Y Combinator is helping entrepreneurs build more successful businesses with the launch of a video series entitled “How to Build the Future.” Available every two weeks for the next couple of months, the startup program will publish interviews with founders that have built great companies, and it’s starting today with Facebook chief executive and cofounder Mark Zuckerberg.
“Technology companies have become a powerful way to build the future,” Y Combinator president Sam Altman wrote in a blog post. “Our goal with this series is to share advice about how you can do it, too.” The firm has already lined up several notable individuals over the next few weeks, including Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates, Y Combinator’s own cofounder Jessica Livingston, Elon Musk, and Peter Thiel.
While the series is video-based, the audio files will be posted to SoundCloud.
Starting this new program adheres to Y Combinator’s mission to “help startups at whatever stage they’re in become a billion-dollar company.” It builds upon its decade-long effort to accelerate startups through its program, providing resources through the very early-stage YC Fellowship, as well as numerous other initiatives outside its core offering. This includes educational courses that Altman himself has taught at Stanford University, the expansion of Y Combinator’s Startup School to Europe, and the continuation of the Female Founders conference. All of these efforts are geared towards giving what hopefully is valuable knowledge to help a company become the next Dropbox, Airbnb, or even Facebook.
In the first episode, Altman chats with Zuckerberg about how Facebook was started. Zuckerberg remarked that there were no initial plans to form a company. He thinks that entrepreneurs should start with problems that they want to solve in the world rather than wanting to form a company.
“The best companies that get built are things that are trying to drive social change, even though it’s local in one place, more than starting out because you want to make a lot of money or have a lot of people working for you or build some company in some way,” Zuckerberg opined. “I always think that this is kind of some perverse thing about Silicon Valley in a way, which is that people decide often that they want to start a company before they even decide what they want to do. That feels like really backwards to me. For anyone that has experience building a company, you know that you go through some really hard things along the way. I think part of what gets you through that is believing in what you’re doing and knowing that what you’re doing is really delivering a lot of value for people. That’s how the best companies are getting made.”
When asked about the hardest parts of Facebook, he shared his experience when Yahoo offered “a lot of money” for the company a couple of years in, when there were 10 million users. Zuckerberg described this point in time when interesting conversations took place in the company and established Facebook’s future, even amid debate by some investors to sell to Yahoo. Much of the tension was caused by a lack of communication of Facebook’s mission to the team, which eventually resulted in Zuckerberg’s management team departing.
This isn’t the first time that Zuckerberg has regaled the Y Combinator audience about the origins of the popular social network. He’s shared his experience at multiple instances of the program’s Startup School events in 2012 and 2013. Other talking points he brought up include the move to artificial intelligence and virtual reality.
In the end, Facebook’s CEO offered up this advice: “Over time, the biggest risk you can take is not to take any risks.”
More founders and startup influencers will continue to be added to the video series lineup, but right now Y Combinator is starting off with some major hitters. This series is another effort to show founders that it can be the best resource around when launching a company. While Zuckerberg’s interview shined a light on solving a problem before working on a startup, it’s likely other interviews will highlight other areas about running a business, including diversity, moonshots, philanthropy, dealing with venture capital, and more.