Drinking in the last saloon - working life, technology startups and the cliff

Most can be forgiven for thinking that this recent covid-19 outbreak has caused the depression we are to see. 

As a software developer consulting in Business Intelligence, Application development and data - the market has gone through a series of dips. This post covers some major reasons why we need to rethink working in the software industry.

The cliff

Imagine being in a crowd of people walking forwards. The people at the back are expecting to reach the beach soon. There are a few clouds in the sky, but all they can think about is that it will be sunny later. The people at the front are dropping off the cliff. This is our economic reality - the economic cliff. 

The state of the UK contracting industry

Normally, we believe that right wing governments are good for small businesses, and left wing is terrible. I propose none of this matters. Taking a typical UK jobs website - jobserve, contract and permanent positions;

  • Known highs of 30k-40k during David Cameron's time. 
  • Post Brexit vote 18k.
  • IR35 (tax changes making it harder to be self employed) 12k.
  • Covid-19, 2.5k (many of these jobs are duplicated). 

Note, the uk temporarily reversed its decision on IR35 but the confusion this caused clients was untold.

All of the above was during a Conservative government. 

Why would government destroy the UK technology industry?

It is outside the scope of this post. We can claim the government;

  • Wants to support the big consultancy.
  • Is trying to increase tax revenues (doesn't necessarily result in a stronger economy, velocity of money is a big predictor). 
  • Was incompetent.
  • Can't understand consequences.

My reason is, government cannot help interfering in industries. In the case of Covid-19, on other posts, I propose government shut down the economy because they had to have a reason to print more money. This may sound crazy but if you open your eyes and look at this attached Deutsche Bank chart on money supply increases, see it as instead of money printing due to an event and instead see it as the event being the proxy for money printing. The dog always wags the tail in finance. 

Why does any of this matter to me, I am a software engineer? 

It matters because the world we are about to live in will change fundamentally, economically this is a disaster. We have seen wilful destruction of our economy by governments. Never before has so much debt been in the hands of so many weak hands. 

It's global. 

Now, will the economy start up again for everyone? It is possible, the collusion of Central banks to coordinate printing more money (stimulus packages, bailouts, helicopter money) will create the illusion of a recovery but this will do nothing for the common individual. We have seen the biggest wealth transfer during covid-19, bigger business monopolies being reinforced whilst smaller businesses close forever.

A story about my startup

I have been working on my startup for around 18 months now. I put an advert online recently for a CCO and CTO/Developers. The conversations with CCOs were fruitful. The CCOs look at my technology background and realise that approx 2 years of senior development input) is nothing to be sniffed at. The developers have been nothing short of nutcases - it pains me to say as I am a developer. Their reaction has stunned me.

How I perceive developers

  • Above average intelligence. 
  • Commercially astute. 
  • Flexible and open minded. 
  • A passion for creating products and services customers want. 
  • Financially aware, especially given how Bitcoin has revolutionised how we think about money. 
  • Nuts and bolts. 
  • Big picture.

Now, we could argue this is how I perceive myself, and there are all kinds of people who have different skills but to my mind, software is about products somebody pays for. It can be open source but even where money isn't involved, value is.

Recent interviews with CTO/Developers

I wasn't offering a salary. I saw it that equity was a potential offering, potential future profits, payment for development. Alternatively, the cto would help me work on the technology to get the PRODUCT just past MVP and to investment stage. It was more about understanding the potential and working out a way forwards than getting too hung up on detail.

If I was a developer, I knew that a lot of time had been put into creating a product and I simply had to come in and help out for an initial couple of months, could be part time, I would jump at the chance. Especially as the sector has so much upside potential.

Every developer wanted paying (this is highly understandable). It could be they are unemployed, or that they feel there is opportunity cost. Here is the rub, this world we are about to enter will not be the same get a job here, contract there. Irrespective of what we think we know about the future, the scale of mismanagement of our fiat money system means we are on a cliff.

Another angle I presented to each developer was that a number of spinoff products had been developed through my limited company. Whilst not shippable, if they felt some of these products was an area they wished to engage in, we can consider that. Again, nothing. Despite there being a clear market, perhaps 1-2 months effort by developers could make proper profits.

The strawman developer

One of the other incredible things I noticed was this. Whenever I took a developer through the product and technology conceptually - they all found a point of weakness and attacked it. This seems to be their way to undermine the solution and perhaps offer themselves as the solutions provider - except there wasn't anything coming back in terms of solutions.

A very quick example was I explained there were only unit tests where deemed essential or to help clarify understanding units, that for a data solution like this - integration testing was preferable. This was music to their ears. It gave ample opportunity to destroy the product but when we discussed unit testing, mocking, stubbing, test attributes, integration testing it seemed clear they weren't as strong as they made out. If I asked a question about sql or what a type two dimension was they didn't get it. Remember, the coder who doesn't understand an sql merge statement will write A LOT of code instead.

The point is we all live in glass houses and so should be careful when we throw stones. One person completely attacked the look and feel of the website missing the point that for all the usability experts and designers, we will all pay our taxes on a crappy government website if we have to. Even dev.to, I used Stacked io markup editor in preference to dev.to. Do I go on about it?

A sad moment to reflect

Are all developers like this? No, though it seems too many think only in terms of pay and unrealistic expectations. Every engagement is a risk which takes time to understand. Potentially a bad analogy, but a relationship takes time to form.

To this end, developers have to get with the plan, they can't be the whipping boys of scrum masters and business analysts and should collaborate to create their own successes.

At a time when developers should be looking forward and considering new approaches to business and technology, they are instead doubling down on stupid behaviours which will cause many to individually fail. 

Find out more about my efforts

First of all, do a search for Info Rhino. It describes some of the solutions created and technologies I consult in. If you are a developer and feel you wish to help out or partner it would be great to hear from you. 

My property platform, findigl, saw a relaunch recently. It is not fully functional. Am working on a couple of big pieces to help automate data loading, so get in touch. 

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