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Max Levchin - Technology Review

Stashed in: Founders, Silicon Valley!, Google Acquisitions, Culture, MIT TR

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TR: What concerns you the most about the startup culture today?

Levchin: I feel like we should be aiming higher. The founders of a number of startups I encounter have no real intent of getting anywhere huge. They just want to build a company that is likely to get acquired for a meaningful, but not necessarily enormous, amount of money. The acquisition price doesn't really matter, but it serves relatively well to measure the consequence of the startup and therefore indirectly measures the ambition of the founders at the outset.

What's wrong with building a company in hopes it will be acquired?

I think it is less likely to result in truly revolutionary or groundbreaking companies being created. In Silicon Valley, the number of startups that could be easily confused with a feature [of some other service] is increasing relatively rapidly.


Am I misremembering that he sold his company Slide to Google for a "meaningful, but not necessarily enormous, amount of money"?

Oh, he addresses that:

At Slide we did some great work, but the result did fall short of my ambitions. I think the lesson learned for me was that I'm not that good at changing the world through art, and should stick to what I know: science.

I'm glad to see I'm not the only person who sees this tendency towards mediocrity....

And yet, how is Max helping move the world move away from mediocrity?

Not sure, but the last name of the author of the piece rang a bell. Fascinating coincidence.

I heard max speak at startup school; at the very least he is inspiring future entrepreneurs with his transparent stories of his startup days.

What's he working on now?

Boards of Yelp, Evernote, and Quid:

I did't say he was helping move the world away from mediocrity... i simply said he sees the trend!

I guess that's the first step.

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