Startup: a hypothetical scenario

Picture yourself in the following situation. You’ve come up with what you think is a cool idea for a so-called web 2.0 site. Furthermore, you’ve managed to convince some VC types to invest some (pre-)seed funding – enough to develop a public beta. You developed a quick and dirty proof-of-concept to show the VCs, but now it has to be thrown away. You have to start development on the real thing from scratch.

The question is, what technologies, programming languages, tools and platforms are you going to use to implement your idea? Language-wise, do you go for Python, Java, PHP, Ruby, or something else? If you take the PHP route, how do you ensure maintainability in the long term? If decide on Java, do you use JSP, Velocity or Freemarker? Would you use Struts or Spring? Do you need any of these frameworks at all? Do you run on Linux, Free BSD, Windows or Mac OS X Server? Why?

To make this question at least partly answerable, imagine for the moment we’re just considering the presentation tier, and not any of the back end magic. Also imagine that what you’re developing is similar to one of today’s social networking sites (Facebook, Bebo, MySpace or something), and that visualisations (e.g., of directed graphs) might need to be generated dynamically from data in the back end. You can assume that the beta version will have a small number of types of dynamically generated pages (less than 10, say) but later versions will end up with many more.

Answers along the lines of “It’s much of a muchness, so I would choose X, Y and Z because they’re what I know”, “I’d choose X, Y and Z because the newly graduated computer science students I’d have to hire are most likely to be comfortable with those” and “X, Y and Z are nice but too expensive for my startup, so I’d choose A, B and C instead” are completely acceptable.

I’ve already got some great input from my closest friends (at least the programmers among them), but I’d like to get some responses from a wider audience. I’m hoping some ex-DSTC engineers/researchers might have an opinion on this; you don’t need to have worked at a startup to give useful feedback!

I’m asking this question out of pure curiosity, nothing more, and I have my own feelings on this (represented by the sample answers above). Please leave your answer as a comment below.