Facebook IPO Letter and Other Communications

As analysts value Facebook in anticipation of the initial public offering, let's look at some of the company's internal and external communications. One interesting message is a poster, distributed around Facebook's offices to keep the employees focused during the IPO. This photo is of Mark Zuckerberg's desk, which he posted on Facebook (and more than 71,000 people found worthy of "liking"). 

FB Stay FocusedZuckerberg's letter to potential investors describes the vision, mission, and priorities of the company. Mashable compiled ten "standout quotes" including the following:

  • "At Facebook, we're inspired by technologies that have revolutionized how people spread and consume information. We often talk about inventions like the printing press and the television - by simply making communication more efficient, they led to a complete transformation of many important parts of society. They gave more people a voice. They encouraged progress. They changed the way society was organized. They brought us closer together."
  • "Simply put: we don't build services to make money; we make money to build better services."

Quotes such as the last, according to Mashable, make Facebook "sound like it's set out to deliver presents and free education to underprivileged children." 

James Pennebaker, psychology department chair at the University of Texas, analyzed Zuckerberg's letter and compared it to other CEOs' IPO letters. According to Pennebaker, the letter revealed the following about Zuckerberg, reported by Forbes:

"Zuckerberg's word use 'suggests someone who is driven by very high rates of need for achievement' but low rates for building wealth or social affiliation, Pennebaker concludes. 'Most of the Zuckerberg letter is emotionally distant,' the researcher adds. 'There are very few personal pronouns (which typically signal an emotional cognition to other humans) and virtually no I-words except for a couple of paragraphs in the middle of the letter.' Emotive words such as 'happy' or 'sad' are rare, too."

Pennebaker also found, "The author is very much in the here-and-now, as opposed to deep analysis of the past or even directions for the future."

Discussion Starters:

  • Compare Zuckerberg's IPO letter to Zynga's. What differences do you notice, and how do you account for them?
  • Is the letter consistent with your view of Facebook? Why or why not?
  • Do you buy Pennebaker's analysis of Zuckerberg's letter as "emotionally distant"?