Friday, September 23, 2011

The Sky is Falling

An old satellite is falling to Earth today. The boys didn't understand why a satellite would fall (since satellites just use gravity to circle the Earth). I don't know either. Maybe satellites use their own power to make small corrections and stay in the correct orbit and this one can't do that anymore. Maybe the orbit deteriorates gradually over the years until the satellite falls... But what I am really wondering about is whether the scientists who first launched the satellite carefully planned for it to fall into the Earth in 20+ years, or didn't worry too much about what would happen in such a distant future.

I mentioned to the boys that I wouldn't be surprised if it was the later, as we rarely do much planning for the very long term. Maybe they thought something like "Heck, in 20+ years we'll have super rocket robots that will pick up old satellites...".

When I did my second start-up my CTO suggested that we use Oracle as our database (N asked what a database was so I explained). Knowing that the licensing cost would be over $100K per year I pushed back. But then my CTO came back with a "great" deal from Oracle: The software would be free the first year, cost 10% the second, 20% the third, and full price afterwards. My reaction? In 3+ years the company will either have been sold, gone public, or gone under, so lets do it. Guess what? The 3 years came and went and the company was still a medium sized private company for which $100k+/year in licensing fees was a lot. Ooopppss.

1 comment:

Matt Hurewitz said...

It's as true in startups as it is everywhere else, "Start with the end in mind". You have to make decisions with constrained resources, while planning for the unlikely, but best case.