What we learned from YouTube's Steve Chen

Steve Chen, Co-founder & former CTO of YouTube

Steve Chen, Co-founder & former CTO of YouTube

[中文版在下方]

Despite the impending arrival of super typhoon Nepartak, Steve Chen, Co-founder and former CTO of YouTube, braved the storm and sat down with Tim Culpan of Bloomberg Gadfly for a fireside chat along with a panel of up and coming Taiwan startups: Health2Sync, PamilyApp, SkyREC, and UXTesting.

Crowd enjoying the banter between Steve and Tim

Crowd enjoying the banter between Steve and Tim

Close to 500 more courageous souls fought the strong winds and heavy rain to join us at the top of Syntrend in downtown Taipei eager to hear the perspective of a successful entrepreneur who has been at the heart of some of Silicon Valley’s most iconic companies including PayPal, Ebay, Facebook, and YouTube.

From dropping out of college, to leaping at a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to join PayPal, to launching his most recent venture NOM, a live-streaming, interactive video platform about food, Steve shared a few thoughts on how risk-taking and failure play in the life of an entrepreneur.

Failure is par for the course

LEFT: Tim Culpan (Bloomberg Gadfly), RIGHT: Steve Chen (Co-founder & former CTO of YouTube)

LEFT: Tim Culpan (Bloomberg Gadfly), RIGHT: Steve Chen (Co-founder & former CTO of YouTube)

While there has been much recent discussion in Taiwan of how Fear of Failure (FOFA) has been a strong cultural force preventing more Taiwanese from taking the startup plunge, Steve underscored how critical the role of failure plays in the life of an entrepreneur.

“The greatest entrepreneurs, they come back and do it again. I think that is what makes them successful entrepreneurs,” said Steve while referring to some of his early role models, the founders of PayPal such as Peter Thiel, Max Levchin, and Elon Musk.

“It’s impossible that every startup that you’re going to be behind is going to be a success. It’s just statistically impossible.”

In fact, Steve went on to emphasize that many entrepreneurs in the Silicon Valley “take pride in the number of companies they have worked at that have failed.”

Often it’s these kinds of struggles that leave the strongest impressions, allowing us to achieve more success the next time around.

Steve recalled that one of his more memorable challenges involved leading a 20+ member team as part of PayPal’s foray into China. In early 2005, few people in China used credit cards and most payments required a visit to the post office.

While “it was a great idea, [that] never amounted to much,” he still gained invaluable experience learning how to deal with underperforming staff. For Steve, sometimes this would mean having to “tap [a team member] on the shoulder and say, ‘Can we talk for 30 minutes?’” and have those tough chats.

Difficult as they may be, first-time experiences like these “paid off dividends later on [for Steve] at YouTube.”

Sometimes life just happens

But, perhaps an even stronger argument for taking chances and overcoming the fear of failure is the uncertainty of what life may bring.

After the monumental achievement of getting YouTube in the spotlight during the 2007 Democratic presidential primary debates, Steve suddenly suffered a seizure while aboard a plane returning home. For two years he dealt with the anxiety and uncertainty over his condition before finally deciding to go ahead with invasive brain surgery. In his physician’s assessment, the procedure was a “6 out of 10” with 10 being the most dangerous of surgeries.  

While such a close call might have convinced some to follow a more conservative lifestyle, for Steve this fueled his passion to continue taking on the risks and excitement of starting a new venture.   

FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: Anita Huang (Captain, TSS), Steve Chen (Co-founder & former CTO, YouTube), Cate Xie (Co-founder & CBDO, SkyREC), Aldrich Huang (Co-founder & CEO, UXTesting), Ed Deng (Co-founder & CEO, Health2Sync), James Shen (Co-founder & CEO, PamilyApp)

FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: Anita Huang (Captain, TSS), Steve Chen (Co-founder & former CTO, YouTube), Cate Xie (Co-founder & CBDO, SkyREC), Aldrich Huang (Co-founder & CEO, UXTesting), Ed Deng (Co-founder & CEO, Health2Sync), James Shen (Co-founder & CEO, PamilyApp)

Words of advice

Steve often encounters founders who ask him what they should do next. Most of the time, he finds that everything is in alignment. It’s just that the founders are reluctant to take that big leap. Steve acknowledges that the “hardest part about creating a successful startup is to create it.”

“If it fails, you learn something, or maybe you just do it differently the next time….but [the hardest part] is going out there and taking that first step.”

So, not surprisingly, what’s Steve’s biggest tip for startup founders?

“Just do it!”

Do you agree with Steve? Have your failures become sources of your success? Share your thoughts with us on our Facebook page.


Youtube 共同創辦人及前任 CTO 陳士駿。

Youtube 共同創辦人及前任 CTO 陳士駿。

雖然有強颱尼伯特逼近,Youtube的共同創辦人及前任CTO陳士駿還是來了-坐下來跟 Bloomberg Gadfly資深記者Tim Culpan來場爐邊閒談,然後跟一個個出現的台灣新創團隊面對面聊天,包括 Health2Sync, PamilyApp, SkyREC 以及 UXTesting

聽眾對於陳士駿和Tim Culpan之間的互嘲感到有趣。

聽眾對於陳士駿和Tim Culpan之間的互嘲感到有趣。

位於台北市區三創數位園區的頂樓,全場充滿著500位無畏颱風、堅強聚首在此的人群,就是為了要聽一個歷經矽谷核心的指標企業包括 Paypal、Ebay、Facebook和Youtube等成功創業家親自分享觀點和經驗。

陳士駿談到了創業家的生活中,如何背負風險和失敗。從大學輟學、跳到難得一生只有一次加入機會的Paypal,到他最近新的冒險NOM-一個關於食物烹飪的現場直播、具互動性的影音平台。

 

 

失敗總在意料之中

台上左方:Tim Culpan,右方:陳士駿。

台上左方:Tim Culpan,右方:陳士駿。

當「害怕失敗(FOFA, Fear of Failure)」近年在台灣常受到議論、說這形成了台灣人從事創業的強烈阻力,陳士駿也進一步強調,「失敗」在創業家生活中是扮演多麼重要的角色:「偉大的創業家,他們會捲土重來、東山再起。我認為就是憑藉這個精神,才讓他們得以成為成功的創業家。」他也提及早期心中的模範代表-Paypal的創辦人們,像是 Peter Thiel, Max Levchin 和 Elon Musk 。

 

 

「每一個你經手過的新創公司都要成功,是不可能的事。至少數據上來說,是不可能的。」其實,陳士駿繼續強調,許多矽谷的創業家「對他們創立且失敗的公司數量,反而感到驕傲。」通常就是因為這些努力掙扎,帶來更強烈的印象,在下一次能創造更多成功。

陳士駿回想他面臨過的深刻挑戰之一,就是帶領Paypal 20多人的團隊進軍中國。早期2005年,在中國很少人使用信用卡,很多款項還需要透過郵局支付-「那是個好點子,但當時做不成。」陳士駿也從如何和表現不佳的員工相處中獲取更多寶貴經驗。有時候他要「拍拍人家肩膀」然後說「我們可以聊個30分鐘嗎?」。就是因為像這些早期歷經的挑戰,讓他深信這些在「之後Youtube時期帶來了好處」。

人生有時就是這麼發生了

但是,比挺身冒險和克服失敗,讓人更激烈討論的,應該是-不知道下一步生活中會出現什麼的那種不確定感。2007年,Youtube在民主選舉的重要辯論中,成為眾人焦點的里程碑達成之後,陳士駿在從國外返家的班機上突然癲癇發作。在決定進行微創腦部手術之前,他花了兩年的時間處理對於身體狀況的焦慮及不安。當時他的治療師評估,這個手術危險評等是分為10等級中的6等,也就是最危險的手術之一。

從左至右: 黃蕙雯 (台灣新創競技場執行長), 陳士駿 ( YouTube共同創辦人及前任CTO), 謝凱蒂 (SkyREC共同創辦人及商務發展總監), 黃彥嘉 (UXTesting共同創辦人及執行長), 鄧居義 (Health2Sync共同創辦人及執行長), 沈容賡 (PamilyApp共同創辦人及執行長)

從左至右: 黃蕙雯 (台灣新創競技場執行長), 陳士駿 ( YouTube共同創辦人及前任CTO), 謝凱蒂 (SkyREC共同創辦人及商務發展總監), 黃彥嘉 (UXTesting共同創辦人及執行長), 鄧居義 (Health2Sync共同創辦人及執行長), 沈容賡 (PamilyApp共同創辦人及執行長)

箴言

他把這樣人生重大轉折的經驗,視為提供他繼續發起新的冒險旅程、承擔風險的重要動力。

陳士駿常常遇到創業家們問他下一步要做什麼,絕大部分的時候,他發現當下所有事情都已經水到渠成,只是這些創業家不願意去面對下一個大的跳躍。陳士駿承認「創立一個成功的新創公司的過程中,最難的部分就在於-創建它。」「如果它失敗了,你學到了一些事情,或者下次你只要用不同方法去做。但最難之處在於,走出去、踏出第一步。」

所以,不意外地,陳士駿對新創家最重要的建議是?

「做就對了!」

你同意陳士駿嗎? 你也有過將失敗轉化成下一個成功的經驗嗎?
來我們的粉絲團分享你的想法!