Role of management
Scoble recently published some interesting insights on the health of MySpace and the primary causes behind its decline. Top of that list: betting on the Microsoft stack and being based in LA. I won't comment much on the Microsoft side of things other than to say that there are plenty of high volume, high complexity sites -- Bing, MSN, Hotmail, Windows Live, and Xbox Live -- which are all doing just fine. Even with little knowledge of the specific situation to make any meaningful assessment, I suspect there is more to it.
Meanwhile, Todd Hoff, over at the excellent High Scalability blog, had an good summary of the subsequent discussion. There were a few themes that jumped out to me:
- Don't outsource are (or should be!) your core competencies. You're left with nothing.
- Access to talent (geography and willingness to work for you) is critical. People are what make things happen in this industry.
- Technical debt will kill you. Developers respond to incentives so if hygiene isn't a priority it'll never get addressed. And it gets harder and harder the longer it goes untreated.
- Technical management is vital. If leadership doesn't understand the downside and technical implications of their decisions, big problems lie ahead.
Interestingly, few of these mistakes can be attributed to poor coding, platform or architecture decisions, they're much further upstream than that.