Winners never quit and quitters never win.
M.G., I really enjoy reading your articles but I disagree with you immensely and passionately on this topic.
First, being featured is a rare event. It happens to almost nobody. It is the modern day equivalent of winning the jackpot for a startup. This may seem more common to you because of your position at Google Ventures and your involvement in well funded and exciting early stage startups, but for the average startup, a feature in the app store simply never happens.
Second, your points about badly tested products performing badly is valid, but I think you too quickly discount beta testing. A good beta testing program with a combination of free users, paid users and a few dollars spent with a QA service are worthwhile and can in fact catch most key problems.
Third, yes there are casualties of featuring, but there are also plenty of examples of well built apps that got temporarily featured and because of the featuring and a good product gained a valuable userbase and a permanent featuring in a category.
Like other commenters have pointed out, once you turn down the opportunity to be featured, you likely never get it again. This lightning/jackpot opportunity does not strike twice.
So yes, your advice is valid if you have a half baked, poorly tested app and you have 10 million dollars available as a backstop to buy users once you perfect the product.
Most startups are broke, most apps will never be downloaded, so get users by any means possible any time they are available. The solution isn’t to avoid mass distribution, the solution is to drink more coffee and fix the product as fast as you possibly can.