Lessons from Uber on developer productivity & platforms

Tell me the last new condiment you tried that you didn’t like.

Developer Productivity

One of my co-workers worked at Uber for awhile on their internal developer tools and platforms. In this week’s Tanzu Talk episode, Cora and I talk to him about what they did, why, and how as well. Check out the video below, or the podcast episode if you prefer that.

Relative to your interests

  • Pitchfork & The Death of the critic - Death of the critic? No, as always, when the medium changes, how the job is done is changes. // “The culture critics who spent days creating words of criticism now have to evolve to use today’s tools to help others think differently, try new things, and have an influence. Playlists are the new words. Followers are the new readers. Critics of yesterday are now ‘tastemakers.’ While anyone can be a tastemaker, to be good, and have real influence, one still needs to have skills that add up to a professional critic – broad awareness of modern and past works, other aspects of life, understanding of popular culture, knowledge of society, and contemporary politics, economics, and global context.” // Socrates hated writing. His medium was talking. He feared that writing would ruin philosophy. Plato learned the new medium, and the reach was more powerful effective and durable. A 60 second video may not seem like a critical piece, but if it contains critical analysis and, even, recommendations, of course it is.

  • Why Agile doesn’t work for most IT pros: The bigger you are, the harder you fall - I thought they’d stopped doing the State of Agile surveys, so it’s fun to see a new one.

  • Bell Labs & Google: bookends of the same sad story? - “Whether it’s Bell Labs, Xerox Parc, or IBM Research Labs, the story is always the same: corporate overlords are so married to the staid predictability of their cash cows that they fail to make bold decisions. Middle managers who eventually rise to the top lack the imagination or risk-taking capabilities to put their companies on new growth curves.” // I don’t like this as a complete failure explanation. The missing piece is something more like innovation in business models: figuring out how to create a business out new products and new features, and often failing to! The comments from Google people are right, though: you need some kind of innovation and product driven leadership to keep the product going. In contrast to the usual innovate or die mindset, an appreciate for cash cows: yes, your company is “just” a cash cow with predictable, low growth revenue. That is how most businesses function and it’s perfectly fine: you just have different expectations as an investor and an employee. You are low risk, you are steady, and likely you are part of how society functions. You move slow and care for things.

  • Related, incremental improvement (or “drift”): “In other words, to build a great data business, today’s startups don’t have to come up with particularly novel ideas or get a bunch of bets about the market right. They just have to rebuild what’s already there, but more deliberately and on more certain ground than the original pioneers could.”


  • I have no idea what they’re doing, but they’re obviously not very good at it.

  • Two models of judging “value”: (1) how much value you can create, (2) how much value you can take. You can grow a forest, or you can harvest a forest. You can lower prices, or you can raise prices. You can collaborate, or you can take credit. We aspire to turn all those or’s into and’s, but we mostly do one or the other.

  • All process improvement can be learned by how to manage the flow of laundry and dirty dishes. And we should take the overwhelming nature of those as therapeutic council that you can never master it consistently. Especially when you have kids.

  • “On the other hand, the frenzy is destabilizing.” Here.


It’s a regular hurry up and wait situation at the moment.,, @cote,,