The Hacker Way

Facebook S-1 Filing

Facebook S-1 Filing

Although Facebook is my mortal enemy it doesn’t mean that there is some brilliance that escapes their mercenary approach to their users. When Facebook went public Zuckerberg shared via the S-1 Filing a great description of The Hacker Way – it’s probably the best thing he’s written and I agree with it wholeheartedly.

Here is an excerpt:

The Hacker Way

As part of building a strong company, we work hard at making Facebook the best place for great people to have a big impact on the world and learn from other great people. We have cultivated a unique culture and management approach that we call the Hacker Way.

The word “hacker” has an unfairly negative connotation from being portrayed in the media as people who break into computers. In reality, hacking just means building something quickly or testing the boundaries of what can be done. Like most things, it can be used for good or bad, but the vast majority of hackers I’ve met tend to be idealistic people who want to have a positive impact on the world.

The Hacker Way is an approach to building that involves continuous improvement and iteration. Hackers believe that something can always be better, and that nothing is ever complete. They just have to go fix it — often in the face of people who say it’s impossible or are content with the status quo.

Hackers try to build the best services over the long term by quickly releasing and learning from smaller iterations rather than trying to get everything right all at once. To support this, we have built a testing framework that at any given time can try out thousands of versions of Facebook. We have the words “Done is better than perfect” painted on our walls to remind ourselves to always keep shipping.

Hacking is also an inherently hands-on and active discipline. Instead of debating for days whether a new idea is possible or what the best way to build something is, hackers would rather just prototype something and see what works. There’s a hacker mantra that you’ll hear a lot around Facebook offices: “Code wins arguments.”

Hacker culture is also extremely open and meritocratic. Hackers believe that the best idea and implementation should always win — not the person who is best at lobbying for an idea or the person who manages the most people.

The real test is whether or not Zuck and his team have exemplified this through action, not just thought. Any cursory review of the beginning of Facebook shows this to be true. Iterative development, fast, cheap, prove the concept, ship the damn thing.

Facebook was built in a week and with the first day or so had nearly 1,000 users on board. Although Pressgram is not being built in a week (unfortunately) I bet we can get 1,000 users in the first 24 hours, right? Why not 10,000…

I am a hacker first when it comes to Pressgram. There is no time for debate or democratic counsel. Great consumer-web companies get their product into the hands of their customers with little delay and with great risk at times.

Fortune favors the brave.