TODAY   |  October 04, 2012

Facebook CEO on 1 billion users: ‘It’s incredible’

In an NBC News exclusive, Matt Lauer interviews press-shy Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg about the future of his company and its 1 billion users, his plan for weathering staffers’ morale after a disappointing stock market launch and how he and wife Priscilla Chan pulled off the surprise wedding of the year.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> down with the social network 's creator and ceo mark zuckerberg for a rare, revealing and exclusive interview.

>> three years ago, we sat down in the studio, you were at 175 million users, three years later, 1 billion. that's with a "b." what does it mean to you? not to a company, to you personally?

>> there's no way when we were getting started with this i would have ever thought that, myself or any of the people around me would be able to be a part of something like this. it's incredible.

>> reporter: what's also incredible is that mark zuckerberg has changed the way the world interacts and communicates, a feat he's accomplished at the age of 28.

>> people look at you and say not only is this visionary and the technical guy, this is the ceo. i was reading an article and it said this is a guy who is learning as he goes, like taking flying lessons but you're in a cockpit of a 747 and there are people in the plane. how do you feel about that?

>> well, i take the responsibility extremely seriously. and our responsibility as a company is just to do the best that we can and build the best products for people. and if we build the best products , then i think that we can continue leading in the space for a long time. that's what we need to stay focused on.

>> will it happen naturally? you build the best product, can the company make money. i'm not a tech guy and i'm not really a business guy. and the question i ask myself and i hear over and over , if a company has a billion customers, how can they not be killing it making money ?

>> well, i think it depends on your definition of killing it. we are making billions of dollars, we're a public company , so i can talk about that. but the future is really going to be about mobile and the opportunities for growth there.

>> have you been slow to get there?

>> well, we do have the most used mobile apps. there's 5 billion people in the world that have phones, we should be able to serve many more people and grow the user base there.

>> while he's excited and optimistic about the future of his company, he's also aware of the setbacks.

>> let's do this.

>> facebook went public in may amidst a flurry of hype and anticipation, but the ipo was deemed disastrous by some, beset by trading glitches, the stock plunged about 40%, the value of the company decreased by billions.

>> an article i read said is mark zuckerberg in over his hoodie? do you think a ceo who has more experience than you might be able to take this company to the next level and leave you to develop the products?

>> i take this responsibility that i have really seriously. building the products and services and building the business go hand in hand .

>> many consider apple the gold standard . zuckerberg is friendly with apple's current ceo tim cook , but in many ways models himself after steve jobs .

>> what was the thing you observed about steve jobs that makes a difference in your life as a corporate executive every day?

>> he was just so focused, right? for him, the user experience was the main thing that mattered, the only thing that mattered. and i think there's a lot that every company can learn from that.

>> last weekend, apple sold about 5 million of their new iphone 5s. did you buy one?

>> tim actually sent one to me. it's a wonderful device.

>> you got a freebie? so are you now an iphone 5 user? is that the phone you've got in your pocket or back on your desk.

>> i use all of them.

>> are you just not playing favorites here?

>> iphone is a great platform. we actually, there are more people who use facebook on android. we spend our time building for all of these different things.

>> zuckerberg might seem overly careful with his words, but that's because he knows his company is at a critical crossroads.

>> i'm not giving you any news you don't know, but it's been a tough several months around here. what is morale like? a lot of these people came here thinking one thing was going to happen and it's changed.

>> we're obviously in a tough cycle now where -- that doesn't help morale. but at the same time, you know, people here are focused on the things that they're building.

>> you don't do a lot of interviews.

>> uh-huh.

>> and yet you did one not long ago at tech crunch justice of the peace apparently was pretty successful because the next day the company stock was up by about 7% or so. did you immediately think, i've got to get out there and do that more often. i'm going to do " dancing with the stars ," i'm going to do a reality show.

>> i only really want to go out and talk when there's something to say. a lot of people like being in the press all the time and that's not us.

>> attention from the press might not be something that mark zuckerberg seeks out, but he's found himself in the headlines and on magazine covers. for a side of his life he's tried to keep private.

>> it wasn't long ago earn still in harvard. and now not only have you become this incredible ceo of this huge company, your personal life is on the front page of magazines. the wedding on the front page of "people" magazine, how does that feel?

>> it's odd. and it's surprising. you know, it doesn't take away from these moments. the wedding was an awesome thing. we planned -- we intentionally didn't want a lot of attention. so what we did was, my wife and i planned it as a surprise. and i sent out this e-mail to all of our friends telling them i was having a surprise party for her for graduating from medical school . it was a small wedding, 80 or so people, but it was really nice. and then people want to write about it afterwards, fine, but i wanted to make it so that we can enjoy the moment because that's what it's about.

>> were you surprised by the interest?

>> to some extent i always get surprised when people focus on things that i think are at the margin of that.

>> the celebrity side of it.

>> but i try to keep everything just simple besides that. i mean, my lifestyle is extremely simple. i wear the same thing every day, right? if you could see my closet --

>> you have 12 of those t-shirts.

>> probably about 20. and my wife has a bunch of stuff, her drawers are primarily scrubs for the hospital, and i get one drawer.

>> are you telling me at home you have one drawer of a wardrobe closet?

>> like men everywhere.

>> not this guy. i've got a slightly bigger closet.

>> zuckerberg insists he's a simple guy, happy to be at the helm of the company he loves.

>> i just love what we're doing here. it's my -- it's the company's mission, my life's mission. i'm super excited about that.

>> interesting to see that. and if you want to catch more of matt's exclusive interview, you can watch it tonight on "rock center with brian williams " at 10:00 , 9:00 central time here on nbc.