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Zuckerberg: If I started Facebook today, I would stay in Boston

October 31, 2011 | 12:06 pm

Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg once said he could not have built Facebook if he had not ventured to Silicon Valley.

Now he's saying that you don't have to be in Silicon Valley to succeed. In fact, if he started Facebook today, he says, he would stay in Boston. (He was a Harvard undergrad when he started working on it.)

His gripe about Silicon Valley: It has a short-term mentality. And Zuckerberg, who knows he will never have another idea this good again, is in Facebook for the very long term (thanks to Sean Parker).

But Zuckerberg acknowledges that Facebook may never have turned out to be Facebook if he hadn't moved to Palo Alto. (According to Kara Swisher, Facebook, the world's most popular social network, is closing in on 1 billion users).

"I knew nothing, so I had to be out here. Facebook would not have worked had I stayed in Boston," Zuckerberg said Saturday during an onstage conversation at Stanford University with Y Combinator's Jessica Livingston at an event called Startup School. "But I think that now, knowing more of what I know, I think I might have been able to pull it off."

He added: "You don't have to move out here to do this."

It's a nice theory, but just ask every place on the planet that is trying to replicate Silicon Valley -– the money,  connections, advice, power, risk-taking –- and you'll hear the same thing: The only place not trying to be Silicon Valley is, well, Silicon Valley. And Silicon Valley is home to many companies -- Apple, Google, Oracle and on and on -- laser-focused on the long term.

Speaking of Google, Zuckerberg said he was terrified "Google was about to build our product."

"And look how long it took for them to build our product," he said with a laugh, referring to Google+.

For that, apparently he has Eric Schmidt to thank. (Also, remember when Sergey Brin said this? "We don't feel at a higher level that we need to own everything successful on the Internet.")

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Google's Eric Schmidt says he didn't push hard enough for deal with Facebook

-- Jessica Guynn

Photo: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaking at Startup School on Saturday at Stanford University. Credit: Robert Scoble

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