Mark Zuckerberg gave a long Q&A at Y Combinator’s Startup School yesterday. TechCrunch’s Leena Rao summarized some of his points.
Here’s one that jumped out:
Mark said if he were starting Facebook again, he’d have stayed in Boston. You don’t need to be in Silicon Valley to succeed, he says. And Silicon Valley suffers from short-termism, because most people are looking for the quick score:
If I were starting now I would do things very differently. I didn’t know anything. In Silicon Valley, you get this feeling that you have to be out here. But it’s not the only place to be. If I were starting now, I would have stayed in Boston. [Silicon Valley] is a little short-term focused and that bothers me.
He explained that he had a conversation once with Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos about this, and the average time someone stays in a job in Seattle is twice as long than it is in Silicon Valley. “There’s a culture out here where people don’t commit to doing things, I feel like a lot of companies built outside of Silicon Valley seem to be focused on a longer-term,” he explains. “You don’t have to move out here to do this.”
Mark’s right about how rare it is to find companies that are truly focused on the long-term. And he’s right that Amazon is one of them. But so are Apple and Oracle and Google and other Silicon Valley companies that were run for more than a decade by their founders. The country owes a debt of gratitude to companies like this, especially now. Facebook will clearly become one of those companies.
Mark’s other big point was that you have to make tons of mistakes to have a chance of succeeding. The biggest risk for startups, in fact, is being too afraid of making mistakes, because then you’ll be certain to fail.
And Mark’s willingness to make mistakes has indeed been critical to Facebook’s success, which is something that many Facebook critics miss. I talked about that last year in a presentation at the Pivot Conference.
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