(Prolog + LISP + Erlang) with integration issues versus C++
Joe Armstrong (AL/EAB)
Mon Sep 5 11:10:58 CEST 2005
> Dev Functional wrote
> Sent: den 4 september 2005 11:35
> Subject: Re: (Prolog + LISP + Erlang) with integration issues
> versus C++
> Hello all
> I would sincerely like to thank all of the people who
> responsded to my mail.
> Here are the details of the discussion and decisions made.
11 arguments -[cut]
Argument  claimed falsely that:
"Ericsson does not use Erlang for product development"
Yes is does - that's what I'm doing *today* that's what my colleagues are
doing - hacking away IN ERLANG - MAKING NEW PRODUCTS. (Sorry for shouting)
Argument  was very strange
Something about capitalists not grabbing up the new ideas.
Yes they are.
"Been there - done that" - I have *never* met a venture capitalist who asked
or cared about the programming technology - never EVER (shouting again)
Venture capitalists brains seem to work like this:
- Can I make money?
- Can this person to whom I am giving money deliver the goods?
- What is my exit strategy=? (ie how can I take the money and run if things go
I once asked our first VC why he invested in us - I said - "You must be totally mad - giving us a load of money when you haven't the faintest idea what we'll do
with it" - he said - "I'm not investing in you, I'm investing in a sector - we buy
into ten or twenty companies - some will succeed others fail."
VC's don't care about (or understand) the technology - they invest in people
and in business ideas.
The other arguments are not worth refuting.
Now I want to make some meta-comments.
1) What has happened to you is very common. The pattern like this:
a) You prototype something in some new fun language
b) The prototype is great
c) A committee decides to investigate which technology to use
d) you win all the arguments in committee
e) You committee decides to use C++/Java and produces
a spurious set of arguments to support their decision
f) You get pissed off, so you either accept the decision
(and still feel pissed-off) or
g) go do something else
Now I can't actually remember how many times this has happened to me
(about 5 - 10 times) - after many years of experience I'd say "if you see the pattern coming" just hop to g) immediately.
2) You can't win an argument.
I suggest you (and everybody) read Dale Carnegies "How to win friends and influence people"
To paraphrase his argument "Let's suppose you *totally* win an argument -
you out argue your opponent on every point - you win" - but the problem is that you
don't win in the long term "winning the argument" in this sense leaves a sour taste in the mouth - the opponent bears grudges against you, possibly dislikes you, works against you in the future ...
Carnegies message is "you can't win an argument"
3) People have to decide for themselves that they want to use your technology
It is *extraordinarily* difficult to sell a new technology - here are a couple of mechanisms:
a) - wait for failure, then step in
b) - work alongside and set a good example and hope it "infects" the other side
a) works very well - BUT is outside your control
b) is *very* difficult - mainly because what you perceive as "a better technology and commercial advantage" - is perceived as "a career threat and a criticism of our ways of working" (or course it *is* a criticism - but not one which should be taken personally)
Dale Carnegie say to have to raise in the other person a genuine desire to
use your ideas/product/technology.
He also says "If you do something good don't tell anybody about it" - this is
*very* difficult (or course you want to tell everbody about your fantastic new gizmo -
BUT what you thought to be great can be interpreted as critism and actually
prevents what you want to happen).
4) Darwinism and feedback
This is (I hope) the positive story.
What happened to the Venture Capitalists who made money from the "first wave"
of Erlang apps - did they go away?
No - these capitalists made money from our technology - they made more money
than we made - and they are first-in-line to invest in our new ideas (this is the feedback cycle). They do invest and they have carried on investing. Money is not automatic, so they want to see a good business idea - but they know that the technology works and trust has been
These capitalists should make more money than the rest - Darwinism.
5) What then is the desired position?
IMHO Erlang should ben positioned to
- avoid starvation
- not be main-stream
ie We have sufficient users to avoid the situation that there are so few users
that nobody cares and the technology withers and dies, and we are not main-stream.
Why the "not main stream" - because then we *loose* our commercial advantage.
If everybody starts using Erlang then all the small companies using Erlang
(my friends) loose their commercial advantage.
Right now the market is small enough that we encourage new companies to
use Erlang - that's because they are not competing with each other - this is
to help "avoid starvation".
Interestingly - I know of a small number of companies using Erlang who
absolutely do not wish it to be known that they are using Erlang - since it gives them
a commercial advantage that they do not wish their competitors to know about.
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