The Standard Trajectory Of Manufacturers From Upstarts To Antiquated

Companies in this space tend to follow a standard trajectory:

1) An upstart company, with a core group of competent engineers and salespeople with industry experience, develops a product.

2) Product sees success in a key niche.

3) Rapid growth clutters the product, technical debt inserted.

4) Company is acquired by a larger player, customer base increases further, making it much harder to fix the product's warts.

5) Founders and original engineers leave, replacements are never quite as knowledgable nor passionate about the product, making significant changes damn near impossible.

A lot of currently successful products in this business were principally developed in the mid-1990s. The original engineers are now retired or deceased, and current teams largely are in maintenance mode. Occasionally a push is made to overhaul the product, with a junior team with no industry experience, or with resources overseas, but high turnover dooms the effort.

Ultimately, the company acquires a another upstart company, migrates the installed base, and the process repeats.

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