At the intersection of technology, finance and the Pacific Rim.

Monday, October 26, 2009

How did Facebook get started?

Mark Zuckerberg, Founder and CEO of Facebook, was interviewed recently at "Start-up School", a training ground for people who want to start technology companies. Some key points made:

Difference between Google and Facebook:

"As we’ve grown it’s become more apparent to us how we’re different from other companies. Google is a technology I admire. It’s become apparent the way we’re different. They have a really strong academic culture. They do a lot of research and a lot of Ph.D’s. What we pride ourselves on is having a lot of impact, having a strong hacker culture, giving people a chance to grow — those are things that we work on. We have more than 300 million users and less than 300 engineers. The ratio of users to engineers is far more than any other company. One of the things we’re committed to is having a smaller team. We have frequent pushes for code. We encourage people to build a lot of their own stuff. We have a technology company that’s really a hacker company"

On People Management:

"Our goal isn’t necessarily to keep people forever. There are companies that train people really well. A lot of Harvard people went on to McKinsey. A lot of people went to IBM because that was the best place to learn sales. A lot of people go to USC to learn how to play football. One of the things at Facebook is have a place where it’s one of the best places to learn how to build stuff. If you want to learn how to build really good products and practices and have a large impact, I would argue there’s no better place to do that than at Facebook.....We’re not pretending we’re building a company that hackers are going to want to work at forever. I want to be a part of building some institutions to be a great hacker institution in the long-term."

On What He has learned about Running a Big Company:

Not clear that I’ve learned much. A lot of it is — I don’t know — you want to have the values and culture that you think are going to be unique and are going to be the best for what you’re going to be doing. You can move so much faster when you’re small. You get bigger and you get slower. We need to institutionally push moving really fast, or else it will just be inertia. I actually think a lot of the best stuff we’ve done is try not to take all the advice from other people. What I said the last time at startup school and I got yelled at — is it’s a group of entrepreneurs who are mostly technical. All of these people would tell me you have no experience. You’re just this engineer. You can’t do this. My message the last time was No. People interpret this as you don’t value experience. But you need to value what you bring to the table

On Risk-taking:

The biggest risk you can take it is to take no risk. In a world that’s moving quickly, you know that if you don’t change you’ll lose. Not taking risk is the riskiest thing you can do. You have to do things that are kind of bold even if they’re not obvious....Values are worthless unless they’re controversial. We want to move quickly. We’re willing to give up a huge amount of stuff in order to move quickly


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