Choice quotes from Startup School

Allen and I headed down to Startup School on Saturday, to see a few startup lumiaries with 1600 of our closest friends. The speakers were incredible, and I wanted to share some of the more memorable quotes I took down.


Mark Zuckerberg – founder of Facebook

You can’t 80-20 everything.

You have to go further in some things than anybody else.

Myspace tried to copy – you’re never going to win that way.

Wow, this is where all the tech companies are […] it’ll be neat to be around these other companies. – driving down the 101 in the early days.


Travis Kalanick – founder of Uber

We know what we’re doingregarding criticism of Uber Taxi.

Prices are probably a bit high – regarding average customer per customer ($105/month).

[We just wanted] S-Classes for us and 100 friends.

We’re a logistics company.

When I’m having a bad day, I go to our overall revenue graph.

1000 people with credit cards on file, without a car on the ground – regarding NYC pre-launch.

[In SF] more cars dedicated to Uber than were towncars when we started. [This is] not slowing down.

[[I don’t have the quote, but this is amazing: In SF, a Giants win leads to a lot more demand, starting 3 hours before the game!]]


Jessica Livingston – partner at YC

Even our own lawyers tried to talk us out of it – regarding starting YC.

Investors tend to have a herd mentality.

It’s not a deal until the money is in the bank.

Write code, talk to users, exercise.

The way to win is to execute well.

No extreme ever lasts […] things are never as bad or good as it seems.


Patrick Collison – founder of Stripe

It can be helpful to be underestimated.

[I said there should be a universal payment system, John said] ‘it probably won’t be all that hard’.

‘Right so, payments – how do they work’ – quoting himself in early meetings with financial people.

‘Start out by making 100 people really happy’ – quoting Paul Bucheit.

Startups are hard.

Launching is not a panacea.

Both of them are really addictive – that’s why we keep doing thisstarting and growing a company.


Ben Silbermann – founder of Pinterest

Making things can take a long time.

Committing matters.

[My wife said] ‘either do it or stop talking about it’.

People are going to give you all kinds of advice.

If they knew, they would be doneVCs.

Be great at 1 thing.

The best things in the world are made by groups of people.

Don’t let someone talk you out of your dream.

There’s a tendency to think ‘I just need to work harder’. That’s a really dangerous thing.


Ben Horowitz – partner at Andreeson Horowitz

No matter how hard it looks, it’s harder than it looks.

There’s no crying in baseball, and there’s no profit for number 2 in technology markets.

All of our customers started going out of business – LoudCloud after the DotCom crash.

We only had 4 weeks of cash left. We couldn’t raise any on private markets – why they IPOd.

Company was 18 months old […] I had no idea what we were doing […] We were burning $25m a quarter. […] I would sit up late at night sweating.

You only ever experience 2 emotions, euphoria and terror.

There is no distinction between wants and needs.

If you create something people want, eventually they’re going to need it.

A breakthrough idea seems like a stupid idea.


Tom Preston-Warner – founder of GitHub

At the end of the day, money doesn’t matter.

A company is just decisions, decisions are made by people, people are the only thing that matters, so you’d better hire the right people.

I’d been doing Rails and I didn’t like it.

If you have people asking to pay for your product before you could sell it, that’s a good thing.

You’ll notice that none of the 4 of us were business guys. None of us were executives.

[You think] ‘let’s hire an executive because they know what they’re doing.’ Now you have two problems.

Examples of how not to do something are just as valuable as examples of how to do them.

Having the same idea for product direction is important.

Companies don’t do things, people do things.

If you screw up your design, you’ve screwed up your product.

You need a designer as a cofounder.

We started with the idea of putting code from your computer on the internet. […] Start with something you can build.

I think the saddest thing in the world is a squandered opportunity.

That’s why we raised $100m – GitHub is an opportunity, we didn’t want to squander it.

If you optimize for happiness, profits naturally follow.

You can’t just take the ideas that apply to other companies and apply them to you.

Create superfans.


Ron Conway – SV Angel

Startups today know how to segment [their lives] better.

In my day, in hardware, you didn’t need to focus on product or consumer satisfaction.

Best decision I ever made, in 1994, was only to invest in internet software.

People were saying ‘TCP/IP’ as often as ‘internet’. They had to explain email as something that ran on TCP/IP (PG responded “you didn’t just get in at the ground floor – you got in at the basement”).

She always thought I was crazy – his wife.

Investors look for pattern recognition, which is a bad idea.

When I invest in an entrepreneur, I invest for life.

I invested $75k in Twitter, sight unseen, no due dilligence.

If you look at Google, Twitter and Facebook, none of them had any idea what the monetization was going to be.

Google took the biggest risk; Ben [from Pinterest] had Google, Twitter and Facebook to look back on” – monetization.

‘The funding of the biggest company ever is happening’ – when Google was raising.

I did not get Facebook, but I got growth.

The all time high for Google is definitely in the future.

‘You’re going to make money while that poor guy fights the record labels’to Larry and Sergey about Sean Parker.

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