Monthly Archives: March 2007

Mitch Kapor vs. Mark Zuckerberg

I’m here at Startup School and there is a really interesting contrast between the presentations of Mitch Kapor and Mark Zuckerberg. Lotus was one of the fastest growing companies of all time, and was widely heralded as one of the best working environments, and Mitch has been involved with some really interesting tech revolutions over the years. Mark Zuckerberg is of course the founder of Facebook.

Mitch’s presentation was one of my favorite of the day, and one of the thing he emphasized was that you should hire for diversity because diverse groups of people innovate more. Diversity here is defined as a function of experience, background, family status, as well as the traditional definitions like gender, et al. He says that one of the most common mistakes entrepreneurship makes is building “mirrortocracies” instead of meritocracies, meaning they tend to hire people like themselves rather than hiring the best people regardless of backgrounds, and the company suffers as a result.

Almost on cue, Mark started out by saying that the two most important things for a company is to have people who are “young and technical,” and his explanation of such was actually the entirety of his prepared remarks. (He arrived shortly before his presentation, so AFAIK hadn’t heard any of Mitch’s.) He made some fair arguments for biasing toward a technically inclined workforce, even in roles like marketing and support, however he didn’t really say anything compelling in support of youth, besides some vague references to many great creators and chessmasters being between 20 and 35 years old. But in no uncertain terms, he said they have a bias toward hiring young people at Facebook.

I’m inclined to agree more with Mitch. Biasing your decisions based on something completely out of someone’s control, specifically the year they were born, seems as likely to have correlation to talent and success in a company as gender, race, or anything else that everyone knows doesn’t matter. It’s not what you’re born with, it’s what you make of it. However in defense of Mark, you can think of Frank Sinatra’s Young at Heart. There’s youth, and there’s youthfulness. The latter could be described as a set of qualities, and could definitely something you look for when hiring, but make sure you’re targeting the right things.

What do you think: Is there something inherent in age that’s valuable? What’s the most important thing you look for when hiring?

Alexa Blocks Statsaholic

Alexa appears to be blocking any image loads from the Statsaholic domain, which was recently renamed from Alexaholic. If you change or block your referrers, the images load just fine. Bad form on Alexa’s part, especially since Alexaholic put an infinitely more usable UI on Alexa’s data, which Alexa later updated their own chart widgets to copy.

Selling Links

“Let’s face it, we’re selling links here. Call it ‘buzz’ all you want, but it boils down to selling links. That skews Google’s index and they’ve come out against that quite publicly. If we’re all given the freedom to disclose in our own manner, we’re a moving target. If we’ve all got disclosure badges everywhere, it’s easy for them to penalize/ban us all.”

The comments on this PayPerPost blog encouraging disclosure are interesting, it seems even their own users recognize that they’re doing something Google should/will penalize.

Perhaps rather than trying to find better ways to hide from Google, they should just stop the questionable behaviour in the first place. This is one of the reasons we took an early stance by banning PPP on WordPress.com, and other blog hosts should do the same.

Blank Slate

Daring Fireball: Blank Slate talks about basing your work off a template vs. starting from scratch. I think both can be valid, there are enough (over 1000) WP templates out there that finding one that’s close enough to what you want and customizing from there can be a great way to bootstrap and get started quickly. But longer term, invest in design. (This reminded me I have a long todo list for this site to catch up with.)

71Miles on WP Framework

71Miles is a cool new travel site with a twist PM readers will find interesting — it’s built with WordPress. How? Adam Rugel writes “The nuts and bolts of our site is WordPress, it’s our foundation and content management system. We extended it to manage our content feeds: Google Calendar XML for the events calendar, map, and mobile product and Kayak’s brand new hotel API for the hotel deals. We tricked out the custom fields in WP to do a lot the work for us, and we’ve got the categories set up so that we can scale to roll out dozens of editions (NYC, LA, Chicago…). At any rate we’re loving the platform…” Definitely one of the coolest uses of the WordPress framework I’ve seen in a while.