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Zuckerberg to take center stage today at tech conference

Mark Zuckerberg is giving his first live interview since the Facebook IPO today. Let's hope he's frank about how he's addressing the company's problems.

Mark Zuckerberg James Martin/CNET

Mark Zuckerberg, who has been all-but-silent since Facebook's May IPO, will sit down for a live interview this afternoon at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco.

Admittedly, he'll be speaking to a friendly crowd of startup founders and hard-core techies -- it's much harder to imagine him appearing at, say, a Goldman Sachs conference -- but he'll surely be grilled on an array of topics. TechCrunch founder-turned-venture-investor Michael Arrington will conduct the interview.

Let's hope Zuckerberg is frank. For sure, he'll continue to talk about how Facebook is built of the long haul and that he's not going to cater to the short-term desires of Wall Street. We know that. And yet, given the stock's performance -- halved since going public in May -- he can't ignore that he has a short-term problem on his hand.

Tune in to CNET's live coverage here at 2 p.m. PT

In many ways, Facebook pulled off a brilliant IPO. Facebook managed to pocket $10 billion in cash after all was said and done. That's huge. But most of Zuckerberg's 4,000 employees hold restricted stock, and surely it's a drain on morale for all those workers to watch their dreams of new cars and houses fade.

So let's hope Zuck talks about that. Those employees -- and those investors who bought Facebook stock when it was way higher -- want to hear some short-term plans as well as long-term vision. There are plenty of ways to make some more money, so let's hear about which ones you're open to.

What else? There's that mobile problem that you keep getting hammered on. Your approach withso-called Sponsored Stories is working well -- but it's still small. So let's have an update about that and all things mobile.

And speaking of morale, this is a big opportunity for Zuckerberg to show how confident he still is, to rally others around his vision. Before the IPO, he was everybody's hero. Now, critics are screaming for his head (not possible, of course, since Zuckerberg's Class B shares give him a majority of the votes). But this turn of events can't be fun, and now's the chance for Zuckerberg to persuade us -- and his constituents -- to keep the faith.