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The Maturation of Mark Zuckerberg -- New York Magazine


Stashed in: Startups, Facebook!, Focus!, Communication, CEOs, @hblodget, FB

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Good read.

This is a very important point:

"All great consumer-technology products share two attributes, which is that they are cool and easy to use.

"From the beginning, Zuckerberg knew how to make products that were cool and easy to use. He didn’t “overbuild” Facebook, packing it so full of features that people couldn’t figure out how to use it. He made “uptime” a huge early priority, only rolling out Facebook to new schools when he was certain that the company’s servers and software could handle the traffic load.

"These steps sound like no-brainers, but they trip up a lot of technology start-ups. Stanford’s predecessor to Facebook, for example, was so complicated that it never really caught on. Friendster grew so fast that its infrastructure got swamped: People wanted to log on, but they couldn’t. A year later, when Friendster finally fixed the problem, its U.S. users were gone."

I also like this part:

"In a market where ­speed is critical, venture-capital funding allows young companies to move faster than they could if they had to rely only on revenues to fund product development. Entrepreneurs who understand that tend to stick around to make plenty of money later."

Sounds so easy but it's actually quite difficult!

Ironic because it also intensifies the pressure to cash in early/accept a buyout which Blodget rightly compliments Zuckerberg for adamantly resisting.

He had the right combination of timing, luck, and not getting in his own way.

That last part is also surprisingly difficult.

"Focus became so central to Facebook’s ethos that in the company’s old office, the word was stenciled over a urinal in the bathroom."

Facebook's culture of "fail fast" is one of its greatest assets:

“Move fast and break things” has continued to drive the company’s evolution. Instead of extensively focus-grouping new features, Facebook just rolls them out. Then it listens to users’ screams and makes modifications as appropriate. This technique has produced a lot of duds. It has led, on many occasions, to Zuckerberg having to apologize to his users. It has also produced some of the features that, in the minds of users, today are Facebook—such as News Feed. What the critics miss when they blast Facebook for “mistakes” is that the process is deliberate. And it works.

Focus, but no focus groups.

Two main things a leader does: COMMUNICATE and SAY NO.

The first thing a leader needs to learn to do is communicate—tell his team where they’re going and why. This is especially true when dozens of employees are being hired monthly, each with his own ideas about how to do things and what’s best for the company. After Zuckerberg stopped coding at Facebook, though, he didn’t communicate—he disappeared. He did so because he hadn’t yet learned another critical leadership skill: the art of saying “no.”

Zuck has step by step built one of the strongest management teams in the world.

“I’ve always focused on a couple of things,” Zuckerberg said. “One is having a clear direction for the company and what we build. And the other is just trying to build the best team possible toward that … I think as a company, if you can get those two things right—having a clear direction on what you are trying to do and bringing in great people who can execute on the stuff—then you can do pretty well.” For Facebook, that last part has proven an understatement.

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