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The best team composition is an age of ranges, spanning 20 years- eg: early twenties to late 40s. (I wouldn't turn down an engineer older than that though, of course). And ranges of experiences. You need diversity to refine the ideas before committing them to code. Often the younger guys are faster at producing features, but produce lower quality code while the older guys understand architecture but aren't as fast at executing it. Both is a good combo.

I think a lot of the startup failures of really early stage startups might be due to the entire team being exactly the same age and right out of college. So they make mistakes that have been made many times before. Put another way there are many mistakes that can kill you and the more experience you have on your team the better you are at identifying them-- but you have to have innovation and new ideas too.

Which is not to say that any of these sets of characteristics are exclusive to a specific age -- this is just generalizations.




> while the older guys understand architecture but aren't as fast at executing it

It's the older women who rock both architecture and quick execution. :) ("I'm sorry, but you opened the door, counselor")

Age does not immediately confer advantages or disadvantages - we just often use it as a proxy for "experienced", "more methodical", "slower", "inflexible", "good mentor". (Your pick here)

All of those are independent of age. Please don't compose a team by age. (Speaking as an older person. I bring a lot of things to the table, but my birthdate isn't one of them)


You can't have 30 years of experience when you're 20 years old. You're unlikely to have 15 years experience when you're 20 years old, and you're certainly going to have a different perspective when you're more years into programming, which has good and bad aspects.

Like I said, you want diversity of ages. I'm in my late 40s, I work with 20 year olds and 30 year olds and a guy whose even a fair bit older than me.

Hire the best people first, then make your team diverse, both across thinking and across ages and across everything else.

But there's a synergy I've noticed more than once when pairing a 40ish with a 20ish. OR even a 20ish, 30ish and 40ish three person team.

I'm obviously not (and it should be clear in the above message) calling for quotas, but it's a good goal.

Homogenity reduces ingenuity.


You can't have 30 years of experience in your job when your job didn't exist 30 years ago.

You can't have 15 years of experience in [whatever thing] when [whatever thing] didn't exist 15 years ago.

Note: 15 years ago = 56k internet, paying by the hour, for the 0.xyz% of select few people on the planet


Except it probably did. 15 years ago I'd been working mostly online for nearly 10 years. Sure the world was a different place when newsgroups were uucp over a (very expensive) 64k leased line and before the web, but still surprisingly recognisable.

Some of the details have changed, the languages, the size of the databases, the devices involved, and a million frameworks for front end have come and gone.

Some of the time 20 years experience feels like 4 years experience repeated 5 times with different buzzwords. The same screw ups, the same lack of understanding from missing the same point, the same management wish to do SEO and security later. Or to budget 2 weeks for bug fixing.

Now you know 5-10 languages all with good and bad points so tune out most of the zealotry of the latest fashion to try and get to real distinguishing points.

All that experience can help a lot. It's far from dead. We can even have the same emacs vs vim argument that happened in 1990.


I think this attitude is the crux of the ageism problem: "Your experience is irrelevant because this shiny new technology didn't exist 20 years ago"


I never said that the experience is irrelevant.

To quote the other comment: "20 years experience feels like 4 years experience repeated 5 times with different buzzwords".

There are two things which come to mind and that I'd like to point out.

- Each 4 year cycle is bringing less and less experience. The guy who is starting now is going to work for at least 45 years. We could say that it will be a tremendous amount of experience, but it's more likely than he will not be able to sell > 30 years of experience. [it's challenging and not specific to tech work]

- There exist no people with > 30 years of experience. That's not to negate the handful of these guys in the SV and a couple of research centers across the world. Relatively speaking, the amount of people with 30 years of experience is roundable to zero.

- Corollary: It's difficult to know what it's like to have 30 years of experience in the current market.

- Final word: Shiny technologies are only affecting the 20 years old bro coders in the 70 hours web startups. The bunch of the jobs are still in old school industries like medical/aerospace/finance/government/contracting who stick to old school tech and never upgrade.




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