ANNUAL MEETING: Mark Zuckerberg On The New ‘Move Fast And Break Things’

By David Cohen 

MoveFastAndBreakThings650Facebook Co-Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg was asked during the company’s annual meeting Thursday at the Sofitel San Francisco Bay in Redwood City, Calif., to discuss how the social network balances innovation with risk-taking.

Zuckerberg replied:

So I guess the one philosophy I have on running a company is that you get to choose what you emphasize, and at the end of the day, you get what you put your time into and what you put your money behind. And one thing that we’ve always cared about is moving fast. Technology companies have this interesting property, where there are some things that benefit as they grow. Like we have this bigger community, and that’s valuable because now for new people signing up, all the people they want to connect with are generally are going to be on Facebook. But at the same time, as the company grows, the company is actually gets broader.

So what we’ve aimed to do is have Facebook always be very fast for the number of people that we have. So right now, we have less than 10,000 employees. Every other company that I can think of that serves anywhere near the number of people that we have has tens or hundreds of thousands of employees. So one way that we move quickly is just by trying to stay lean, but it’s always an ongoing effort, and you have to make trade-offs in order to be able to move quickly. So historically one of the trade-offs that we made was we tolerated some defects in the product.

So we said it’s OK if the product isn’t 100 percent perfect, because as long as we can move quickly and learn quickly, then we’ll end up building a better product for people over time, even if today there is a flaw or some small flaws in the product. What we found over time is that now we have so many people who are building at Facebook that when they are small issues, people then have to go back and fix those issues, and it actually ends up taking more time if you develop with these flaws then if you just did it correctly the first time.

So now we are choosing to make a different set of trade-offs. And instead of move fast and break things, which typically meant move fast while allowing some flaws, what we’re doing is moving fast by instead building really good stable infrastructure, on top of which we can build really quickly, because we have good solid infrastructure, and that allows you to move around and do different things very quickly. So now our strategy for moving quickly has really been about investing upfront in building the best infrastructure and tools to enable us to develop in the industry that we think we’re going to continue to lead in, and we think we’re going to continue to be able to move very quickly because of that.

Readers: What did you think of Zuckerberg’s answer?