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Discussion on: Why is the software industry so competitive?

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Tim Kellogg

Healthy for what?

Both biology (evolution) and economics (capitalism) have found competition to be a phenomenal success at optimizing. Competition in software industry, in the long term, leads to the good ideas floating to the top.

The alternative to competition is people getting buried in bureaucratic decision processes. For example, using COBOL because that’s what the leaders insist on, without regard to the merits of competing technology.

So competition is great, but like literally everything in life, it also has its downsides. Competition leads to impersonal decision making processes. It hurts feelings, it throws people under the bus.

Does that mean competition is bad? I don’t think so, but I do think competition has to come with a set of checks and balances. Like how unchecked capitalism can lead to corruption or slavery, unchecked competition in software engineering can cause important contributors to want to quit and exit the industry.

It’s a balance.