It was just over a year ago that Rod, Dwayne and I joined Yousendit after they acquired our startup Attassa. After much thought, I’ve decided it’s time to move on. There’s a lot of amazing people at Yousendit who’ve made me feel completely at home. For that, I leave with nothing but respect and thanks to the people I’ve worked with. In addition to leaving some truly great people, the hardest part is leaving a green card process. The thought of trading permanent residency for the world of H1B’s, B1’s, E-2’s and ultimately the whims of USCIS is a little sad. The US needs to take a serious look at immigration policy. I dream that in 10 years, people look back at this time and view it as archaic and asinine.
Paul Graham would say that true “hacking” is not science, it’s not math, but rather, it’s art. It’s creating things. A hackers tools are a compiler and an IDE rather than a canvas and a paint brush. Call it what you will (I like the artist analogy since it makes me look way cooler, hipper, and trendier than I really am), but whatever it is, I love it. I also believe that if you define hacking as “seeing a vision and implementing it”, it becomes something very hard to experience outside of starting up.
In larger organizations, it’s necessary to avoid disaster. Only a very small number of programmers can actually envision and then design software; and it’s super hard to find these people. So … organizations gravitate towards designing by group thought, mostly lead by PM. In this world, developers implement the design and vision. And this works since for larger organizations to win, they just need to suck less than other big companies. You could argue that strategically this is the way it should be. You’d be foolish to pin the corporate strategy on the design and vision of a few hackers. But for startups, the corporate strategy IS the design of a few hackers. That’s your only choice. Companies like Google used to get away with a hybrid by encouraging hack days, 20% time, and innovating from within. Their revenue / employee afforded the luxury to innovate from within while still producing the bottom line. That’s rare.
Most hackers can’t “hack” for a living; much like musicians can’t play music for a living; they mostly hold down day jobs at bigCo to afford their true passion to build what they want on evenings and weekends. But I’m in the fortunate position to step back and hack full time again. For all I know, I may be implementing someones vision in 4 months, and I’d be ok with that. It annoys me to no end hearing engineers complain about working for bigCo and their lack of ability to engage their creative minds. What a first world problem. But for the time being I can’t wait to get started …