Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg just told a group of aspiring entrepreneurs at Y Combinator’s Startup School that he expects to invest most of the money Facebook is currently making back into the business. According to him, it currently “doesn’t make sense to make a massive profit,” as Facebook is already able to provide the necessary incentives to keep and motivate its employees.
Asked about Facebook’s recent acquisitions, Zuckerberg noted that Facebook never acquired a company just for the product but for the people. He wants Facebook to have a very entrepreneurial culture and one of the ways for the company to do this is to acquire companies with great founders. These new employees, including FriendFeed‘s Bret Taylor, according to Zuckerberg, often end up working on products that are extensions of their startups.
Facebook’s Early Days
Talking about the mistakes he made, Zuckerberg noted that the mistakes the made while architecting the earliest versions of Facebook, including FMBL, are still bugging the company down sometimes. He also noted, however, that starting a web service in the early days was a lot easier than today. Now, with multiple mobile platforms competing for users attention, it has gotten more important for developers to create services that can be easily replicated on numerous platforms.
Asked about the early days of Facebook Zuckerberg also talked about his early experiences in Silicon Valley. According to him, his thought at the time was to see what it would feel like to be there, especially if he ever wanted to actually build a startup. As Facebook was already growing rapidly at the time, he – and some of his co-founders – decided to take the next semester off as Facebook was already using a data center in California.
Asked if he would move his company to the Silicon Valley again, Zuckerberg noted how the Valley offers new companies all the necessary services. He also pointed out that the Valley is very “short-term focused” and insular, but the fact that the infrastructure allows startups to quickly get of the ground makes it the ideal place to start a new business according to him.
During the interview, Zuckerberg also talked about his parents reaction to his decision to drop out. His mother, apparently, told him that she always expected him to drop out and his sister had a bet with him that she would finish college before he did.
The Social Network
In addition, he also took a few jabs at the “Social Network,” the fictionalized account of the early days of Facebook. While he noted that the movie got all of his shirts right, he noted that the general theme of the movie was simply wrong. He did not, for example, get the motivation to build Facebook from a breakup, but because he simply enjoyed building things. Taking a jab at the film industry, he noted that it is apparently hard for Hollywood to understand that sometimes “people just build things because they like to build stuff.” Clearly, Zuckerberg has decided to embrace the fact that the movie has pushed his celebrity status to a new level and throughout the interview, he seemed surprisingly comfortable talking about it.
What About China?
Currently, Facebook is planning to expand in Japan, South Korea and Russia, but China is clearly still a major issue for Facebook. Zuckerberg noted that he doesn’t want “Facebook to be an American company” and that the company has to follow the laws of all the company it is entering and be “culturally sensitive”. He noted that while the U.S. (and Facebook) has a certain standard for free speech, Facebook users can’t post Nazi content on Facebook in Germany. Zuckerberg himself is currently learning Chinese to understand the language and culture. How, he asked, can you want to connect the whole world if you leave out China?