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Hangin' with the startup crowd - Arvind Narayanan's journal [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

Hangin' with the startup crowd [Mar. 11th, 2008|06:40 pm]
Arvind Narayanan
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I was at an event for Facebook developers at SXSW yesterday. A lot of the big names in Silicon Valley were there - Zuckerberg, Blake Ross, Scoble.. overall, easily over a hundred people. It was interesting to study the crowd. It's mostly guys, as you'd expect. Other than that, it's very different from the profie of the average programmer.
  • The chubby and scrawny stereotypes are both almost completely absent. Decent fashion sense. Except for the gender bias they don't really stand out as nerds.
  • Predominantly white; Indians and Asians are underrepresented compared to the tech industry as a whole.
  • You need to be aggressive in this business, but a few people overdo it and are in danger of coming across as assholes.
  • The talks are much less boring than in academia (duh). Good speaking skills, overall.
I had a chance to talk to Zuckerberg. While the media hounds him, the rest of the community pretty much treats him as a regular guy (which he is), so he was just hanging around talking to whoever. Apparently he kinda got heckled the day before.

I asked Zuck if Facebook was making any effort to reach out to the large demographic of people who are cynical or otherwise apathetic to Facebook (and social networking in general). His answer was essentially No; they're just going to make the site better and let the mindshare take care of itself.

Other than the people and networking, the take home message seemed to be that in a few months, we're probably going to see a second wave of better, less annoying, more useful facebook applications. Right now, we're pretty clearly seeing saturation; but a number of efforts are underway to re-engineer the mess: better control of invites and notifications from applications; the fbFund, and new ways to monetize your applications.
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