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Mark Zuckerberg stayed away from hot-button issues in his speech today - and the audience liked it

  • Mark Zuckerberg barely talked about issues like fake news and violence at F8
  • Analysts appreciated his business focus
  • Developers were happy he stuck to the product news that helps them make money, too
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers the keynote address at Facebook's F8 Developer Conference on April 18, 2017 at McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California.
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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers the keynote address at Facebook's F8 Developer Conference on April 18, 2017 at McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California.

At the start of his keynote address to Facebook's annual developer conference in San Jose, CA, on Tuesday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg held up a copy of the 6,000-word letter he wrote in February — in which he laid out his vision for creating a better global community — and joked that he was about to read it.

He didn't.

After another quick detour to mention how the company was working harder to keep violent content off its Live video service, Zuckerberg quickly dove in to another vision more germane to his audience: His company's plans for the future of so-called augmented reality, or AR, in which digital objects are overlaid onto images and videos of the real world.

Zuckerberg's focus on products — rather than his company's role in shaping the world, as mentioned in his manifesto two months ago — was a reminder of why tech investors have come to love Facebook, giving it a market value over $400 billion.

"They're going to do what makes money" for the company and its third-partly developers, said Patrick Moorhead, an industry analyst with Moor Insights and Strategy who attended Zuckerberg's speech.

That means getting more people to use the site more often, said Moorhead, via things like language translation tools for Facebook Pages and intelligent 'bots' for Facebook Messenger.

Rather than a treatise on how Zuckerberg and company can make the world a better place, "What we saw this morning was an all-out attack on Snapchat," said Moorhead.

"They're capitalists," Moorhead added. "I liked what I heard."

So did other attendees, including the developers flocking to packed afternoon sessions at San Jose's McEnery Convention Center.

Peter Buchroitner, CEO of Swell, a 15-person startup with offices in Vienna, Austria, and Santa Monica, CA, was excited that the company had launched tools that make it easier for developers to get their chatbots on the Messenger platform.

"There are more opportunities for discovery," said Buchroitner, whose company's bot reached the milestone of 3 million users this week -- and was featured in a video clip played during an f8 presentation by Facebook's David Marcus.

The exposure "makes us more interesting to businesses, " he added.

A Wall Street analyst who has long been bullish on Facebook shares also was glad to see Zuckerberg stick to technology in his speech.

"They're staying focused on things that increase engagement," on the site, said Mark Mahaney of RBC Capital, who has an 'outperform' rating on the company's shares.

That includes aping AR photo features pioneered by Snapchat, Facebook's smaller rival.

"Snapchat showed what you could do with a camera. Now Facebook is going after them hard," Mahaney said.