FACEBOOK CEO Mark Zuckerberg is relishing the opportunity to prove his critics wrong after seeing his company's stock get pummelled on Wall Street this summer.
"I WOULD rather be in a cycle where people underestimate us because I'd rather be underestimated," Zuckerberg said.
"I think it gives us the latitude to go out and make some big bets."
Zuckerberg (28) made his remarks before a standing-room-only audience at a tech conference in San Francisco in his first interview since Facebook Inc.'s rocky initial public offering (IPO) in May.
The social networking leader's stock has lost nearly half its value since the IPO, with more than $50bn lopped off Facebook's market value.
No one has lost as much as Zuckerberg himself, who has seen the value of his Facebook holdings fall more than $9bn.
Wearing a grey t-shirt, jeans and runners, Zuckerberg looked at ease through his half-hour appearance. He smiled frequently and even laughed a few times before a San Francisco audience composed largely of fellow tech-geeks who, like him, tend to enjoy talking about computer coding and building cool products instead of discussing revenue growth and business strategies.
Yet Zuckerberg was clearly aiming many of his remarks at investors. He emphasised that Facebook cared about making money as well as pursuing his mission to make the world a "more open and connected place".
He also repeated his belief that the company would come up with ways to profit from the growing number of its 955 million worldwide users who visit the site through mobile applications instead of web browsers on desktop computers.
Zuckerberg said the performance of Facebook's stock "has obviously been disappointing," and will probably cause some employees to defect.
But he hopes most workers will stay and "double down" on Facebook's future.
"I think it is really easy for folks to underestimate how really fundamentally good mobile is for us," Zuckerberg told his interviewer, former blogger turned venture capitalist Michael Arrington, at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference.
Some investors evidently liked what Zuckerberg had to say. Facebook shares gained 66 cents, or 3.4pc in Tuesday's extended trading after he took the stage.
The ubiquity of smartphones has created problems for Facebook and other advertising-dependent internet companies because the smaller screens have less space to show commercial messages around the main content.
One way Facebook will address that challenge is by inserting more ads into the mobile news feeds that highlight status updates and photos, according to Zuckerberg.