I am a startup founder and worked in startups most of my career. Here’s the advice that helped me most so far, compressed into one post. This is mainly for first-time early-stage founders.

I have always thought of my childhood as fairly typical if not dull. But it recently dawned onto me that it was in fact quite fascinating.

My dad is a software engineer. He studied the Soviet version of computer science in the 70s. When I was born he was working…

We went from complex to simple to complex again. Before AWS there were lots of pieces of hardware, so lots of “glue” that was hard to manage. Then cloud introduced an abstraction layer. There were few services (EC2, S3, RDS), little “glue” in-between, easy to manage. But then more and…

I love snowboarding, especially freestyle. And I love startups. For a while I was wondering, why is that? Is it just about risk, or is there more to it? And it seems there is.

Snowboarding, bmx, skateboarding and other sports that used to be called “extreme” a long time ago…

So AWS gives startups $100k in free credits. Google and Azure have similar programs for startups. Then why isn’t every startup CTO starting on the Big Cloud?

The real cost of going with AWS is its complexity. There is hardly anything more important to an early-stage startup than moving fast…

Startup pop culture has it totally wrong about launching a product. Most of early stage should have little to do with building. It is the least effective investment of time, unless there is no faster way to get feedback.

Early stage is about finding unorthodox ways to not build something…

Originally a spontaneous response to a great thread by Lee Edwards

For over a decade, building software is becoming harder, not easier. Complexity growth is outpacing tooling. This results in further specialisation of developers.

Growing overspecialisation is choking the industry. The entry barrier is getting lower but the lane is…

Prediction: it’s 2021, not 2020, that will go into history books as the year when it all started. It will be far, far worse than Covid-19. And it will be done by humans to other humans.

And what’s Covid? First of all, a global tragedy. But also a convenient scapegoat for unavoidable compound consequences of decades of short-termism, borrowing from the future and economic recklessness. A convenient opening for imminent redistribution of power. A convenient primer to warm people up to the idea of death at scale.

Michael Seibel of YC warns against a cargo cult of startup stereotypes. But how to actually tell whether you are doing it or not? The line is blurry, and in fact many of the successful techniques invented and adopted by now-famous startups are indeed worth copying.

I’ve figured a good heuristic recently, and the source was very unexpected — the Silicon Valley TV series. First time I watched the first episode a long while ago I sort of took it part-seriously. But when I re-watched it recently a thought struck me: what is showcased in the series are the most stereotypical facets of startup culture, which is more like pop culture at this point. What follows is:

If you have seen it in Silicon Valley, you are probably cargo culting instead of doing something useful.

Success in business is not defined by risk taking. One off luck is not success, and nothing but one off is achievable by holding more risk than others. …

Igor Zalutski

Reading, thinking, engineering

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