October 18, 2011

A Platformized Product Will Always Win

Yesterday, I had the blessing of reading an essay by Steve Yegge, a long time Google Engineer.

The essay will surprise, inform and likely inspire you.  Read: Steve Yegge's Platform Rant.

Between Amazon and Google, he's got about thirteen years of in-the-trenches experiences working on services based platforms that we use on a routine business.  The essay uncovers previously unknown details about the two company's technology, internal policies and culture.  There are some true gold nuggets in his writing such as: 

1. The Secret for Amazon was Bezos' edict in 2002 that the entire company go on a SOA (Services Oriented Architecture) ASAP or get fired.  You were required to use the services system to ask for ANYTHING, no more emails and handshake services deals.  With that, came the discipline they needed to win or as Steve writes, "SOA-oriented design enbales Platforms." (Yes, he capitalizes Platform like Bezos capitalizes Customers in his essays.) 

2. Accessibility is the #1 user-value.  Steve puts it like this: "I'm not really sure how Bezos came to this realization -- the insight that he can't build one product and have it be right for everyone. But it doesn't matter, because he gets it. There's actually a formal name for this phenomenon. It's called Accessibility, and it's the most important thing in the computing world. The. Most. Important. Thing." (Love this style, like Justin Halperin uses for emphasis in Shit My Dad Says.)

He goes on to make a brilliant point about Access VS Security: "Like anything else big and important in life, Accessibility has an evil twin who, jilted by the unbalanced affection displayed by their parents in their youth, has grown into an equally powerful Arch-Nemesis (yes, there's more than one nemesis to accessibility) named Security. And boy howdy are the two ever at odds. But I'll argue that Accessibility is actually more important than Security because dialing Accessibility to zero means you have no product at all, whereas dialing Security to zero can still get you a reasonably successful product such as the Playstation Network." (Nice dig dude.  You could write for HuffPo with that attitude.)

3. [Services] products need platforms to scale and succeed. This is Web 3.0 thinking, and he couldn't be more spot on.  Here's how he explained it: "A product is useless without a platform, or more precisely and accurately, a platform-less product will always be replaced by an equivalent platform-ized product." He continues, and this is where it gets juicy: "Google+ is a prime example of our complete failure to understand platforms from the very highest levels of executive leadership (hi Larry, Sergey, Eric, Vic, howdy howdy) down to the very lowest leaf workers (hey yo). We all don't get it. The Golden Rule of platforms is that you Eat Your Own Dogfood. The Google+ platform is a pathetic afterthought."

If you aren't already compelled to stop, read this article and learn a lot about what's coming next, you aren't serious about the web/tech/mobile/social game.  One other note: This entire rant is still up on Google+, and the host (Steve already took the post down) claims he'd remove it with ONE request - which still hasn't come from Google Legal.  That speaks volumes about the open culture of spirited debate at Google.  

This is the best thing I've seen leaked since the Peanut Butter Manifesto went viral in Yahoo-lore.  

Posted at 10:37 AM in Business Effectiveness , Business Trends  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)  |  TrackBack (0)



Hi Tim,

Thank you soooo much for giving us a summary and link to the full rant. I posted on my FB and received a comment saying...'huh?' :) Wasn't surprised. I tried to re-summarize some of the key points and apply to the non-profit world. but then realized that it would be AWESOME if you have a chance, to post an 'interpretation' of the rant for business and/or non-profit folks. The understanding and application of some of the ideas Steve presents would be so helpful. Thanks tons!!!

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