter to potential investors in the lead to Facebook’s IPO in 2012: “Facebook was not originally created to be a company. It was built to accomplish a social mission — to make the world more open and connected. We think it’s important that everyone who invests in Facebook understands what this mission means to us.”
The exchange on Wednesday came during an otherwise uneventful earnings call following a successful quarter for the social network. Facebook posted earnings of $0.54 per share on revenue of $3.85 billion, beating Wall Street estimates.