Mark Zuckerberg on Steve Jobs and whether Apple tried to buy Facebook

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Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg claimed that Apple never tried to buy Facebook, and disclosed candid details about his conversations with Steve Jobs, in an exclusive interview with broadcast journalist Charlie Rose.

VentureBeat has obtained the full transcript of the Charlie Rose interview, set to air Monday night on PBS.

The conversation also included Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. The trio discussed Facebook’s reluctance to enter China, the company’s competition with Google, Amazon and Apple, and its plans for an IPO.

On the subject of Steve Jobs, Zuckerberg told Rose, “He was amazing.”

“I mean … I had a lot of questions for him on … How to build a team around you, right, that’s focused on building as high quality and good things as you are. How to keep an organization focused, right, when I think the tendency for larger companies is to try to fray and go into all these different areas,” Zuckerberg said.

Zuckerberg and Jobs shared a vision for building great companies and well-designed products. The pair developed a rapport over their commonalities, Zuckerbeg said.

“Apple is a company that is so focused on just building products that — for their customers and their users. And — and that’s like — it’s such a deep part of their mission is build these beautiful products for their users,” Zuckerberg said. “I think we connected a lot on this level of, okay, Facebook has this mission that’s really more than just trying to build a company, right, that has a market cap or a value. It’s like we’re trying to do this thing in the world. And I don’t know, a lot of it I just think we connected on that level.”

Also worthy of note is a strange exchange between Rose, Zuckerberg and Sandberg on whether Apple was interested in acquiring Facebook.

“Did [Jobs] ever suggest that Apple might buy Facebook?” Rose asked.

“No. I don’t think it ever really got there. I mean, nor would I have wanted to sell it,” Zuckerberg responded initially.

Zuckerberg later appeared to be on the cusp of revealing that — just maybe — acquisition talks did, in fact, take place. But Sandberg interjected at each turn. Zuckerberg concluded by saying that talks, “probably … just wouldn’t have come up.”

We’re not entirely convinced. Here’s the exchange, from the official transcript of the interview:

Charlie Rose:
Did he ever suggest that Apple might buy Facebook?

Mark Zuckerberg:
No. I don’t think it ever really got there. I mean, nor would I have wanted to sell it. He — and I remember talking to him –

Sheryl Sandberg:
And I think he would have known that.

Mark Zuckerberg:
Yeah. And I — I mean –

Sheryl Sandberg:
I talked to you about this and like I think –

Charlie Rose:
About what, about the buying –

Sheryl Sandberg:
I think he understood Mark enough to know that Mark didn’t want to sell his company because he didn’t want to sell –

Charlie Rose:
Did he raise the question with you?

Sheryl Sandberg:
No, but he — I think he –

Mark Zuckerberg:
Yeah.

Sheryl Sandberg:
— having talked to him about Facebook and Apple, I — he didn’t raise it, but I don’t think he would have because he would have understood that about Mark.

Mark Zuckerberg:
Actually, I mean, I think there was –

Sheryl Sandberg:
He’s just like him. He wouldn’t have wanted to sell his company.

[talking simultaneously]

Charlie Rose:
Go ahead.

Mark Zuckerberg:
There is this quote I think in the book that just came out about him where, I mean, it’s –

Charlie Rose:
The Walter Isaacson book.

Mark Zuckerberg:
Yeah. I mean, it’s — and I took it as this amazing compliment. He said, I admire
Facebook because you guys don’t want to sell out.

Charlie Rose:
Right.

Mark Zuckerberg:
Right, so I actually think that –

Sheryl Sandberg:
And I don’t think he would have asked.

Mark Zuckerberg:
I know that’s one of the ways in which — in which we saw eye to eye on kind of what we were trying to do in the world. And I just think because of that, it probably –

Sheryl Sandberg:
Yeah.

Mark Zuckerberg:
— just wouldn’t have come up.

[Transcript and excerpt via Charlie Rose. Image via Andrew Feinberg]


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