Lack of time leads to simple automation

In the early days of the dot-com boom, reading the book Patterns of Software by Richard Gabriel made me aware of the risks of having too much (venture) capital for a project. If a project has too much money allocated to it, there may not be enough driving force to eliminate wasteful work.

One of these wastes is not automating repetitive tasks. Fast Company Now guest host Keith Yamashita refers in Systems thinking: The Product to a speach by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar:

So people often say to me – “when you built the system, you must have known that making it self-sustainable was the only way eBay could grow to serve 40 million users a day.” Well… nope. I made the system self-sustaining for one reason:Back when I launched eBay on Labor Day 1995, eBay wasn’t my business – it was my hobby. I had to build a system that was self-sustaining… …Because I had a real job to go to every morning.

When you’re the sole programmer and product visionary, this is doable. Your lack of time will force you to choose between glitzy new features and stabilizing the system (e.g. by preventing and removing defects and automating repetitive tasks). I’m curious how eBay does it now it has become much larger, and more people will likely be involved in decision-making and programming…

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