Paul Graham


English-born American Programmer, Venture Capitalist and Essayist known for his work on Lisp and for co-founding Viaweb (which became Yahoo! Store)

Author Quotes

If you could replace high-school yearbooks, that could be a lot of money. It's so clearly waiting for someone to come along.

In the startup world, 'not working' is normal.

Like having a child, running a startup is the sort of experience that's hard to imagine unless you've done it yourself.

So hackers start original, and get good, and scientists start good, and get original.

The most dangerous form of procrastination is unacknowledged type-B procrastination [putting off important things to do unimportant things], because it doesn't feel like procrastination. You're "getting things done." Just the wrong things.

Then I said jokingly, but not entirely jokingly, 'But not from me,' and everyone's faces fell, ... Afterwards, I had dinner with some of these guys and they seemed amazingly competent and I thought, 'You know, these guys probably could start companies.'

When technology makes something dramatically cheaper, standardization always follows.

If you have to choose between two theories, prefer the one that doesn't center on you.

Instagram is an anomaly, not a sort of thing you can reproduce. One reason that you're hearing people talk about high valuations is that companies are taking much longer to go public. Yes, prices are high. But there is a difference between high prices and a bubble. Valuations are high, which means they will probably go down, and then they will go back up again and then down. But a bubble is a different thing. A bubble is when people knowingly pay ridiculously high valuations hoping to sell their assets to a greater fool later. And that's not going on now. No one is thinking that they're going to fund this company and it's going to go public and stupid retail investors are going to buy these overpriced stocks at an even higher price. I know these people. That's not their motivation.

Nerds aren't losers. They're just playing a different game, and a game much closer to the one played in the real world.

Software has to be designed by hackers who understand design, not designers who know a little about software. If you can't design software as well as implement it, don't start a startup.

The most dangerous way to lose time is not to spend it having fun, but to spend it doing fake work. When you spend time having fun, you know you're being self-indulgent. Alarms start to go off fairly quickly. If I woke up one morning and sat down on the sofa and watched TV all day, I'd feel like something was terribly wrong... But the same alarms don't go off on the days when I get nothing done, because I'm doing stuff that seems, superficially, like real work.

There are all these great programmers out there who think starting a startup requires esoteric business knowledge,

When those far removed from the creation of wealth -- undergraduates, reporters, politicians -- hear that the richest 5% of the people have half the total wealth, they tend to think injustice! An experienced programmer would be more likely to think is that all? The top 5% of programmers probably write 99% of the good software.

If you imagine someone with 100 percent determination and 100 percent intelligence, you can discard a lot of intelligence before they stop succeeding. But if you start discarding determination, you very quickly get an ineffectual and perpetual grad student.

Introducing change is like pulling off a bandage: the pain is a memory as soon as you feel it.

Nerds just don't happen to dress informally. They do it too consistently. Consciously or not, they dress informally as prophylactic measure against stupidity.

Some people just get what they want in the world.

The most important quality in a CEO is his vision for the company?s future.

There are few sources of energy so powerful as a procrastinating grad student.

When you catch bugs early, you also get fewer compound bugs. Compound bugs are two separate bugs that interact: you trip going downstairs, and when you reach for the handrail it comes off in your hand.

If you leave a bunch of eleven-year-olds to their own devices, what you get is Lord of the Flies.

It is clear that a substantial section of the public believes what she did was undermining good governance, irrespective of the rights and wrongs of this particular case. This suggests the presidency will have to reformulate the guidelines in an appropriate manner.

Nerds serve two masters. They want to be popular, certainly, but they want even more to be smart. And popularity is not something you can do in your spare time, not in the fiercely competitive environment of an American secondary school.

Someone trying to live well would seem eccentrically abstemious in most of the US. That phenomenon is only going to become more pronounced. You can probably take it as a rule of thumb from now on that if people don't think you're weird, you're living badly.

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English-born American Programmer, Venture Capitalist and Essayist known for his work on Lisp and for co-founding Viaweb (which became Yahoo! Store)