Murali Krishnan, my manager at the time, got this right. I was often on the other side of the table, arguing for engineering excellence. I wasn’t yet wise enough to understand his side of the story. It was only later that I understood that startups are optimizing for a different variable.
As a budding engineer that wants to hone these areas of excellence, it can be a very hard pill to swallow, to intentionally set aside engineering best practices. Do your best to understand that you’re not optimizing for the long run. Not yet.
Don’t just take my word for it, though. An essay of Paul Graham’s inspired this post. An entirely worthwhile read.