1/ Always important to remember in the context of recruiting almost everyone is passionate about the path they took. And the more sustained experience one has in that path, the more passionate one can get.
But what is going on with this then and now?
2/ During the earliest days of a technology, startups are the experts in the space. So while you might not learn scale management and the like at a startup, you will definitely learn the technology better.
3/ As a technology matures, the larger companies become expert (and the startups become larger) and the innovations in tech, processes, and scale are precisely relevant to how the technology is evolving.
The goal is for the startup to become big :-)
4/ The place to be for making PC hardware was Apple, but then IBM/Compaq. The place to be for PC s/w were upstarts Lotus, Borland, Ashton-Tate until it became the upstart Microsoft. Oracle v. IBM for db.
The same could be said for operating systems, programming languages, etc.
5/ Here's the "but". The reason the lessons for scale, management, etc. can be had at a big company is because the company begins to innovate in its own ecosystem. That scale knowledge becomes increasingly relevant to only the company itself.
6/ You can see this in how often difficult it is for people to transplant their skills and expertise from a big successful company to somewhere else. This isn't true _necessarily_ for soft skills (but could be), but is absolutely the case for technology knowledge and skills.
7/ When I was recruiting people to build Windows or Win apps, I could say two things with confidence:
1. Building Windows software is the most important skill in tech.
2. Microsoft is the best place to learn to build Windows software.
8/ So with great confidence (and no regret) I could say that someone wanting to build Windows software should go to Microsoft.
9/ Two challenges:
1. What is learned about building Windows s/w at Microsoft used *only* at MS. The way MS built Windows s/w was at a scale, used tools/techniques, that are essentially proprietary to MS.
2. Building Windows software stopped being important to startups (c. 2000)
10/ No different than looking back at being a programmer at IBM v a company using IBM software.
Today I'd posit this is what the massive infrastructure at G, FB, or other huge internet company is compared to startups. It is the best, but not applicable to next generation stuff.
11/ When a company is at scale the valuable technology is not on the outside it is all the tools and processes developed that help it to scale. Almost none of those are what "outside" world even knows about.
Can be seen in trying to translate, eg, Google scale tech to startups.
12/ This is what happened to the "internet". The skills and tech built up at either the new big tech companies or the previous generation were not useful to rethinking what the next generation of technology would look like.
13/ That's why something like AWS or the many cloud business applications built on it came about--these were all built without the platforms that were from the previous technology shift. Yet these were built in parallel with the scale build out of those companies.
14/ Which means the context of this "then and now" observation is super important.
Join any company you want. Just recognize the technology and skills you are actually learning relative to the platform shifts happening.
15/ Now of course platform shifts are not always easy to predict. Or they might be easy to predict but the timing is very tricky (technology focused people can quite often be right, but too soon)
Shifts can take a decade and that can be a whole career.
16/ One thing in then and now I would still say is that sticking with something for 5+ years if at all possible is valuable. I believe that 2 years on something isn't enough time to learn and absorb it. I'm not changing that aspect of then and now. // END
PS:/ If you are a star in your current big company and thinking of moving, especially if you have depth experience in the company systems, this is a good read on why moving around can be difficult. https://hbr.org/2004/05/the-risky-business-of-hiring-stars …
You can follow @stevesi.
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