Why Did Facebook Succeed? An Early Hire Speaks. – The Karel Baloun Interview

The full program

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A few lessons from this program

Have you ever asked yourself this question: In a world dominated by MySpace and full of other social networks, how did Facebook become a multi-billion dollar business when others failed?

To answer that question, I called up Karel Baloun, one of Facebook’s early recruits who was hired by founder Mark Zuckerberg as Senior Engineer. Karel wrote a book called Inside Facebook about  his experience at Facebook. Now he’s running a company called i2we.com that builds applications on top of Facebook.

Here are some of what made Facebook succeed. (Listen to the full interview for more.)

That “vision” thing – I asked Karel if Facebook ever thought about competing with MySpace by giving users autonomy over the look of their profiles. He said it was never even a question. Mark had a clear vision for the company. The vision was to be a communication platform, not an art project.

(By the way, when I interviewed venture capitalist William Quigley, he talked about the importance of vision, but he was almost reluctant to use the word “vision” because it’s been so abused.)

Think you can do it? – Ge this. Working with Karel at Facebook was future YouTube founder, Steve Chen. When Steve left Facebook to be an entrepreneur, Karel asked him if he was worried that he couldn’t pay the mortgage on his new home. Steve’s response was “I’m not going to fail.” Karel says Facebook’s founder had the same self-confidence.

Contagious passion – Karel says when Mark hired him, he knew his life changed. He says Mark was good at getting people excited. It’s an important ingredient of success.

Why do you think Facebook succeeded?

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  • http://www.intermz.com Ted Pin

    Nice short post. I’ve found passion can be nearly as persuasive and contagious as the idea you’re pitching.

  • http://blog.perfectspace.com nate

    I’m not sure spamming the entire campus a few times counts as “vision” or “passion”. It’s certainly a “marketing technique” though. :)

  • Andrew Warner

    Nate: In our conversation, I asked Karel about spam specifically. He says Harvard *might* have allowed Facebook to email the whole school, but beyond that, they grew by just being a good site.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve heard conservative Karls Mortgage Calculator pundits and the rank-and-file talk about getting rid of the deduction, but I have never heard any sort of liberal say that. I’m sure one or two are out there, but they are a very, very small number.

  • wilfred71drapeau

    I've heard conservative Karls Mortgage Calculator pundits and the rank-and-file talk about getting rid of the deduction, but I have never heard any sort of liberal say that. I'm sure one or two are out there, but they are a very, very small number.

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