Everybody is a programmer

The better I get at programming the more I feel the so-called “tech bubble” has nothing to do with investment dollars and everything to do with developer’s salaries.

If and when the bubble bursts it will be because 22 year old “engineers” building simple CRUD applications are charging a lot more than they deserve.

In life we have many problems. From bad grades to failed relationships, money issues and [sometimes] software needs. For each of these problems we prescribe a fix. Want an A on the test? Study more and go to office hours. Want to win favor from a spouse? Apologize and be nicer to them.

It’s no different in programming. Need a unique identifier for a purchase confirmation? Wire up a UUID library and you’re all set.

The fact is, programming is a language like any other. Some languages are for people, others are for computers. So why do software developers make 3x more money than Korean translators? Is Javascript really more difficult than Greek?

For some reason we treat programming like a black box that only a chosen few can access. This is not only demoralizing, it’s completely false.

Business teams at tech companies are under pressure because it’s believed they don’t have as much “leverage” as their developer counterparts. That a sales guy might create, say, $200,000 in profit if he’s a high performer while his developer peer creates $2 million in profit building the apps he sells.

But here’s the truth. I’ve worked with 30+ venture-backed startups and I’ve never witnessed developers leading product management or sales strategy. Most developers I’ve worked with write stuff like “such sales talk goez here” on their home page. Most developers would rather rebuild their app in another framework or dream up features than fix critical bugs that are making customers leave. Most developers like to argue about HTML vs HAML when all the marketing guy wants is a landing page. It’s out of control.

At the risk of losing my startup club membership: most developers are sheep. They need to be led behind the barn and shed for all they’re worth. Their intrinsic value is little because they’re raw materials not yet processed.

While programmers use “code” to turn solutions into software, business people use “direction” to turn developers into profit centers.

We are all programmers really. We just use different languages to get the job done.

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