Mark Zuckerberg’s Advice to Start-ups

In a rare interview, the Facebook founder advises that a move to Silicon Valley is not necessary.

“If I were starting now, I’d do it very differently—but I knew nothing back then,” he said in an interview at Y Combinator’s Startup School. “You get this feeling when you’re out here that you kind of have to be in Silicon Valley. There’s all these great engineers out here, there’s great universities, there’s a lot of great VCs, you can get people to help you set up a company well… you can rent data center space—all this stuff.”

He added: “It’s not the only place to be, I think…Honestly, if I were starting now, I just would have stayed in Boston.”

“I knew nothing, so I had to be out here. Facebook would not have worked had I stayed in Boston,” he said. “If you’re a beginner and you don’t know anything about this stuff, it’s actually an excellent place to be because a lot of the stuff that you wouldn’t understand how to do on your own, like I didn’t, I could just get help from a lot of other people.”

What doesn’t Zuckerberg like about Silicon Valley? He referred to a conversation he had with CEO Jeff Bezos, about how workers in Seattle stay with an employer about twice as long as they do in Silicon Valley.”There’s a culture out here where people don’t commit to doing things,” he said.

On selling a company: “If you go through some big corporate change, it’s just not going to be the same,” he said, referring to the rejected Yahoo bid in 2006. “If we sold to Yahoo, they would have done something different, if you want to continue your vision of the company, then don’t sell because there’s inevitably going to be some change.”