What Mark Zuckerberg said that bugged Mitch Kapor


Yesterday at the Startup School (a freaking awesome event for entrepreneurs, by the way) I was sitting next to Mitch Kapor while Facebook founder/CEO Mark Zuckerberg was on stage. The picture above is of Startup School hearing from Zynga CEO Mark Pincus, who gave a great talk. More on that in a second.

At one point Mark said something that made Mitch flinch.

What was it?

Mark said that one of the best decisions he made was to move Facebook out of Boston and into Silicon Valley. Then he said that the business infrastructure here was key and that he couldn’t have gotten that infrastructure anywhere else.

Why did that make Mitch flinch? Well, Mitch started Lotus in Boston, which was a highly successful company (Mitch, in his own speech, told about his experiences starting Lotus). But since then has Boston been able to keep a great tech startup and help it get to the big time?

No. That’s why only I saw Mitch’s reaction and why Mitch didn’t call Mark on it.

As to Mark Pincus’ talk, the recording is on Justin.tv and he explained how he wanted to build an “Internet Treasure.” He already has, his company has built Farmville which is a VERY popular game on Facebook.

Other talks worth watching from Startup School? Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos talking about how he delivers happiness.

Evan Williams and Biz Stone telling stories about starting Twitter.

Thanks to YCombinator for inviting me to Startup School. I learned a lot and the networking was over the top.

Published by

Robert Scoble

As Startup Liaison for Rackspace, the Open Cloud Computing Company, Scoble travels the world looking for what's happening on the bleeding edge of technology for Rackspace's startup program. He's interviewed thousands of executives and technology innovators and reports what he learns in books ("The Age of Context," a book coauthored with Forbes author Shel Israel, has been released at http://amzn.to/AgeOfContext ), YouTube, and many social media sites where he's followed by millions of people. Best place to watch me is on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/RobertScoble


  1. “But since then has Boston been able to keep a great tech startup and help it get to the big time?” Well, in the Boston area we've got a company called Monster.com that's done pretty well in its niche. HubSpot is here too.

    But what knocks me out about this area is the sheer amount of social media thought leaders we have in/around Boston. Think Chris Brogan, Chris Penn, Laura Fitton, Steve Garfield, CC Chapman, and more!

  2. Yup, not saying Boston doesn't have interesting companies or interesting people. But, seriously, HubSpot and Monster have not made the impact that Google or Facebook have (or even Twitter has).

    1. Hi All.

      We started HubSpot here in Cambridge primarily because of Dharmesh and my Boston/MIT roots. We felt the benefit of our network out-weighed the relatively obvious benefits of starting on the left coast.

      We are no Google/Facebook for sure, but that’s what we are up to. We are funding the company, hiring, and planning to build a west coast style internet company back here on the right coast. We have a TON of work to do, but that’s our vision.

      Frankly, Boston has missed a couple of big waves of the internet completely. There is a lot of discussion back here about what its going to take to put it on par with the left coast in terms of a being a great place to start a company. I think the single best thing is if we can build a couple of great companies back here on the Google/Facebook/Salesforce level. Great companies like those create great learnings, create great entrepreneurs, etc.

      We HAVE noticed one big benefit to being in Boston. Like silicon valley, there are great minds around here. Unlike silicon valley, there is not as much competition for those great minds. In addition, for some reason, it seems like once you land those great minds, they are more loyal back east than out west. I have no empirical proof that second point, but it just feels like there is a lot more movement between firms on the west coast than on the east coast. Ironically, I think this is one of the reasons the west coast has been so much more successful than the east coast in terms of internet businesses, but it helps you when you are a company like HubSpot that is off to the races.


  3. I still fail to see where's the school on “Startup School”… it seems it's a bunch of “you can do it” superficial motivational talks mostly for 2x year old kids. A talk like the one Mint.com founder gave recently would be right on. There should have been a panel in “how to pitch investors”, there should have been a panel on “how to hire”, there should have been a panel in “how to bootstrap”. Instead, and unfortunately, it seemed a series of keynote speeches with no logical thread at all.

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  6. Indeed, we have not had anywhere near the impact that a Google, Facebook or Twitter has. They are all spectacularly impactful companies (and there are many more out there).

    But, there are interesting things going on out here in Boston in the marketing arena. Several interesting companies, thought leaders and book authors. It's less about contrasting Boston to the valley (in terms of tech), and more about contrasting Boston to Madison Avenue (when it comes to next-generation marketing).

  7. If it's a necessity to find people who have to have certain really niche skills, I can see the Silicon Valley argument. But as someone working at a start-up in Boston, I don't think you can beat it. We have a bunch of wicked smaht MIT/Harvard people who look at problems in whole new ways.

  8. I wish I was there to see that. There are a lot of great urban areas that can support certain types of biz infrastructures, but hey, silicon valley is silicon valley.

  9. well…

    I don’t understand the infrastructure point…but then again I’m not Mark Z and if I were I wouldn’t be here reading about all of his actions…seems to me that he’s been making a lot of good decisions for Facebook lately….my wife is hooked on many game apps on his site….farmville I think its called for one.

  10. there is a lot of well thought out points of view one why boston never succeeded through the 80's like silicon valley did, and the root cause of the issues seems to come down to non-compete agreements not infrastructure. Even though they started the race at the same time with the same resources. Arguably the colleges on east coast gave Boston a running start including some powerhouses like DEC.

    This article along with many others decsribe why Boston's innovation is stifled because good talent is forced to leave the area once they move on from a company. California on the other hand will generally throw a non-compete agreement out of the court room.


    So sure the infrastructure is better here in the Valley now, but it is the lack of non-compete agreements in California that saw the area thrive. It's not really about the individual companies or talent, it is the strength and resilience of the overall ecosystem not being hampered by non-competes thus attracting and retaining the talent in the area.


  11. I agree, Boston is not great for tech startups. Taxes are high, per employee cost is high, health insurance is a killer, office space cost is murder, and there is no state level infrastructure to support and sustain the business. However, if you are working with federal customers you may want to stick with the east coast and Boston is probably the most logical place for development (DC for biz office).