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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg takes questions, gives few answers at Web 2.0 Summit

November 6, 2008 |  4:19 pm

Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergHe had traded his trademark sandals for tennis shoes, but Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg was still sporting his same old North Face fleece and that uncanny confidence beyond his 24 years.

Sitting with his back straighter than a steel rod, he calmly fielded questions from John Battelle at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco today, batting a bemused smile from time to time.

"Do you need money?" Battelle asked about Facebook.

"No," Zuckerberg replied.

Last year, Battelle revved up the audience at the Internet industry gathering by asking Zuckerberg, "How's the financing going?" right before Facebook -- the Web darling du jour -- received a $240-million cash injection from Microsoft at a $15-billion valuation.

Now speculation is spreading in Silicon Valley that the social networking site, which last year also got another $120 million from Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-Shing, is again raising money as it ...

... continues to experience growth spurts in employees (now about 700) and users (now about 125 million). Facebook Chief Financial Officer Gideon Yu was rumored recently to be in Dubai on a fundraising trip.

"Trips to Dubai?" Battelle said.

"Apparently it's nice this time of year," Zuckerberg said.

Later, Zuckerberg commented: "I don't think taking money at a certain price sets the strategy of the company. ... We don't feel any pressure to live up to $15 billion. We will do the best we can to build a really good business."

He also emphasized that while he may have repeated in recent months that his company is focused on growing bigger, not making money, that doesn't mean it isn't working hard on the latter too. He declined to offer any details on how successful Facebook had been in delivering for advertisers. Social networks have generated great interest because of the loads of personal information their members volunteer.

As for Microsoft, Zuckerberg said the relationship remained strong and innovative.

"Do you think Steve Ballmer is happy with the price he paid?" Battelle asked, referring to Microsoft's CEO.

"I think the deal is about more than the investment," Zuckerberg replied. "They have been a really good partner for us."

Reaction to Zuckerberg in the auditorium was subdued. Commented one person: "That was a real snoozer."

-- Jessica Guynn

Photo: Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg. Credit: Brian Solis

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