In 2013 a New York Times article quoted me as saying "I can be tricked by anyone who looks like Mark Zuckerberg."
That sentence has since become a minor Internet meme, as cherished
by its adherents as the idea that Obama was born outside the US.
Is it true? Of course not. That statement was a joke. I have a
strange ability to notice things about faces. In 2010 we had one
applicant that I noticed during the interview looked like Zuck.
Afterward I bored the other partners with an explanation of why.
After years of hearing this sort of thing, my observations about
faces had become an ongoing joke within YC. The startup in question
fell apart almost immediately due to a cofounder dispute, and
afterward the other partners kidded me for talking so much about
how he looked like Zuck.
It was not only a joking reference to a single incident, but
the fact that we joked about it shows we knew that looking like
Zuck had no predictive value.
As if anyone would think it did. Could anyone be so naive as to
think that resembling Zuck would be enough to make a founder succeed?
And is it plausible that we, of all people, who'd interviewed
thousands of founders, would think such a thing?
So why have so many people since believed I was serious? For the
same reason, presumably, that others cling so tenaciously to the
idea that Obama was born outside the US: because they so want to
Will writing this fix the problem? Not entirely, I'm sure. In fact
one of the reasons I wrote it was that I'm curious how fixable this
sort of bogus meme is. But it will be harder now to make an honest
mistake. People will probably still repeat that quote, but now if
someone does it will be proof that either (a) they didn't do their
research or (b) they have an ideological axe to grind.