Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Creating Value, Entrepreneurship, Ideas, Software

by Asim Jalis

Here is a thought: It's not that important to get immediate payoff. As long as you create value for someone eventually you get a payoff at the end. For example, if I have a neat strategy for testing I should share it, even though there is no money in sharing, because by sharing I create value for people, which in turn makes me more valuable, because now my name becomes associated with valuable things. This also explains why Kent Beck can charge a high billing rate. If instead of giving XP away for free he had sold it through a high-priced training organization, he would not have created value for as many people as he did by giving it away. However, in doing so he has made himself much more valuable. Fundamentally, we are all human, and pretty much the same, but for some reason people elevate certain people (the celebrities) to a higher plane. So Britney Spears is just another girl, but for various reasons she is higher up on the pyramid than other girls, who might be more attractive and better singers than her. Similarly, Kent Beck might be a slightly above average programmer. But by creating value for so many people he's acquired this kind of celebrity status, which he can leverage to increase his billing rate. The point is that he is no longer a generic programmer, like we are. We are programming grunts. There are limited opportunities in this world for grunts. The underlying business model here is that instead of trying to get a payoff by selling software, one gets rewarded for creating value and in this way for associating oneself with value and becoming more valuable. Another example of this might be Linus Torvalds. Linus increased his value by creating Linux, which continues to create value for people and companies around the world. I was reading this article by an open source programmer in Toronto who said that he gets telecommuting contracts through the web despite the downturn because people assume he is really good at the kind of programming he has done in his open source shared work.