Why 80 Percent of Web Projects Are Total Bullshit: A Freelancer’s Rant

Every time I tell a suit about an idea of mine and they ask “what’s your exit?” the answer is “death,” because my goal is to make software that is useful and makes users happy and that’s all I need. These same people openly discuss ways to turn users into food for advertisers, or of their aspirations to abandon those that helped them to succeed as soon as they reach the apex and their heads hit the clouds. Or they have that “fake it till you make it” attitude, that it doesn’t matter how it’s built because by the time it matters you’ll be swimming in investor money and can hire “real” engineers, as if nerds were some kind of fungible currency, that your founding engineers are something to toy with, that you will knowingly look someone in the face and smile and think “you’re not good enough but you’re cheap, and when I can afford someone better I’ll fire or demote you.”

I’m a member of the Startup Weekend LinkedIn group, for better or worse, home to some of the most asinine conversations about startup dumbfuckery on the internet. A user posted a question:

What languages should a non-technical founder learn after HTML and CSS ? JavaScript and? The goal: to be able to make basic prototypes of mobile applications.

to which one guy replies:

none. you are a founder, not a programmer, non-technical, none. Learn how to hire and manage great people.

and later continues:

Every successful entrepreneur surrounds themselves with advisors, friends, comrades, etc that help them with these decisions.

Not just code, (coders think businesses are just code) but marketing, financial, HR, lots of problems that arise everyday. Great founders are generalists and know just enough to know when to seek advice, and can spot BS from a mile away.

Founders need to know how to manage people, implement idas, create value for human beings, code can be written by employees or contractors.

How to hire great people:

So … what’s his qualification? He runs stickergiant.com, a site that sells stickers. Wow. Now that’s a big fuckin’ deal. For every businessperson worth talking to and worth working with, there are ten dreamless hacks just like this guy.

I’m not suggesting that a non-technical founder write code, that everyone needs to write code, but I don’t have any respect for anyone that won’t learn a thing or two about one of the most critical roles in his business.

Now, that’s not to say all business people are necessarily douchey. A friend introduced me to the guys at Prehype, which spins startups out of big companies, and even though neither of them can write a line of code, I LOVE hanging out at their office and talking to them because they get it. They’re not hackers, but they understand that programming is a craft; that programmers are artisans, not serfs.

I think the reason I could never be a writer is that I’m just way, way too mean. If there’s anything I’d want to read an article about, it’s “why 80 percent of web projects are total bullshit,” but there’s no way I’d ever put my name on such a whiny, Napoleonic tirade.

Alright. That was fun. Thanks for the therapy. I should probably do some actual work now.