SAN FRANCISCO -- The running joke at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference was that the arctic temperature in the room was to keep Mark Zuckerberg from sweating up a storm on stage.
The event organizers could have turned up the heat.
Zuckerberg spoke rapid fire –- so much so that his interviewer Michael Arrington had trouble keeping up with his barreling train of thought –- but kept his cool, even when Arrington raised the sensitive subject of Facebook’s botched initial public stock offering.
Of course, the seat in the spotlight isn’t nearly as hot as it was a year ago when Zuckerberg took the stage at Disrupt. Zuckerberg has had a lot of time to make peace with that tumultuous chapter in Facebook’s history. And the company’s stock price has climbed to an all-time high of $45.
But Zuckerberg said for the first time on Wednesday that he has become a fan of the IPO.
Say what? Zuckerberg has learned to love being a publicly traded company?
The hoodie-clad CEO famous for wanting Facebook to remain a private company for as long as possible –- and advising all other Silicon Valley startups to do the same -- now says he should never have been afraid of the IPO.
“I’ve been very outspoken about staying private for as long as possible. I don’t think it’s that necessary to do that,” Zuckerberg said.
He did speak of the turbulent first year as a public company and how he worried Facebook employees would jump ship or crumple under sinking morale.
Now he says Facebook is better off than it was before. He noted that Facebook built a strong mobile advertising business after the IPO.
“I actually think that it’s made our company a lot stronger,” Zuckerberg said. “We run our company a lot better now.”
In responding to a question about Twitter’s IPO expected as soon as early 2014, Zuckerberg delivered the line that brought down the house.
“I’m kind of the person you would want to ask last about how to make a smooth IPO,” he said.
Well played, sir.