Development practices, Silicon Valley vs. Los Angeles

Our cul-de-sac has a halloween tradition of building a fire and having a potluck at the end of the street.  It’s a great place to catch up with the happenings in the neighborhood and chatting about all sorts of topics.

One of the topics that came up was the recent acqusition of [Our cul-de-sac has a halloween tradition of building a fire and having a potluck at the end of the street.  It’s a great place to catch up with the happenings in the neighborhood and chatting about all sorts of topics.

One of the topics that came up was the recent acqusition of]1 and which got onto the topic of software development practices between SV and LA.  Which is an interesting topic, I’ve been struggeling with the results of the merger for the last six weeks (PR was way late on this topic).   What help me focus my thinking was a combination of observations and a recent American Masters PBS series on Warner Brothers.   In the PBS series two things struck me:

  • Terry Semel sounds like a nice guy during an interview
  • Somebody made the comment that nobody at WB was creative (or something to that effect), it was the director.

What does that have to do with SV vs. LA — Simple.

LA Software development is based on the studio system:

  • Single person driving a vision

    Think directors vision for a film, somebody provides financing and they hire worker bees to do it.

  • Collaboration is not supported

    You’re a worker bee — you might be a great cinematographer — but don’t tell me how to edit a film.

SV is a research vision:

  • Team driving a vision

    Classic line is from the VC community — we don’t fund ideas we fund teams.

  • Collaboration/conflict is a way of driving to better ideas

    Hallway conversations and communications are cited as the source of good products (think Lunch 2.0 — foo camp etc.)

Can you build good products with either, sure.  Reunion.com claims to have $55m in revenue — way cool!  But, when you start talking about how to build a good consumer experience you end up in this world “it’s the way it is, so shut up and do your job” (think over compartmentization).

The one thing I’ve realized is that individuals are the most creative people when given the chance — look at YouTube — companies, products, and services should all focus on tapping that market to be successful.

Terry Semel / Yahoo note —–

What’s the difference between Yahoo and Google — Yahoo was founded on the research principal and drifted to the studio model and somewhere in between it lost a single operating model.  So, what’s left is a company that’s stuck in meetings and consensus building, not kicking butt.  If there isn’t a law against it, do it.