The Platform Rant

Steve Yegge had (what he called) his Jerry Maguire moment when he published his “Google Platforms Rant”. It was originally published on Google Plus, which is long dead, and ironically what Steve was ranting about without specifically naming it. I’ll have to link to it via what I think has become the canonical Gist, somehow.

The overall point was about one thing: dogfooding. He makes the point incredibly strongly by saying that “Amazon does everything wrong, and Google does everything right” except pretty much one thing, and that one thing is dogfooding their own services. That one thing is so important, that it means Amazon wins the services war. This concept came from Bezos himself circa 2002, which Steve paraphrases like this:

1. All teams will henceforth expose their data and functionality through service interfaces.

2. Teams must communicate with each other through these interfaces.

3. There will be no other form of interprocess communication allowed: no direct linking, no direct reads of another team’s data store, no shared-memory model, no back-doors whatsoever. The only communication allowed is via service interface calls over the network.

4. It doesn’t matter what technology they use. HTTP, Corba, Pubsub, custom protocols — doesn’t matter. Bezos doesn’t care.

5. All service interfaces, without exception, must be designed from the ground up to be externalizable. That is to say, the team must plan and design to be able to expose the interface to developers in the outside world. No exceptions.

6. Anyone who doesn’t do this will be fired.

7. Thank you; have a nice day!

Ha, ha! You 150-odd ex-Amazon folks here will of course realize immediately that #7 was a little joke I threw in, because Bezos most definitely does not give a shit about your day.

You can tell by that last sentence that Steve meant this text to be for a limited internal audience, but he fumbled the permissions on Google Plus (yet another irony) and it went public.

The post itself is a juicy and interesting read, that feels like it could have been written in any of the last 10 years. I’ve seen this post talked about and quoted loads of times, and I’m just now seeing that Steve has posted a video of the story behind it:

It’s full of even juicier behind-the-scenes stuff. We don’t get all that much exposè stuff like this in tech. Probably everyone is too busy protecting their career. A final irony in that this nothing but helped Steve, it seems.

2 responses to “The Platform Rant”

  1. Rach Smith says:

    I like that he referred to the thing that used to be called GSuite as the “thing that used to be called GSuite” and called out the name change. This is how I refer to it and I’ve only heard other people call it this. I pay for this product and I have no idea what it is called now.

  2. Thanks for sharing! I hadn’t heard of the Platform Rant by Steve and it sent me down a good Google and Reddit rabbit hole. It’s really interesting to think about this rant in the context of the last 10 years and to your point it could have occurred at any point. Super interesting post.

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