‘Clarity’ is a management term that has entered my professional lexicon embarrassingly recently. At non-trivial scale, lack of clarity is a startup killer - if there is no clarity, nobody knows exactly what they’re supposed to do, so nothing gets done.

Interestingly, the segment of startup executors worst hit by lack of clarity is also the one least discussed: The computer.

Startups scale at a rate unprecedented in human history because computers scale execution at a rate unprecedented in human history.

Computers, sadly, require perfect clarity, or they can’t do anything. Computers are so bad at dealing with even the…

A get a fair number of DMs on Twitter from people seeking work advice. Some of them take enough effort to answer that I’ve decided to x-post them here and refine them.

Sidu, you must have a process to evaluate your team for yearly/half yearly appraisals. How do you set the KRA of your team member? What were the points that you see while doing the appraisals or giving bonuses? -@sahilchitkara

Goalsetting and performance review are two sides of the same coin. Having one without the other is meaningless.

Over the years I’ve realised that I’d grossly underestimated how difficult…

This post is in beta.

Your txn rate, org size, tech stack and market isn’t my txn rate, org size, tech stack and market. YMMV.

Hiring experienced software talent is extremely hard in India/SEA. This isn’t just engineering — experienced product managers, data scientists, designers and other functions are equally hard to find. Conversely, there is no shortage of folks who have all the requisite skills on paper, but cannot be depended on to deliver working software to a customer.

This is because the marketplace for software delivery talent in India/SEA does not meaningfully distinguish ‘real’ talent on the supply…

Basic segmentation is key

This post is in beta.

This post is specific to hiring for hands-on programming roles. Your txn rate, org size, tech stack and market isn’t my txn rate, org size, tech stack and market. YMMV.

Hiring enough programmers to support a rapidly growing software product business is very hard in India.

Founders and operators I talk to all report challenges across the hiring lifecycle, from atrocious conversion rates, to candidates who accept offers but don’t join, to candidates who join, but can’t code.

My thesis is that we prematurely fine-grain our segmentation and try to hire a Backend Golang Tech…

Summary and Notes

I first read this most excellent book when @rnjn recommended it on Twitter five or six years ago, and it blew my mind. I started re-reading it in preparation for my next project and decided to maintain my notes on our team wiki. I tweet some of it, but it’s not a great fit for the format, so I decided to also do a mildly sanitized public version of the doc.

HTH :)

(Since medium isn’t a great medium for study notes, I’ve used Paper instead)

There are two kinds of organisations in tech — for one, remote work is a strategy and a competitive advantage. For the other, remote work is constraint that is a competitive disadvantage.

Both arguments will be tested in the coming months and years, but it’s interesting to speculate about second order effects on how we work.

Here are some of mine + friends (some not entirely serious).

The future of remote work is “On their phones all day playing Chinese whispers on 1–1 calls” 😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂

“Going Remote” will become a management fad and spawn a new consulting vertical.

The paradox of personal growth is that the mental models and personal biases that serve well at an early level hold you back at the next. Re-inventing one's personality repeatedly over time seems non-negotiable.

Become who you need to be to do what you want to do. Repeat.

The test for progress:

1. Does present you more consistently make what you want to happen, happen, than past you could?

2. Would past you (say ~5 yrs ago) violently disagree with present you on philosophical issues?

3. Are those differences the basis of your improved results?

Often, personal growth stalls because…

People and being “good”

The human need to be perceived as a “good person” is as much of a compulsion as a dog’s need to be perceived as a “good dog” — a concept that I first grokked when reading Terry Pratchett. I’ve always felt that dogs being bred into this need was, you know, unfair, a control mechanism.

It took me a long time to see we bred them in our image.

This need to be perceived as “good people” operates at the group level as well, with interesting side effects.

There a weird blindness here, a bias — Dale Carnegie’s “How…

Uber wants to be a superapp. What does that mean?

Recently, Uber announced it wanted to be the superapp of the west. That led to a flurry in the Twitterverse about Superapp strategies and the right way to build a Superapp. I also observed folks conflating Superapps and Platforms, or attempting to differentiate between them. So I decided to clarify how I differentiate between them. YMMV.

This post started with me responding to this tweet:

As someone who’s been closely involved in building a Superapp, I had a point of view:


A Superapp strategy utilizes market driven growth to scale the business.

A Platform strategy utilizes product…

All the weird advice I come across that weirdly makes sense.

Busy is inefficient

To go fast, go slow

If you think you are self aware, you aren’t

If you think you’re rational, you aren’t

Sidu Ponnappa

SVP Engineering, Gojek. https://twitter.com/ponnappa

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