Microsoft Engineer Mark Zuckerberg? It Could Have Happened

By David Cohen 

Reporting for work at Microsoft: Mark Zuckerberg? Facebook’s co-founder and CEO said it could very well have happened if the social network hadn’t taken off, and his conversation with Y Combinator Co-Founder Paul Graham at Stanford University’s Memorial Hall Saturday touched on several other topics, including the future of sharing, MySpace, and advice for startups.

Zuckerberg on his time at Harvard and the early days of Facebook, via Mail Online and AllThingsD:

My life is a long history of people thinking I would drop out of school long before I did. I started building Facebook because I wanted it at college, which is one of the ironies, since I then left college.

Facebook did grow quickly, but it took one year for us to get 1 million users. It wasn’t as quick as a lot of things grow today. Having that time to bake was valuable for us.

We first went to schools that were hardest to succeed at. If we had a product that was better than others, it would be worth investing in.

Zuckerberg on Palo Alto, Calif., via Mail Online:

I thought it would be neat to be around some of these great companies. One day we will find something, but surely this isn’t it.

Zuckerberg on working for Microsoft in the event Facebook never took off, via Mail Online:

I probably would have taken an engineering job. I always had a lot of respect for Microsoft. A lot of people from Harvard went to work there.

Zuckerberg on the future of sharing, via CNET and Mail Online:

It’s sort of a social-networking version of Moore’s Law. We expect this rate (of sharing) will double every 10 years. So in 10 years from now, people will be sharing about 1,000 times as many things as they do today.

One definition of technology is that it extends human capability … a social network extends people’s real social capacity.

Zuckerberg on adding photo sharing to Facebook, via TechCrunch:

We really listened to what our users wanted, both qualitatively listening to the words they say, and quantitatively looking at behavior that they take. Users didn’t necessarily say they wanted photos, but they were uploading new profile pics every day.

Zuckerberg on MySpace, via The Next Web:

For MySpace, it was great earlier to help you meet new people. For Facebook, the company was more focused about staying in touch with all your friends, family, and people you already knew. Eventually, MySpace shifted its comprehension of Facebook and felt it needed to compete with the service to succeed. It was then that MySpace went ahead and copied everything that they’ve been doing, and that is serving their business badly.

Zuckerberg’s advice for startups, via TechCrunch and Mail Online:

I never understood the idea of wanting to start a company before (knowing what the company should accomplish). I think people really undervalue the option value in flexibility.

Explore what you want to do before committing. Keep yourself flexible. You can definitely do that in the framework of a company, but you have to be weary of working at a company and getting locked in. You’re going to change what you do.

A lot of companies I see are working on small problems, and that’s fine if you want to be an entrepreneur, but the most interesting things operate on a fundamental level. Companies getting started now are trying to copy stuff others are doing and just aren’t going to be successful.