[Oldletter #15] Competing with AWS, The Blockchain Problem Space, and the Bezos decision framework

Every Friday, I’m sharing a short list of evergreen articles/resources broadly related to software engineering that wouldn’t typically get shared in most tech newsletters or social media feeds.


  • How to Compete with AWS (2020) by Corey Quinn. AWS are the cloud juggernaut but many new startups are growing around its ecosystem, some as outright competitors. With this come a risk of getting sherlocked. This piece gives some practical directives for how to design and position a product to mitigate this.

    Bottom line? Do what AWS is bad at.

  • The Blockchain Problem Space (2017) by Dax Raad. An analysis of blockchain from an engineering perspective from 5 years ago which still holds true today.

    Decentralization is not free and must be a fundamental requirement of your product to justify its use. If it’s simply a cool twist on an existing concept, the non-decentralized version is always going to be better as it does not have to deal with the same constraints.

  • How I Make Amazon’s Highest-Stakes Decisions (2020) by Jeff Bezos. In this piece, Bezos talks about his high-level decision-making framework that helps his companies to move fast while still mitigating risks. This is applicable to business and engineering (and indeed general life) decisions.

    When there’s a decision that needs to be made, you need to ask, “Is it a one-way door or a two-way door?” If it’s a two-way door, make the decision with a small team or even one high-judgment individual. Make the decision. If it’s wrong, it’s wrong. You’ll change it. But if it’s a one-way door, analyze it five different ways. Be careful, because that is where slow is smooth and smooth is fast.


Submitting your recommendations

If you’d like to share an evergreen article/book which has significantly influenced your thinking or practice around software delivery, please email it through to me and I’ll add it to my backlog for sharing in future editions.

Have a great weekend!

— Paul

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