How to Start a Startup - Lecture 10 Notes

October 23, 2014

I’m taking down notes for Sam Altman’s class, How to Start a Startup and I figured I’d start sharing them. This is for the tenth lecture with the following notes:

Building Culture

What is Company Culture?

Why is matters?

Elements of high performing teams

Best practices

Q/A with Brian (Airbnb)

Q. The process by which you came to realize that culture was important?


Q. How long did it take you to hire your first employee?


Q. What are Airbnb’s values?


  1. Champion the mission - we want to hire people for the mission.
  2. Be creative & frugal (better to watch this bit with the stories)

Q. How does having a story culture helped you make strong decisions?

Ans. Three things no one tells you about culture:

  1. No one ever tells you about culture
  2. It’s hard to measure
  3. It doesn’t pay off in the short-term

Q. Culture and brand were two sides of the same coin. Talk about branding for a bit.


Q. How did you communicate what Airbnb does in the early days?


Q. How do we make sure the hosts are re-enforcing the culture of Airbnb?


Q. Airbnb has made contributions to the open source community. Thoughts on how that contributes to the thoughts around the development team?


Q. There weren’t that many visitors to the site when trying to get off the ground. How did you get users to the site?


Q. A lot of people think Airbnb is more of a marketing company? Thoughts?


Discussion, links, and tweets

I'm a software enginer that's worked on various Android projects for a while now. If you'd like to follow me on Twitter, I don't always post about tech things.