Developer Entitlement

Posted in Engineering, Hiring

I guess it was inevitable that software developers let the current talent crunch get into their heads. Recruiters continue to spam anyone who can slap two lines of code together, so developers are feeling pretty good about job prospects; we puff out our chests a bit more, point at the other offers available, and ask for more money.

Of course, it’s a golden age for software because of the absurdly low cost of starting a software shop, and that’s been possible primarily because of the convergence of systems – mobile devices, servers, and browsers. With the plummeting price of both the hardware required but also the expertise necessary to build apps, websites, even psuedo operating systems, software guys have been able to build upon the shoulders of digital colossi.

Though, sometimes we forget that, and whine about the great injustice of not being paid enough for building the bits and bytes that are driving the software boom.

As a software developer who works for one of these companies enabled by the revolution in mobile hardware and software, I give a ton of credit to the enablers: not just Apple, but also open software projects like Apache and browser makers and the Rails community and the rest of the software and hardware that make my job possible. Obviously a lot of these achievements are technical in nature, but I also consider all the frontiers paved in partnerships, standards, community, and consensus as being crucial factors in getting us here, where some guy can quit his job, spend a few months coding and be well-off selling his wares at a few bucks a piece.

Though these accomplishments may seem a bit shallow, the last time software was a big deal, companies took in a lot more money and raised more via dubious public offerings to end up doing less than what startups are trying to build now[1]. App developers have been building programs for a long time, and the amount of attention and the breadth of the userbase has never been higher. Even though the spotlight has been on the apps and app developers, the stack – across technical barriers and industry maturity – should be rightfully recognized and rewarded for attracting users onto robust, stable platforms.

Footnotes    (↑ returns to text)

  1. Although it can be argued that a lot of that money didn’t necessarily go towards building a great product.