How long is Max Levchin going to milk the Paypal story. For crying out loud, it was 12 years ago - an eternity in the industry. How come all these great ideas didn't work for the next 12 years he has been trying to build other companies.
Universities aren't as meritocratic as you might think. I really liked this book, http://www.amazon.com/Price-Admission-Americas-Colleges-Outs... I don't know if I agree with everything, but the realization that the majority of admissions at elite schools are to people who are in some way "hooked" is pretty shocking.
What a fascinating idea. I suppose if you don't know whether you're going the right direction you might as well try to get there as fast a possible.
I worked for a while with a bunch of former video game developers at a non-game company. They got an amazing amount of work done, but they also just did what they wanted without discussing it. They just assumed that everybody would naturally agree with them so they didn't see any problem with sending a note to the rest of the team that said, "We've changed the signature of most of the UI method calls. The build now has 5,000 errors. Please make changes to your code."
Given the PayPal story, which started with the company being encryption software to beam money between Palm Pilots, that couldn't possibly be what Max meant. They definitely didn't "know whether [they were] going in the right direction."
What he means, I think, is that at an early stage startup the cost of coordination is very high. When you have 5 people working together you almost want a hive mind. If part of everyone's mutual understanding includes how, when, and why to change course then the cost of potentially sticking with the wrong thing for too long is far outweighed by the cost of coordination.
Your example is the opposite of what I take him to mean, viz., in a small team where everyone understands how to operate independently and has a deep, mutual understanding then nobody's going to introduce a breaking change that leaves the other 4 people flat footed at a critical time.
He's putting his own cognitive narrative on a singular event. A few things change (they dont connect with elon, they dont give up on the palm pilot as a focus, etc) and the story ends radically different, to negative effect. Truth is, sometimes, if you bust your ass in the right place at the right time, shit goes marvelously to your favor. Or not. Either way.
There is. But racial diversity has nothing to do with it.
The more diverse the backgrounds and thought patterns are of people on a team, the more likely they'll think of and consider solutions and paths that might not have been considered otherwise -- or see pitfalls in them.
If you're building a rocket to go to Mars, you absolutely want as much diversity in your engineering backgrounds as possible (assuming everyone already meets the engineering requirements in the first place).
> Is there any value in diversity for its own sake?
I don't know. How would you test that hypothesis?
My unfounded speculation is that, like genetic diversity helps produce a healthy and robust organism, so does diversity of perspective make an organization more fit to respond to a variety of conditions.
That may or may not be of value, depending on the goals of the organization.
Diversity value is inversely proportional to how well you understand the problem at hand. If you're building a rocket to mars, you probably need fewer psychologists than mechanical engineers. If you're an advertising agency, the situation is likely reversed.
If you're building a rocket to Mars, you'd better have at least a few psychology types to anticipate (and prevent) miscommunications that result in a units-conversion error that blows up the shiny engineering thingie.
Diversity in this context seems to be programming language specialty which is completely reasonable when getting something off the ground. The whole school thing strikes me as weird though. Maybe if you're dealing with really green engineers stuff like that matters.
That's funny since I have a league 'hoops' game tonight. Exercise and other focus helps amazingly with my work. Weight lifting is another place where I come up with all sorts of solutions to work problems.
The whole paragraph from the lecture just struck me as a nerds revenge/jealously since here was a guy who was as smart as them and a jock. What could they possible lean on then to think themselves superior!?
this thing worked once for him. that's not a valid sample. all these great stories out of startups that were plain lucky to be in the right place in the right time. it wasn't technology that made paypal big - who gives a shit how they hired coders?
All of which is summed up by the comments about people from one particular university.
Point by point:
Easy to leverage people you went to uni with
Easy to attract top talent, if you went to uni with it
Ruthless? If you mean selecting from a single know talent pool, sure.
You'll probably scare away 2nd tier talent, if you a already populated with your mates from a top uni.
OK, those are bitter and twisted replies, but being British, I know all about closed shop universities and mates giving mates jobs. Old School Tie we call it. Have a look at our government....