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Time for Zuckerberg to Ask for Help: Experts

Wednesday, 22 Aug 2012 | 3:26 PM ET
Mark Zuckerberg
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg should loosen his grip over his social networking empire and let some of the more experienced managers take the reigns, before it's too late, two CNBC contributors cautioned on Wednesday.

"Running a public company is a distinctly different experience and requires different skill sets then running a venture funded start-up," said Carly Fiorina, CNBC contributor and former Hewlett-Packard CEO. "Mark would do well to take the advice of people who have done it before and I hope his board is providing him with that advice."

But Facebook's board seems a little shaky these days.

It was revealed earlier this week that early investor and Facebook board member Peter Thiel unloaded the majority of his stake in Facebook as soon as the lock-up expired last Thursday. Thiel's stock sale, although pre-determined before Facebook's initial public offering in May, was ill-timed. (Read More: Investor Thiel Unloads Most of His Facebook Shares)

Facebook's stock has been in decline since the company went public, and was trading at a little more than half it's IPO price of $38 when Thiel sold his stake.

Thiel dumped about 20 million Facebook, but retains 5 million shares, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Many investors questioned whether Thiel's move was a sign that Facebook was a sinking ship. Some claimed his stock dump meant he was not committed to the company and called for his resignation from the board of directors. (Read More:Say Goodnight Peter? Thiel Should Quit Facebook Board: Pro)

Silicon Valley CEO Report Card
Carly Fiorina, former HP Chairman & CEO, and Gordon Bethune, former CEO of Continental Airlines, rate Facebook and Groupon's leadership.

Regardless of investors' opinion, Thiel's stock sale sends a bad message to the marketplace and raises concern about whether or not Zuckerberg knows how to run a public company, said Gordon Bethune, CNBC contributor and former CEO continental airlines.

"When you have an insider dump a large percentage of his shares, especially a board member, it sends a really bad signal, regardless whether it's warranted or not," Bethune said on CNBC's Halftime Wednesday.

And with Facebook's stock trading at about the half the IPO price, the company can't afford any "bad signals" to the market, Bethune said.

"I think he needs some help in setting expectations and making his earnings prospects so people understand what he is doing and how he is going to achieve those goals. Right now it's not clear," Bethune said.

Fiorina said while blaming Zuckerberg for Facebook's stock trouble isn't completely fair, considering the stock was "overhyped" at its IPO, it's not uncommon for founders of young companies to stunt their companies growth because they are unwilling to accept they don't have all the skill sets necessary to run a company.

"The difficulty is when a founder who has been incredibly successful up to this phase in a company's development, digs in their heels and says 'I don't need any help, I've taken us this far,' and unfortunately that happens a lot," Fiorina said on CNBC's Halftime Wednesday. "It's a little bit like saying, 'I ride a jet ski really well, therefore I can power an ocean liner.' They are totally different experiences."



email: tech@cnbc.com

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  • Matt Hunter is the senior technology editor at CNBC.com.

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