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Zuckerberg: Facebook is all about growth

Just how do you best monetize the strikingly popular social network? The CEO reckons they'll have that problem licked in about three years.

Maybe it's advice he heard from a career counselor at Harvard and took to heart: Do what you love, and the money will follow. For now, what Mark Zuckerberg wants most for Facebook is to see it grow and grow and grow some more, without too much fretting over the bottom line.

In an interview with a blogger for the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Facebook's co-founder and CEO minced no words on the matter: "Growth is primary, revenue is secondary."

Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg
Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg at the D6 conference in May. Dan Farber/CNET News

Of course, it could be less a philosophical matter than a practical one for a site that's still sketching out its plans for making money to match its popularity. And bless his heart, even in a tanking global economy, Zuckerberg suggests there's plenty of time for that. He elaborates:

But what every great Internet company has done is to figure out a way to make money that has to match to what they are doing on the site. I don't think social networks can be monetized in the same way that search did. But on both sites people find information valuable. I'm pretty sure that we will find an analogous business model. But we are experimenting already. One group is very focused on targeting; another part is focused on social recommendation from your friends. In three years from now we have to figure out what the optimum model is.

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating officer, said essentially the same thing over the summer--the social network's focus is on growth.

How do the two executives divvy up their responsibilities? Zuckerberg said of Sandberg, who joined Facebook about six months ago:

She is an excellent manager. She is very good in building our international organization. I'm focused on the direction of the company, especially of the product development, and the overall strategy. I spend a lot of time working with engineers and product developers. We work together hand in hand.

He also made it clear who's boss: "Me!"

On Friday, Zuckerberg will be taking part in a "fireside chat" at the Future of Web Apps conference in London.

For the full interview, including Zuckerberg's take on Facebook's Windows Live Search deal, its international growth, and the possibility of an IPO, see " Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg: Our focus is growth, not revenue."