Jason Calacanis appears convinced that entrepreneurs are at risk of “partnering” with Facebook, claiming that Facebook will steal any startup’s technology. This follow’s Facebook’s recent announcement that the company would be offering support for any Y Combinator startup who wanted to contribute to making the web more social.
While the clip is entertaining, many of the commenters on Hacker News were skeptical about Facebook’s interest in stealing ideas (aka. “features”). As one commenter wrote, “This sounds completely bizarre. If your ideas are such that they can be stolen and executed upon by others trivially, than a job at Facebook (with a signing bonus) is pretty damn impressive exit.”
Any even more skeptical commenter, Paul Graham (who is also the founder of Y Combinator), was effective at getting Jason Calacanis to “prove” that his video was nothing more than linkbait, stating:
Respectfully, it is not linkbait.
This is my honest opinion based on Facebook’s track record. I would give the same advice to any startup: don’t trust Facebook and don’t give them any access to your startup or plans.
Period. End of story.
If an entrepreneur needs any evidence of the trustworthiness of Facebook, simply talk to folks inside of Quora, FourSquare, Twitter and Zynga (among others). I’m sure you’ve spoken to folks inside these companies, like I have, who are infuriated with Zuckerberg’s blatant stealing (without innovation).
At every chance they can get, Facebook has simply stolen. Given their scale, bringing them inside the incubators is, well, mind boggling.
If you’re a startup company you should be avoiding Facebook and their staffers.
I’m sure you have great intentions PG, and you know I respect all that you’ve accomplished, but don’t dismiss me. I really don’t need press because, to a certain extent, I am press.
Add to that the fact that I’m massively overexposed (especially here on HN), and you’re claim that I’m link-baiting feels disingenuous.
Like you, I love startups and entrepreneurship. I only want to see folks do well and not get ripped off by Facebook, which I consider the most unethical company in technology.
One only need to look at the mountain of lawsuits they’ve generated for proof of this.
Facebook’s long list of lawsuits are not from ambulance-chasing law firms mind you, they are by PARTNERS and FRIENDS of Zuckerberg’s! Oh yeah, a lot of the lawsuits and complaints are also by privacy groups and government agencies trying to protect citizens.
If Zuckerberg has no problem screwing his friends, partners and customers, what do you think he will do to a three-person startup that might innovate its way into being competition for him?
I fear you’ve made a big mistake letting the fox into the henhouse.
Startups: listen to PG on everything since he’s brilliant–but take my advice on this one.
While Jason has a legitimate argument about the company attempting to compete with other companies, none of those other companies “shared secrets” with Facebook. If the company wishes to incorporate a feature and knock out your startup, you should know that your startup wasn’t anything more than a feature to begin with.
Historically, the only legitimate claim that Calacanis can make is regarding Quora, who has had much of their product duplicated by Facebook. Foursquare, on the other hand, was never an inside company though. If you are a “startup” that’s looking to launch a feature, then yes, be concerned about Facebook. However if you are a legitimate entrepreneur, you’d be smart enough to realize that you’ll need to bring more to the table in order to have any sort of acquisition (and even more important, build revenue).
You can watch Jason’s entertaining video below.