The Portable CTO
Startups · Technology · Leadership
I really like the analogy of Tetris when it comes to technical debt:
"Each new fix or development is like a new block coming in, which you need to integrate with the existing code. If you hack it in a quick and dirty way, it’s like leaving holes in the Tetris structure: you’re making life more difficult down the line."
The truth is, every company has some level of technical debt. Some engineers get really bent out of shape about the amount of it - sometimes rightly so - but good businesses can't build perfect software. Perfect software probably doesn't even exist.

What we can do is be pragmattic and see the bigger picture. Technical debt allows us to move fast when we need to and forces us to slow down when we must.
Early stage startups used to struggle to offer retirement plans, healthcare, and other benefits, but Gusto has changed that. Most of these services are so cheap and easy to set up with Gusto that there's no reason not to offer them.
"When you’re critical to a project, you’re playing a decisive or crucial role in the success, failure or existence of something. As leaders and engineers, we’re all in this position at some point. But you can’t stay there."
"The tech industry loves to talk about ‘moats’ around a business...but there are several ways that a moat can stop working...sometimes the river changes course or someone opens a new pass over the mountains..this is what happened to IBM and Microsoft. The competition isn’t another mainframe’s something that solves the same underlying user needs in very different ways."
"Before the Internet, companies built products before audiences. Now, they build audiences before products."
"We all need our own Personal Board of Directors. The people that can advise, critique, praise, motivate and generally steer each of us through the minefield that is our career. I like to think of my own Personal Board of Directors as 6 - 8 people that connect with me in a number of ways."
"What makes a good design? This is probably the most important and challenging question. I will make a distinction between theory and practice. To my experience, having a mix of both is most valuable."
Personal Updates
Thanks to all of you for sending podcast recommendations last week! I started listening to: Feel free to keep sending suggestions if you have them.
Karl Hughes
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