Matt Cutts on the US Digital Service and Working at Google for 17 Years

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Matt Cutts is the Administrator of the US Digital Service and previously he was the head of the webspam team at Google.

The YC podcast is hosted by Craig Cannon.

Y Combinator invests a small amount of money ($150k) in a large number of startups (recently 200), twice a year.

Learn more about YC and apply for funding here:



00:00 – Intro

00:18 – Working at Google in 2000

2:30 – Did Google’s success feel certain?

3:35 – Building self-service ads

7:05 – The evil unicorn problem

8:05 – Lawsuits around search

10:30 – Content moderation and spam

14:20 – Matt’s progression over 17 years at Google

17:00 – Deepfakes

18:25 – Joining the USDS

20:45 – What the USDS does

23:25 – Working at the USDS

26:25 – Educating people in government about tech

28:40 – Creating a rapid feedback loop within government

31:30 – Michael Wang asks – How does USDS decide whether to outsource something to a private company, or build the software in house?

32:40 – Spencer Clark asks – It would seem that the government is so far behind the private industry’s technology. To what extent is this true and what can be done about it? How should we gauge the progress of institutions like the USDS?

35:45 – Stephan Sturges asks – With GANs getting more and more powerful is the USDS thinking about the future of data authenticity?

38:05 – John Doherty asks – How difficult was it to communicate Google’s algorithm changes and evolving SEO best practices without leaking new spam tactics?

40:00 – Vanman0254 asks – How can smart tech folks better contribute to regulatory and policy discussions in government?

42:20 – Ronak Shah asks – What’s your best pitch to high-performing startups in the Bay Area to adopt more of human centered design (something that the government has been moving towards surprisingly well, but that some fast moving startups have neglected resulting in controversy)

49:40 – Adam Hoffman asks – What are legislators, the government, and the general populace most “getting wrong” in how they conceptualize the internet?

51:15 – Raphael Ferreira asks – Is it possible to live without google? How do you think google affected people in searching for answers and content, now that’s we find everything in just one click?

55:05 – Tim Woods asks – Which job was more fun and why?

56:55 – Working in government vs private industry

1:00:30 – Snehan Kekre asks – What is Matt’s view of the ongoing debate about backdooring encryption for so called lawful interception?

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