Home Picking the Right Programming Language for Your Startup

Picking the Right Programming Language for Your Startup

In the game of baseball, pitchers and batters are continually making adjustments to improve their chances against each other. If a batter stikes out, he can learn from the pitches he saw and have a better chance of connecting in his next appearance at the plate. The same is true for entrepreneurs in the startup game.

Second generation entrepreneurs (or any employee of a startup, for that matter) can review past decisions in hopes of hitting one out of the park with their next startup. Adam D’Angelo is a former employee of Facebook where he learned valuable lessons – like choosing the right programming language – that helped him launch his very own startup, the Q&A service Quora.

Responding to a question asking why Quora chose Python for its development, D’Angelo – the site’s founder – harkened back to his days at Facebook for the root of his answer. According to D’Angelo, Quora chose Python for many technical reasons, but also because of the trouble he faced when using PHP at Facebook.

“PHP was out of the question. Facebook is stuck on that for legacy reasons, not because it’s the best choice right now,” says D’Angelo, referencing a separate Quora thread on the “crawling horrors” of PHP use. “Our main takeaway from that experience is that programming language choice is very important and is extremely costly to change.”

One of other important reasons that Quora chose Python, he says, is the desire to be built on open-source software stacks. Another language that was “promising” for Quora was C#, but it was built by Microsoft as part of .NET and the stability of open-source tools for it are uncertain, says D’Angelo. While choosing the right language is certainly a case-by-case decision for individual startups, D’Angelo feels Python was the perfect choice for Quora.

“Our main takeaway from that experience is that programming language choice is very important and is extremely costly to change.”
– Adam D’Angelo

“So far, we’ve been pretty happy with the choice,” he says. “There’s a small selection bias, but all of the employees who’d been working with other languages in the past have been happy to transition to Python, especially those coming from PHP.”

The programming language your startup chooses will serve as your site’s skeletal structure into the future, and relaunching on a new framework is not ideal. Each language has its own benefits over the others for completing different tasks, and for Quora, Python was the best choice, it seems.

Another lesson to take from their experience is to not fear learning a new language for a new project. New tools make it easier for developers to transition between languages, so don’t get stuck choosing a language simply based on your familiarity with it. Languages should be chosen for their ability to meet your startup’s needs, not for how well your developers know them.

About ReadWrite’s Editorial Process

The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

Get the biggest tech headlines of the day delivered to your inbox

    By signing up, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy. Unsubscribe anytime.

    Tech News

    Explore the latest in tech with our Tech News. We cut through the noise for concise, relevant updates, keeping you informed about the rapidly evolving tech landscape with curated content that separates signal from noise.

    In-Depth Tech Stories

    Explore tech impact in In-Depth Stories. Narrative data journalism offers comprehensive analyses, revealing stories behind data. Understand industry trends for a deeper perspective on tech's intricate relationships with society.

    Expert Reviews

    Empower decisions with Expert Reviews, merging industry expertise and insightful analysis. Delve into tech intricacies, get the best deals, and stay ahead with our trustworthy guide to navigating the ever-changing tech market.