Mark Zuckerberg Touts Immigration Reform, Criticizes NSA as Facebook Stock Hits New High

Mark Zuckerberg
Mark Zuckerberg
 

Facbook stock hit a new high on Wednesday, and shortly thereafter CEO Mark Zuckerberg recommended that Twitter and other young tech companies not fear an initial public offering, even though Facebook's was so tumultuous 16 months ago.

Zuckerberg acknowledged that he might be "the person you want to ask last how to make a smooth IPO," but he said that the Facebook IPO forced him to learn every little detail about the company he co-founded.

As a result, he said: "We run our company a lot better now."

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Facebook shares famously dropped more than 50 percent in the months after its IPO, though once investors and analysts figured out the company had a mobile strategy, the stock has been surging. On Wednesday, shares rose 3 percent to $45.04, and Zuckerberg boasted that the company went from basically zero percent of its revenue coming from mobile to 40 percent in about a year.

Zuckerberg, speaking at the TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2013 conference, said there are 1.15 billion active monthly users on Facebook, though he said the one billion threshold is rather random, since it represents an awkward one-seventh of the world population.

"Connecting the next five billion will be really hard," he quipped, "because a lot of people don't have Internet access."

Zuckerberg also spent time talking up one of his pet projects of late, which is "full, comprehensive immigration reform," a cause he adopted when a student in a middle-school class he taught recently lamented he might not be able to go to college because he is "undocumented."

Facebook is also involved in legal proceedings stemming from the U.S. government's NSA program known as Prism. Facebook, along with Yahoo, Microsoft and Google have asked to "be allowed to publish detailed statistics about the types (if any) of national security requests we receive under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act."

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On Wednesday, Zuckerberg said the government "blew it" by not being more transparent in what it was up to.

"The morning after this started breaking, a bunch of people were asking them what they thought," Zuckerberg said of NSA officials. "[They said], 'Don't worry, we're not spying on any Americans.' Wonderful. That's really helpful for companies trying to work with people around the world. Thanks for going out there and being clear. I think that was really bad."

Zuckerberg also revealed his latest yearly goal: "Meet a new person outside of Facebook every day." In the past, his goals included to eat only meat he has personally killed for a year and to learn Mandarin Chinese, though acknowledged he "tabled" the latter when it became too difficult.

E-mail: Paul.Bond@THR.com

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