Original question from Quora:

Why do so many startups use Python as a programming language?

I have used the language to write small scripts and such, and it has done that job wonderfully, but once I begin to think about using it in production I get a mental block. It seems to be a poor fit for anything web development related, potentially slow, and Django is quite strange.

Is this just Google hype or some other thing?

My Answer:

Python is a nice language and there are many good reasons to use it in a startup. But there is one reason in particular that makes it popular…

Have you ever fallen in love? Wait, that could turn into a weird analogy.

Have you ever played a video game that you enjoy with your friends? Let’s say it’s League of Legends or Call of Duty or Madden. I don’t care. Let’s say it’s Halo.

I’ve been playing Halo since the original Xbox launched. I was there on day one. Halo is a great game, one of the best ever. I can still sit down and play through the entire campaign or play the multiplayer and enjoy it a lot.

Now, imagine I have some friends over to play a game. I am very likely to bring up Halo because it’s so much fun.

It comes down to comfort and familiarity. When you are comfortable with a game, it can be more fun than struggling to learn a new game. If you’ve ever picked up a game with a strange control scheme or totally new mechanics, it is frustrating until you “figure it out”.

What does this have to do with programming languages? Everything.

When you create a company, you don’t do it in a vacuum. You have biases and experiences to guide you.

Thus, the programming language or platform for a startup has nothing to do with what language is best for the problem. It has everything to do with what the founders like and why they like it.

Usually, a technical founder has a favorite language and they’ll use that to build the prototype with. Then, it’s a matter of continuing to build and evolve the software until “that’s just the way it’s always been” at the company.

To further entrench said technology, experts in that language will be hired to continue to build the software using that technology.

So whether you are talking about Python, Ruby, PHP, Java, C#, Clojure, Javascript, or anything else…

It comes down to what the founder’s favorite language is. A lot of people like Python, so they use Python.

It’s not really any deeper than that. It’s that simple.

-Brian

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