Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg joined U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch and a crowd of 10,693 Friday at BYU’s Marriott Center for a special technology forum. Zuckerberg spoke about technology and education as Hatch asked a few of the roughly 450 questions previously submitted to BYU’s Facebook page.


Zuckerberg talked about founding Facebook, which now has more than 600 million users worldwide, his advice for budding entrepreneurs and his vision for the future of technology and social media. The following are highlights from his 50-minute question-and-answer session with Sen. Hatch.


“It’s an honor to be here with all of you guys today. I have to say, I am a little bit nervous. I have never had to speak to a stadium full of people before.”

On Facebook’s start

“I built it when I was a sophomore at Harvard, but I did it not because I was trying to build a company. I just built it because I wanted the product to exist at Harvard. Within a couple of weeks, about two thirds of students at Harvard were using it. We started getting requests from MIT, BU and other Boston area schools. Then it kind of got out of control from there.”

“At the end of my sophomore year, I moved out to Silicon Valley. The idea at the time was still not to start as a company but just that there were all of these companies that come from Silicon Valley. I figured I’d have something to learn. My intention was to go back to Harvard at the end of the summer. You know, Harvard has this great program where you can take as much time off as you want, so I figured at the end of the summer, things were going pretty well, I’ll take a term off. Then things kept on going well, I’ll take another term off. And then a year, and a couple of years later, I’m like, all right, I guess I’m not going back to school.”

“It was lucky for me to go to Silicon Valley because it is an epicenter for technology. And I knew nothing about getting started, I knew nothing about setting up a company, I knew nothing about hiring people, about raising money. There are just a lot of resources in Silicon Valley that help out.”

On Facebook’s success

“One thing that gets blown out of proportion in our culture is the focus on the single person or the couple of people that are running something. The success of Facebook is all about the team that we built. I think that’s true of any successful company.”

“All of these problems at the end of the day are human problems. What people are really interested in is what’s going on with the people they care about. It’s all about giving people the tools and controls that they need to be comfortable sharing the information that they want. If you do that, you create a very valuable service. It’s as much psychology and sociology as it is technology.”

Advice for budding entrepreneurs

“You have to really love and believe in what you’re doing. I think that’s the most important thing. If you start to build something … it’s hard and you encounter a lot of challenges. If you don’t completely love and believe in what you’re doing, it actually becomes the rational thing to stop doing it. Most people have something that they’re super passionate about, and I’d encourage you guys to find that thing.”

“I think it’s important if you’re going to take on any big challenge, that you just love and really have faith in what you’re doing. That I think is the most important advice I would say, more than any specific technical thing about how to build a company.”

“We look for people who are passionate about something. In a way, it almost doesn’t matter what you’re passionate about. What we really look for when we’re interviewing people is what they’ve shown an initiative to do on their own.”

On security and future innovations

“You [Sen. Hatch] were just talking about how you think a good policy of government is to get out of the way so good companies can build good things. We believe there will be much better services for all the people who use Facebook if millions of people around the world can develop those services. A good independent entrepreneur should always be able to do something better than a division of a company.”

“We think that our company understands the technology and social issues fairly well, but we want to enable entrepreneurs across the world…. There is a huge opportunity for disruption in any area that you’re passionate about. And we want to enable independent entrepreneurs to do those things. I think then we can build a much stronger ecosystem of apps.”

“One of the things that got people comfortable with having a page online is that we have extremely robust privacy controls…. We are really focused on safety, especially on children’s safety. We take a lot of extra precautions to make sure it is a safe environment for them. We really try to build a safe environment.”