Startup Tip: Build a Culture that Ships

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Steve Jobs famously quipped that “Real Artists Ship.” Trip Advisor’s Stephen Kaufer is similarly insistent on getting products in front of people. Kaufer’s motto, which is written on a piece of paper and Scotch-taped to his office door, is “speed wins.”

For the past 14 years TripAdvisor’s engineers have shipped a new version of the website every week. At one point the product team, feeling overwhelmed by the size and complexity of the codebase, petitioned to make releases bi-weekly. The request was summarily denied with a flat no. Further pleas were made and met with flat no’s. In this clip, Kaufer explains the thinking behind his weekly release cadence:

To make this system work, leaders need to work in partnership with teams. Kaufer credits the decision to his background in computer science, but are also an important reflection of his managerial sensibility. “It’s not like we’re building embedded software that’s shipping out on a chip,” he says. “If the site goes down we can revert. I don’t slap the team around if there’s a bug. That’s software.”

Photo Credit: Steve Smith.

Eric is a Managing Partner at Founder Collective.