Complex Tech is in Las Vegas for the first annual SXSW V2V conference. Check in here for our daily dispatches.

In 2005, on a sunny day in New York City’s Union Square, Mark Zuckerberg, then just a budding social media impresario, met with Kevin Colleran. There was just one problem: Zuckerberg had mistaken Colleran for someone else.

Days later Sean Parker, who was then second in command at Facebook, spoke with Colleran over the phone. “We thought you were a black guy,” Parker told Colleran. Parker was referring to Colleran’s profile picture, which showed him standing next to rapper 50 Cent, a wide grin splayed across his face.

It was one of the many stories Colleran told Wednesday afternoon during the final day of V2V. As Facebook’s seventh employee—“I replaced Eduardo, if you saw the movie,” he joked—Colleran became the social network’s first ever salesperson. 

 

Through the hour-long talk, tech entrepreneurs, both young and gray haired, listened attentively hoping Colleran would impart the secret to financial stability.

 

From 2005 to 2011, Colleran helped secure some of the company’s biggest accounts, establishing the social network’s ad revenue stream for years to come.

On Wednesday much of Colleran’s time was spent dispelling myths about Zuckerberg’s hatred toward advertisers. “There was this assumption that advertising was a bad thing, and was making the site worse,” he said. “But Mark was always open to advertising. He was just disappointed that the ads were bad.”

Colleran is now a Venture Partner at General Catalyst Partners, a firm that has invested in Airbnb and Snapchat, among a dozen other startups.

Ads have been apart of Facebook from the very beginning, Colleran told the crowd, noting the fliers placed on pages in the site’s early days. The original Facebook, he reminded attendees, also had banner ads, which eventually evolved into ads displayed in the newsfeed, then into sponsored stories, fan pages, and likes. Mobile ads, he said, were added in 2012.

A lot of what Facebook does now, Colleran noted, is native advertising, where an ad is designed specifically for an individual page.

Through the hour-long talk, tech entrepreneurs, both young and gray haired, listened attentively hoping Colleran would impart the secret to financial stability. 

Successful startups, Colleran believed, were able to tap into one very important factor: a delicate balance between advertising and the user experience. “It’s hard,” he said, quickly admitting, “Advertisers hate change.”