Antonio Garcia Martinez career is impressive: He served as an advisor to Twitter, as one of the first product managers on Facebook’s ad team and is the CEO and founder of AdGrok, a venture-backed AdTech startup that participated in Y Combinator and was later acquired by Twitter.
His career started after he made the decision to stop pursuing a PhD in Physics at UC Berkeley and join Goldman Sachs as a strategist. When the financial crisis hit Martinez ventured into the startup world and began a career that is “completely typical” for Silicon Valley.
More recently Martinez became known to a wider audience as the author of Chaos Monkeys, a New York Times bestseller. In his book, Martinez shares his experiences in the tech world and gives a behind-the-scenes look at Facebook and the “illustrious” startup culture. The book portrays the “obscene fortune and random failure in Silicon Valley.”
Today Martinez lives on a 40-foot-long sailboat located in the San Francisco Bay, which he is getting ready to sail around the world.
“This is how the Silicon Valley works: You launch ten half-ready products out of the blue and announce them as the ‘savior of humanity’. Seven of these miserably fail, two do kind of okay, only one does absolutely amazing with incredible monetarization for reasons that only make sense after the fact. And, you will take that after-the-fact explanation and rewrite the creation myth of the product to make it seem like you knew this was going to happen all along but of course you didn’t.”
In this interview with Startup Notes, Martinez talks about everything startups. He starts with Silicon Valley culture, explains why Facebook is a special company and why tech startups increasing automatization is a major threat to society. He also gives advice on how European startup founders can increase their chances of participating in the famous Y Combinator accelerator program.
Here are the topics that we cover in this podcast:
[01:00 – 05:46] The main stages of his career
[05:47 – 09:52] Why he criticizes the Silicon Valley startup ecosystem and its culture
[09:53 – 11:41] On what makes Facebook a special company
[11:42 – 16:24] How Silicon Valley and Facebook actually work
[16:25 – 17:37] On why “bro culture” and sexism in Silicon Valley are difficult topics
[17:38 – 22:41] How “acq-hires” work and how he joined Facebook after he sold his company to Twitter
[22:42 – 28:53] On automation and its societal implications
[28:54 – 34:59] Basic income as a consequence of automatization
[35:00 – 39:13] How to get into Y Combinator as a European startup
[39:14 – 41:55] On the correlation between “psychopath founders” and startup success
[41:56 – 44:37] On his career goals and bucket list
This text originally appeared on Startup Notes.
Photo credit: Visual Hunt