Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has downplayed Silicon Valley’s reputation as a destination for start-ups, describing the Californian region as “a little short-term focused”.
Speaking at this year’s Startup School, an event held by US incubator Y Combinator, Zuckerberg said he wouldn’t relocate to Silicon Valley if he was building Facebook now.
Facebook, which launched in Massachusetts in February 2004, moved its base of operations to Palo Alto in California – which serves as an economic focal point of Silicon Valley – in July.
It received its first investment later that month from PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel. But according to Zuckerberg, Silicon Valley’s start-up culture leaves a lot to be desired.
“In Silicon Valley, you get this feeling that you have to be out here. But it’s not the only place to be,” Zuckerberg said at the event.
“If I were starting now, I would have stayed in Boston. [Silicon Valley] is a little short-term focused… A lot of companies built outside of Silicon Valley seem to be focused on a longer-term.”
“There’s this culture in the Valley of starting a company before they know what they want to do. You decided you want to start a company, but you don’t know what you are passionate about yet.”
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Mick Liubinskas, of Australian tech seed fund Pollenizer, says with regard to local start-ups, many are choosing to venture to the United States much later or not at all.
“The old model was to test your idea in Australia and then get it to the US as soon as possible… But a lot of Australian start-ups are now avoiding the US because it is so competitive,” he says.
“It can be more difficult to do a light launch in the US market – you have to hit it pretty hard.”
Meanwhile, Zuckerberg also shed light on his vision for Facebook, namely the growth of Facebook add-ons, highlighting opportunities for start-ups to develop complementary offerings.
“I think the story that we look back [on] will be the apps and things that are built on top of Facebook,” Zuckerberg said.
“The past five years have been about being connecting people and the next five to ten years are about: what are all the things that can be built now that these connections are in place?”
“The biggest risk is not taking any risk… In a world that [is] changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.”