Wednesday, December 12, 2007

This Is Either Bad Or Good

Cory Lindon is leaving Linden Lab, in his own words, it appears to be over creative differences. Some people think this is a bad thing, that he is the guy that "made it work". I love the following quote from Cory:

Creating a programming language that now had 2.5 billion lines of code written in it – note to self, next time spend more than one night designing language.

That brings back memories of bad architectural decisions in my life as well.

Now, I'm going to preface all of the following, with, I haven't met Cory, have any inside information about this in anyway, or have any personal axes to grind.

I think this could be a very good thing. Send any flames my way you want, but I don't believe anyone's perfect.

Cory built a platform that I've dedicated lot's of time to and certainly a fair amount of money. Anything I spend that much time with, I have an opinion on. He made this crazy concept a working system. It has many flaws that are keeping it from being truly great and continuing the breakneck growth it showed earlier.

There are crashes, bugs, outages, inventory loss,and numerous other things that mar the Second Life experience. Cory could be a very good software engineer, very creative, very innovative, but he may not make a good CTO. The skills that are good at starting a project and getting it to the "first stage" are not the skills that get you to the "next stage." They are not mutually exclusive, but they are not the same.

Unlike others, I like that Cory made the client open source. I like that he supported libsecondlife. I drank the Kool-Aid a long time ago about open source and how fundamentally right it is.

All of that does not make him good at managing the architecture of a system, to stabilize it, to hunker down and do the boring things that need to be done on the platform. Some people are comparing him to Wozniak and drawing similarities to what happened at Apple. I think Wozniak leaving was ultimately good for Apple.

I read an excerpt from Michael Dell's book in which he talked about having to ask for the resignations of many of his close friends that helped him build Dell once the company grew really big. His comments went something like, "It was incredibly hard to do, they were good $100 million dollar managers, but they weren't $1 billion dollar managers." The skill set for running organizations and making them work at different sizes and different scales changes. Some can continue to reinvent themselves and change, others cannot or will not.

In the end Linden Lab is a business and businesses that grow and are pushing to grow big will go through certain stages. We've hit the "boring corporate retrenchment" stage. I just hope that Cory isn't replaced by someone from the "big corporate" stage, who doesn't know how to shepherd a growing company through the middle phases.

3 comments:

Veyron Supercharge said...

I would agree that the hardest thing for the techies to take is what I would call adult supervision. It's very easy to ignore problems and whining users. (forgetting the fact that those users are the ones ultimately that pay for your paycheck.)

Taking out the trash, cleaning the toilet, and mopping the floor are all part of being an adult. Just like being able to produce reliable code.

Dalien said...

Tiessa: Could not agree more with all you've written. "corporate entrenchment" is probably too strong of a term though :) Maybe "growing up" ?

Veyron: IMHO there is no such thing as "reliable code" :-) All the code is unreliable, just to a different degrees.

A. Burgess said...

I'm with you, Tiessa. Good thoughts.