Over the last fifteen years, every major aspect of our lives has changed because of Facebook. Like Facebook or not, you can’t deny its success. And to a large degree, that success stems from the “move fast” ethos. The entire culture of Facebook is built for speed.

Jeff Meyerson’s new book Move Fast is an exploration of modern software strategies and tactics through the lens of Facebook. Relying on in-depth interviews with more than two dozen Facebook engineers, this book explores the product strategy, cultural principles, and technologies that made Facebook the dominant social networking company. Most importantly, Move Fast investigates how readers can apply those strategies to their creative projects.

I recently caught up with Jeff to learn what inspired him to write the book, his favorite idea he shares with readers, and the lesson he’s learned from writing about Facebook.

Published with permission from the author.

What happened that made you decide to write the book? What was the exact moment when you realized these ideas needed to get out there?

I wrote the book because Facebook’s engineering has not been explored or written about in great detail. Facebook does a lot of things that are unique and unlike anything else in the software industry. Part of that is due to the fact they’re building a one-of-a-kind company. Another part is the large cash streams that are coming into the company. But part of it, too, is they’ve rethought engineering best practices in a very modern way.

The exact moment I realized these ideas needed to get out there was when I was doing probably my 10th interview with a Facebook engineer for my podcast, Software Engineering Daily. I realized these people truly thought differently than any other software company I had interviewed. Given the depth of this difference, I knew a book needed to be written about it.

What’s your favorite specific, actionable idea in the book?

Anyone can find a cash cow if they dig hard enough. Facebook’s cash cow was threatened when migrating from desktop to mobile. Why? Because the popularity of social media was clearly shifting to mobile and nobody knew if mobile advertising was going to be viable.

So, this shift put Facebook into an existential crisis of sorts. The idea remained unproven until Facebook successfully shifted its entire core business from a desktop-based product to a mobile product. It’s easy to underestimate how hard it is to make this sort of shift, but Facebook did an incredible organizational shift. I think the broader lesson is that if you have a company with tenacity and strong culture, it almost doesn’t matter what your product is because you can continually reshape what you are offering to the market.

Published with permission from the author.

What’s a lesson you’ve learned from writing this book? How have you applied it to your life?

I’ve been building software companies for six years and they’ve almost all failed, but I have learned enough lessons that I still persist. I understand that it’s possible to build a successful company, and from Facebook, I take away the fact that they just never give up. They’re such a prideful company that’s so mission-oriented, and to me, that’s very inspiring.

It makes me want to make something as magnificent. I think these titanic software companies are the greatest artistic act that somebody can undertake. This lesson has done a lot for me because it’s motivated me to continue to push to build my own software products. As I thought about and wrote about the successes of Facebook and the challenges the company has faced over the years, I was comforted about the struggles I’ve faced in my business.