Thanks for the compliment. I'm lucky to have an incredible team around me. But it's more than that - it's in part how we approach the task at hand.
In 17 years I've worked with 3 brilliant engineers. The first one was my uncle, David James, who was incredibly gifted mathematician. I spent 4 years with him, until he died in 1996. It was then I met Kevin who I've worked with ever since. Along the way I worked with one other person - Dr. Bill Worley, the former Chief Scientist of HP.
David and I worked on very complex data compression algorithms - Kevin and I worked on HTTP communications and Bill and I worked on a secure OS. Of the three I've worked with Kevin the longest. Of the three both Bill and David James where scientifically brilliant. Two incredible minds - and I took huge risks with both of them. One died - one built a secure operating system (see this independent review
Both taught me to stretch my mind to places I would never normally go. Which brings me to Kevin - Kevin is in a class of his own - and he differs from the other two in a unique way - practicality. The two big problems we've worked on together - making the internet go faster (mod_gzip) and making the Internet contextually aware (mod_mobile) have both been his ideas. They are both rooted in solving real problems that affect millions of people.
We never set out to do something "Cool"... we set out to solve real problems for real people. We also don't want to ask people to change their behaviors.
Bill and David were different - David was so far out there it did defy reality. But I got to travel to places (math wise) that were just incredible. Bill solved the problem of building an un-hackable operating system. It's what the world needs - whether they will adopt it or not who knows. It requires a behavior change. But it was worth doing.
Kevin builds/solves problems that the world needs - and the two of us make sure the design is done in such a way that doesn't require behavior changes. Hence the practical aspect of what we do.
With regard to what we develop for or with - we don't care - that's NOT important - what is important is solving a really meaningful problem for someone. We're platform and developer tool agnostic. We focus on the horizontal not the vertical. If we do our job right then it will scale to any operating system or developer tool.
Example - Mod_Gzip - developed in C. Works on every hardware platform, every operating system and every version of all the web servers out there. (might need a few tweaks in a port). We did our job right by focusing on the problem - not by inventing something cool.
We've done the same with Mod_Mobile - it's designed to work on everything - the other client component is also designed that way. And while neither Kevin or I particularly like Java - that's NOT a consideration - the customer wants it to "simply work" and if that means that we need to write a Java client for Blackberry and RIM that works the same was as WM then that's what we do - I mean why wouldn't you?
At the end of the day too many programmers focus on what's cool - instead of focusing on solving a meaningful problem for an identifiable group of customers.
If you focus on the later then the tools will fall as they may. In fact you won't care what you use because it's all about the customer.
PS. To build all 4 of my startups to the point of showing real working prototypes has never taken more than 18 months and consumed well less than $100k of funding. The hard part is the idea and a prototype - that doesn't consume a lot of money. The next hard part is scaling the idea - that does require money, but less than everyone thinks if you have a brilliant product marketing person on board. Which as luck would have it I do. I would put Liz in a class alongside Kevin - she's the one who turns the idea into something that customer can understand. Which as they say is - priceless.