Move Slow and Make Things

Forbes - - Technology - By Steven Bertoni

airtable’s Howie liu has qui­etly built a soft­ware gi­ant by em­pha­siz­ing sub­stance over speed. but can a tech tor­toise win the data race?

the fre­netic world of tech, where the rul­ing ethos is to move fast and break things, Howie Liu moves at a glacial pace. With An­drew Of­s­tad and Em­mett Ni­cholas, he launched Airtable in 2013. They wanted to cre­ate a spread­sheet with the power of a database. Then they spent three years build­ing a pro­to­type.

The trio pored over aca­demic pa­pers on col­lab­o­ra­tive soft­ware the­ory, ag­o­nized about the Node.js ar­chi­tec­ture and ob­sessed over the speed at which win­dows popped open. Af­ter read­ing Kenya Hara’s de­sign book White, Liu spent months fo­cus­ing on the in­ter­play of color and empty space.

Liu, 30, is sit­ting in his San Fran­cisco head­quar­ters dressed in a black leather jacket and` black shirt, slacks and shoes. It’s a min­i­mal­ist uni­form à la Steve Jobs, the guy who would fuss for-

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