Learnings from 5 years of tech startup code audits  ↦

Ken Kantzer was part of ~20 code audits of companies that had just raised their A or B rounds of funding:

It was fascinating work – we dove deep on a great cross-section of stacks and architectures, across a wide variety of domains. We found all sorts of security issues, ranging from catastrophic to just plain interesting. And we also had a chance to chat with senior engineering leadership and CTOs more generally about the engineering and product challenges they were facing as they were just starting to scale.

In this post he shares some of the more surprising things he’s learned from the experience. There’s a lot to digest in this post, but I’ll highlight my favorite to whet your whistle:

Simple Outperformed Smart. As a self-admitted elitist, it pains me to say this, but it’s true: the startups we audited that are now doing the best usually had an almost brazenly ‘Keep It Simple’ approach to engineering. Cleverness for cleverness sake was abhorred. On the flip side, the companies where we were like ”woah, these folks are smart as hell” for the most part kind of faded.


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