During a chat with Inc. readers earlier today, Tim O'Reilly argued that the recent brouhaha over Facebook might be somewhat overblown. I'd asked him if Facebook's rollback of certain privacy features was a danger to the Web, expecting him to come down hard on the company. Instead, O'Reilly said that Facebook's missteps suggested a start-up at the cutting edge, not a company guilty of an ethical breach.
In the video, O'Reilly says that he sees Facebook's efforts as exploratory. "Facebook may have some things wrong here, but I'd rather have them trying to explore the space and being useful, [rather] than not trying at all," he says. "They're getting a lot of people hot and bothered...but [Facebook] is becoming more useful...And as long as Facebook is becoming more useful through their explorations, I'm all for them."
The comments were made during an hour long conversation with Inc. readers--hosted by our good friends at Justin.TV--and part of the Inc. Live series. The video chat, which can be viewed in its entirety here, contained lots of other interesting tidbits from the founder of O'Reilly Media, who I wrote about in our May cover story. In addition to his comments on Facebook, O'Reilly describes the beginnings of his company, lays out the reasons why all entrepreneurs should try to be trend spotters, and, during my favorite part of the chat, explains why companies that are in it for the money are making a huge mistake:
"It's really easy to get caught up in money," O'Reilly says, reiterating the point he made in my article that business is "like a road trip: You know you have to keep gas in the car, but you don't think it's a tour of gas stations."
He continues: "Every time you see a business that's gone awry they've somehow managed to convince themselves that all they were doing was going and filling the tank. That's fundamentally wrong. It's wrong for the business. It's wrong for the world. It's wrong for the entrepreneur. What you really have to do is figure out what's worth doing enough that people will pay you for it."