Closing out the public session of the F8 conference Wednesday morning, Facebook's chief executive showed a rare personal side as he riffed on life, love, and the company he co-founded a decade ago.
"It's a reflective period for me personally," Mark Zuckerberg told the crowd of developers who had gathered to hear something new about Facebook's technology and strategy. They also got a peek at a Zuckerberg who rarely gets put on public display.
"We just reached Facebook's 10th anniversary as a company," he said. "In a couple of weeks I'm turning 30. Who doesn't like a birthday? And just a little while ago I just also celebrated the 10-year anniversary of when I met my wife for the first time."
The reflections were made during the developer conference that's been on hiatus for the past three years. Zuckerberg primarily used the event to position his company as the foundation for all the world's mobile apps, and announced new tools like the Audience Network to help developers make money and Anonymous Login to assist them in gaining members' trust.
Zuckerberg's message took on a more sentimental tone as he closed out the keynote address. The culmination of major life events, he said, made him think about what's really important: family, Facebook, and philanthropy. But he didn't forget the community of developers who helped support his company, and he made a pledge to his audience:
"We want to help you guys touch people's lives," Zuckerberg said, adding that "we've already done so much together" as he personally thanked the developer community for staying with Facebook over the years.
The vow tied in nicely with an earlier discussed monumental shift in company culture from breaking things to fixing them, which Zuckerberg hopes will give developers the confidence to build their apps with Facebook.
"My goal for our culture over the next 10 years is to build a culture of loving the people that we serve that is as strong, if not stronger than, our culture of hacking at Facebook," he said.
In all, it wasn't as if we saw a changed man, but we did see a Zuckerberg who, for a short time, let himself be vulnerable, seemingly as part of a desire to share the grandiosity of the moment with a crowd who helped make Facebook grow.
Of course, he'll need to do a lot more than wax philosophical to keep developers connected to his platform and earn their trust. The company's more than healthy advertising business and multifaceted approach to growth, however, should give the nearly 30-year-old CEO at least a few years to prove his remarks are genuine.