Startups

How Fear of Embarrassment Turned into a $11 Billion Dollar Valuation

Source | LinkedIn : By Jon Lee

Ben Silbermann had wanted to make a difference. He didn’t just want to be another doctor in the family following the footsteps of his parents, or his parent’s parents. He wanted something more. To be someone.

He had been inspired by the movie “Pirates of the Silicon Valley” and had decided to move to California. He replayed in his mind, over and over again, the scene when Bill Gates had announced “there might be something going on in California”.

He really didn’t know what to expect in California but he didn’t care. Moving meant a new start and a new future but it was different and what he wanted.

“I remember I had this feeling that this was the story of my time and I was in the wrong place.”

He needed the change.

California was everything Ben had imagined it to be.

He started working at Google designing display advertisements and he loved it there — the culture, the vibe, the people, everything.

“I thought Google was the coolest place. People there were so smart and they were all doing these really interesting things. I just felt really lucky to be a a part of it even in a small way.”

But there was a problem.

He couldn’t build any products at Google. He wasn’t allowed to, because he wasn’t an engineer.

It was either continue working at Google or quit and do what he had come to California to do in the first place, to pursue his dreams.

He had to quit.

“I left, not because I didn’t love the company, but because of my particular background, it would have been really hard to built products.”

He took a few months off before starting to build iOS apps with his college friend Paul. He pushed out several, but all of them had failed. He knew nothing about the market he had been building for and it was something he wasn’t passionate about.

So he thought. He thought about what he had learned from building those apps and what he really wanted to do. What was he passionate about? What was something he really cared about?

He loved to collect things even as a kid- was that something he could do? To Ben, collecting something “tells a lot about who you are” and the place to share that side of who you were simply didn’t exist yet on the internet. He asked himself:

How do we best share things with three or 10 people or 20 people?”

This was an idea that made sense. It was something that he could be passionate about. This was what he really wanted to build.

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