I’ve seen various posts from a diaspora of “entrepreneurs” that have resulted in nothing more than a cacophony of conflicting advice. Some of that advice was (in my opinion) bad. What better way to fix this than add my own! I started by first business OmniTI in 1997 and then proceeded to found three other companies: Fontdeck, MessageSystems, and Circonus. I’ve been around a bit and understand the stresses of growing a company from nothing (no funding) as well as from taking rounds of financing and leveraging debt.
Let’s start off with some basics: I understand open source licensing very well. I write a lot of code and have released code under myriad licenses. I understand the value of licensing software. I respect the authorship of code. I fucking hate talking about licensing and arguing over violations. Recently, I was harassed over GPLv2 licensing issues. It went entirely wrong, but it had a profoundly good impact on the project.
Business is king. Customers rule. Service is everything. Yet every organization I go into has an engineering group that can’t see outside their bubble. Perhaps they can, but they certainly choose not to. I’m an engineer, I write code. I’ve written approaching 100k lines of C code in my life time, I’ve administered tens of thousands of systems in my career and I’ve help plan some of the largest customer-facing infrastructure ever built.
I’ve built a few successful products and looking back on their success, I think that the mantra that drove product development is what separated our products from the rest of the market: “products built from pain.” All of the products we’ve built were done so to relieve acute pain. Not pain we researched; pain we experienced. We built products and changed the world of software because our lives sucked. Photograph by AlexRK I’ve read a lot of books lately on new ways of running organizations and different methods of motivating people and many of them focus on studies around jobs that require a tremendous amount of creativity or “thought workers.
Peaches and pecans on vanilla ice cream is a wonderful thing, but get some perspective on how you came to enjoy it. I have heard (and have told others), “life is too short to do something you don’t enjoy,” but the truth is there is no way to revel in everything you do at every moment; not even the most ambitious and determined hedonist can achieve this. While I don’t think he was right about everything, I feel confident Sigmund Freud nailed this one: “We are so made, that we can only derive intense enjoyment from a contrast and only very little from a state of things.