And remember that for most technical founders, the marketing side of startups is really damn hard compared to writing code, and is absolutely the main reason why most startups fail. You really should have this stuff figured out before you write a single line of code because without it you have no chance of succeeding. Products do not sell themselves.
At the beginning, the idea is to "do things that don't scale": do things manually, go get your users one by one.
At the same time experiment with traction channels: SEO, content marketing, social media, email, PR, email marketing, outbound sales. Do small experiments and do more of what works.
Of course it's tongue in cheek, good luck.
First of all, I built the software only after I found 3 people in my circle of friends who were willing to pay it forward.This allowed me to understand if I was solving a real problem people would pay for or not (it was important to me, but this might not be of the same importance if you are on a freemium model, which might require a different take on this).
After that, I pretty much used:
1. Referral (for every client, try to make them super-happy every time and then ask for a referral of them)
2. Networking. Onion2k already told this, so, join and meet people who might help you or need you. In my case one breakthrough was to find out my product featured on product hunt (and near 100 upvotes) thanks to the relationships I built over time.
3. Reddit could be another place you find useful, although in my case I discovered that it's a community more geared towards free product (so if you have a trial, you must solve a really powerful problem to have them try it, or have a super-compelling homepage).
4. Quora is another place I gained a bit of traction thanks to some small, targeted questions I answered. Not much a big deal, but it's worth checking out.
Always remember, in everything you do, your goal must be to add value to the people or the conversation.I personally think that when you do only for marketing purpouse and not for the sake of adding more value to what you see, everything ends up being bad.
5. Giveaways are another great idea you can use, find a good blog/magazine in your niche and see if you get to place a giveaway over there.
6. If you are still struggling on how to build your network, the easiest way is to help people.Find people in your niche and help them in any possible and honest way. Don't think about marketing, think about just helping them without selling.Networking is made of friends (at least to me).
7. Timing is everything: If your website is featured in something like Product Hunt, JOIN the conversation and if you can, offer a greeting offer on your product page.
Also... time and effort is required. LOTS of it.For example Airbnb didn't grow up in a day, but grew up thanks to small, continuous ideas and efforts.As toumhi told you: do not automate until it's needed.
If you are an engineer you will want to automate. Resist that temptation, do it only when you can't do it yourself at all.
One nice read about gettin traction is tractionbook.com . I read it recently, and while some of the channels they describe for getting early users might have a price, others are really free, so it's a worth reading.
Also, there are some queries they don't like people to do unless they're paying. This might be one of them. Facebook isn't an easy network to scrape.
You made it through by being versatile. Not by starting to learn while you were job hunting, but being prepared when jobs were aplenty.
You had to be ready to be employed in a non-VC funded world, doing boring things.
Learn some boring stuff, even stuff that gets laughed at on HN. .NET. Java. In places like Houston, there's TONS of jobs, but they're not in Rails or Clojure or Angular. They're in .NET, writing apps for big oil or healthcare.
Though it wasn't as big then, I think learning dev-ops will really take someone far when no one's writing Twitter aggregators or social networks for quadcopters.
tl;dr When times are lean, boring languages in boring companies that make real, not VC, money is how you stay afloat
Keep in mind, besides the dot-com crash and then the sept 11th attacks, the real macro environment of the early 2000s was outsourcing. Everybody believed you could just hire a team in India or Russia for pennies on the dollar. It would take another 5+ years for that trend to reverse as companies recognized the challenges in moving their development resources off-shore.
As I stated, I responded to the off-shore movement by switching to a less-affected industry (aerospace/defense). Most "market corrections" really affect the most vulnerable segments of the job market: entry-level and near-retirement.
If you didn't have every single acronym in the job req and 5+ years of experience with each, the employers simply were not interested. Things like, you'd used Eclipse but not IntelliJ disqualified you because IntelliJ was requested. Some job reqs even requested more years of experience in some technology which had only been around for half the time mentioned.
Sending 100+ resumes a week without any callbacks became the norm. Recruiters could simply sit back and wait for the resumes to come to them. If you weren't actively looking, no one would call you.
Enterprise market was essentially the only game in town. Any kind of web dev just died overnight. I managed to start and finish a masters degree before things got better again.
After a couple of months, I started cold-calling businesses as a consultant/freelancer - got my first gig at $20/hour, and then a more reasonable one at $55/hour, since then I've been passed around via word of mouth. I found that clients were more amenable to contracts than FTE because they all needed work "for now" but were petrified of commitment since they had no idea what the future would be like. Anyway, I stuck with freelancing and have never since taken a salaried job.
Basic advice - don't sacrifice your salary for stock options (unless you're a founder and already have enough emergency fund saved up to last you through another crash). Don't trust your "like a family" employer to take care of you, don't believe that HR has your best interests at heart. You're in business for you, not your employer - treat them well in exchange for them treating you fairly, but not out of some misplaced sense of "loyalty". The rest of it is just, save up and live simply - programmers aren't investment bankers.
One of the big challenges was that large companies were the only place to get hired - the few startups that were around were often zombies leftover from the dot-com times; it was clear they weren't going anyplace, and (perhaps exaggerating slightly here...) nobody was starting anything new. Keep in mind though a lot has changed in 15 years - it took a lot more capital for infrastructure in those days so there were fewer companies starting up anyway.
For people my age and older... we saw the pre-dot-com slowness of the early 90s, we got caught in the dot-com downturn, we got caught again in the post 9/11 downturn, then we saw our house values melt down in 2008... so as far as I'm concerned, in good times be painfully frugal and stash cash because the bad times are just around the corner...
About 40% of the twenty-somethings in SF moved out. SF itself was so dead that one day, at rush hour, I saw a completely empty street in downtown. I asked a cop if something was stopping traffic, and he said no, it had been like that for a few days. Many empty buildings in SOMA.
I had an automatic system predicting the death dates of publicly held dot-coms, based on their assets and cash flow. I keep it up for reference:
(Where it says "Chart is not available for this symbol", that means the company is so dead.)
Yes, there was a huge market through Y2K and the dot-com bubble for people who knew how to operate a keyboard, and that market collapsed. But those people where as much developers as I am a surgeon because I know how to apply a band-aid. Personally I was glad the bubble burst, because it became increasingly harder to avoid landing in a place where most of the "developers" weren't utterly incompetent.
HN isn't a representative audience though. Most of those people wouldn't be on the early 2000's equivalents of HN either. If this is a bubble and it bursts, most of HN-ers that get affected won't be out of work for more than a month.
Many may have to take a boring enterprise gig, but that's pretty much how the second wave of internet-companies started: bored and with time on their hands, many hackers started to work on what was then called "social software" projects, which eventually resulted in a wave of social media startups.
Things may be different in SV, especially when it comes to the balance of wages vs cost of living, but SV is an outlier.
When the crash happened, I started to get calls from developers who wouldn't take my calls a year earlier. Many had a few jobs within a short period of time. I remember placing one guy three times in two years due to closings.
Many recruiters couldn't generate enough revenue and subsequently left the market, which was actually a good thing because the market had become flooded and needed a purging. Salaries came down a bit, but candidates at this point would put very little value on stock options. Options went from being looked at as a large piece of the package to being considered the equivalent of lottery tickets.
To be insulated, I'd encourage you to try to become 'known' in your space. Those with solid reputations and networks were always employed, even if they bounced around a bit.
This boom is honestly (IMO) 1) more stable, as many companies actually do have business models and revenue and 2) more exciting (technology stacks are more interesting, tools have improved by leaps and bounds, very interesting companies are popping up.)
My advice is to be constantly learning (both theory and practice); watch trends and become familiar with where they are going (if an exciting new technology comes along, learn some of the basics, even if that's just a "hello world" equivalent - I don't recommend doing a deep dive of anything truly new unless it really blows your mind or you think it's going to become lucrative); try to generalize your skillset a bit - there's a tradeoff here of course, as specialists will often get paid more while the getting is good - but it means you'll never lack for work (and may get stuck with some more drudgery since you're the jack-of-all-trades, master of none.) I'd also recommend trying to get multiple income streams going, whether that's from your own services business, freelancing, or just software-related consulting, so that if/when the crash comes, you've already got your own personal safety net.
I basically learned something I thought I knew - debt is bad. Really bad. We survived but it was only because we clamped down super hard and interest rates dropped.
When times are good, cut your debt so you owe nothing. Get some savings but once you have some savings pay off the debt.
I knew lots of people who were still employeed but were freaking out because the stock market was collapsing and they were overleveraged - they had borrowed against their home to buy stock.
When April 2000, hit everyone stopped watching their stocks shoot up to watching their stocks crash - same lack of work getting done but gloomier and more suicidal.
My advice to you is:
network, network, network - now before you need it.
Something that I find hard to do myself sometimes.
Then again I have been through a bunch of crashes/mini-crashes already.
But in 2000, you could not rent a Uhaul - they were all reserved for people leaving ahead of you.
Every boom time gets more and more selective here.
Tech is not a long term career move - the ageism will get you if the boom/bust doesn't. Plan for a life outside of tech if you can.
The froth is happening. I am betting on a crash somewhere around mid 2016. Stock market is looking frothy with the real economy doing nothing. .... just like in 1991, 2000, 2008
The main downside was that smaller companies kept going out of business (which is why I had so many jobs in that time period -- two of those companies disappeared entirely, one of them taking a month's worth of salary with it, which super-sucked).
A key thing, though, is that lots of really, really, really marginal developers got hired in the late '90s -- I worked with some of those at the first company that went out of business -- and they very possibly never got a job in the industry again. Crashes make companies a lot more selective, just as bubbles make them hire any warm body who can possibly even theoretically write code.
First one was a startup acquired by a big corporation in 2000, but they gave up on us a couple years later. How much the larger economic climate affected that, versus the indisputable fact that we were spending a lot more than we were making, I don't know.
Got another job before the severance ran out. Second one was a small startup, which ran out of cash and failed to make payroll a few months later. The owners wanted to keep going on a shoestring and offered me equity to stay, but I didn't want to take that gamble. Again, I can't say how much of that was due to the economy (harder to find investors in 2002 than in 2000), versus the fact that the company was spending money and not making any.
Got another job right away. This one was a profitable government contractor, I stayed there for years.
My first piece of advice is to always have current, marketable skills. You don't have to chase every trend, but you should know more than one thing, just in case that one thing becomes the next buggy whip.
My second piece of advice is not to put all your eggs into one basket. Salary is more reliable than equity. Savings will get you through rough times.
Think also about Paul Graham. Y Combinator is a case of him monetizing a reputation that he earned (and, yes, he actually earned it) by standing up for startups in the depths of winter. I, for one, plan on making a strong and vocal case for Real Technology (it shall rise again) after the Snapchat/Clinkle frivolity blows up and humiliates the current cool kids. Being able to explain why shit went to hell ca. 2017, as it will, is going to help us make a case for building something better in the next iteration.
That said, it was a bad time for entry-level salaries, and graduate school admissions were ridiculously competitive in 2003-05. If you had a $60k offer (that'd be $72k today) you were in the top third of CS graduates, and non-STEM graduates were lucky to see $40k. I'd guess that the more experienced engineers didn't see a massive salary drop (maybe 10-20% at worst) but it wasn't a good time for job hopping. Certainly that feeling that one could get a 20% raise, just by walking across the street, died out.
It was a good labor market for finance because there was a lot of cheap talent. First-year Goldman Sachs analysts were only in the $60-65k range. (Bonuses could be 50-100%, but they were also working 60-110 hours per week.) Undergrad quants (that's rare but the positions exist) were generally getting $80-90k offers.
People expected housing prices to come down, but they didn't decline by much because there was this other bubble that was building at the same time...
At the time the crash was just starting to happen, I interviewed at Sun for a job in the Java compiler group.
Their office was just off the De Anza and 280 exit in Cupertino. They told me how their neighbor Apple hadn't been doing well,and how they were gradually taking over all the office space near them. The folks I interviewed with thought Apple would be history in a few years, and being a hardware company that was doing well, they would deal with the crash just fine. I believed them.
Apple made a complete comeback.Sun went through many rounds of layoffs before it was swallowed by Oracle.
Luckily for me I ended up taking another job at a company that was one of the few to do relatively well during the crash.
Till this day I am grateful I did not take the Sun offer.
The next crash probably won't be cyclical in your city. The money will come back, but it will come back somewhere else.
If your priority is to stay in the city where you're living, be prepared to make that work (which means being flexible about what you do), or be prepared to move (which means being flexible about where you live, and being in a relationship where moving for work is OK).
The only area that was really hiring at the time was the Government, and I lived on the east coast so I was able to work for a Government contractor a few months after graduating. It took quite a bit longer for some of my friends to finally use their degree and some still never have.
And by "diversifying your skill set" I don't mean just being proficient in more than one area, but also being perceived as being proficient in more than one area. This is probably hard to do without switching jobs. You have to sell yourself as being "good at both A and B" during the interview and only then will the perception take root.
Incidentally, this was a double-edged sword for me, since peoples' perception of me being a designer (I had merely added a couple art samples to my resume) always seemed to pull my career in a less technical direction than I wanted to go, partly because I stayed at the same company so long.
2) I did take a pretty dull "and stressful for being that dull" job with an insurance co. as a senior developer after the startup (probably closer to 'small biz' at that point) I worked for had a major restructuring. The dull job did allow me to focus a bit more on some other freelance/networking opportunities.
3) As a few have noted, the biggest thing afterwards seemed to be the outsourcing wave. That plus the sudden glut in the market seemed to nearly wipe out entry level opportunities. There was a period of time where I (being only 6-7 years out of college myself) don't recall working with a single new graduate.
Actually it felt great. Like a return to the basics.
> What were job-prospects like?
IIRC development went off a cliff. Even people who were in secure industries were at risk because of the deflation in salaries. IT/Operations was reasonably safe.
> How were your wages affected?
Roughly cut in half overall. Through the worst of it in two years then back to normal.
> Well-insulated if/when the next crash happens?
Aside from a good savings account. Don't be afraid to pick up a little ops experience. Most people I knew who sailed through the bubble spent a few years doing in-house work for some non-tech company. There is always work closer to the business side. When times are good it's all about wish fulfillment with new services/features etc... During a downturn it's ruthlessly about costs.
- where in your career you were- where in location you were- what kind of employer you had
Far and away the hardest hit during the last crash were new-grads who had accepted job offers that hadn't actually started yet. Those jobs immediately went away and there was nothing to replace them with. I know of lots of people who left tech in general after this, and others who constitute a "lost" generation that has always made less money/done less interesting things because of this. Everyone up the experience ladder did better in an almost exponential way. That is, junior devs either spent a lot of time unemployed or accepted jobs at salaries well below what they were expecting. More experienced devs ended up hunkering down in "boring" jobs and saw their wages stagnate for a few years etc.
SV and the west coast in general got hit much harder than the rest of the country. NYC, Chicago, Texas, Minneapolis, Atl, etc had down cycles but their diversified employer base meant that it was muted by comparison.
Besides the obvious dying of unsustainable startups and their employees, the people in tech. services were much more impacted than other industries. Particularly hard hit, were body shops and the big consultancies. Finance, insurance, pharma, etc all took much less of a hit.
I'd add that along with the dot com bubble, several other factors added in to make the last crash particularly brutal. Lots of enterprises used the 2000 bug scare as an excuse to retool and there was tons of work that went away after that ramped down. Then 9/11 came along and put a major hit on companies willingness to spend on infrastructure.
As far as being "well-insulated", there isn't much advice to give. These are macro factor trends that impact everyone. The advice for this is the same as for dealing with any risk. Keep your spend rate low, have a safety net, diversify your skill set and have a strong professional network that thinks highly of you.
My first east coast gigs were freelance work that I took from video production shops who got into the business of building websites during the boom because it was such a big money maker. After the crash they had laid off all the unqualified staff (random employees who learned dreamweaver and were therefore somehow qualified to build websites) and started scooping up people with actual technical education (me) for dirt cheap ($25/hr).
I moved to the Bay Area about 2003-2004 and the situation was a little better but I still had to look for work aggressively. Fulltime positions never were presented to me, though there were a lot of on-site freelance gigs out there so I didn't notice. I think companies were still wary of staffing up. I was getting paid what I thought were amazing rates at the time ($45/hr). Back when I was starting out I was always the youngest person on any team by a stretch. A lot of staff guys were 15 to 20 years older than me with a family and kids. Some were even older. Might have something to do with who they chose to lay off a few years before my time, but never asked.
Because of the freelance vs staff situation I basically never took a fulltime job and stayed freelance ever since. Though after I moved to LA I was offered staff jobs circa 2006 onwards and it started getting aggressive after that but I stuck to 1099's. I think a lot of guys who entered the market when I did went the same path.
I have been continuously employed or have had substantial contracting since 1999 (almost all regular employment, except for no more than a total of 12 months of various freelance).
I can only guess why, but it is probably some combination of:
1. When the layoffs came, I was in the non-laid-off remnant, probably because I always situated myself to know how everything worked, soup-to-nuts: code, databases, servers, etc.
2. Constant re-education, and willingness to use languages and tools I considered to have technical deficits (e.g., ColdFusion).
3. Constant teaching. Was always teaching Java or, later, Ruby in the evenings. Stayed sharp.
4. Constant networking. Very important -> I networked both at the tech level and at the business level. Keeping in touch with VPs of marketing and business development meant that when their cohort was looking for devs, the business-side VPs would think of me. Techie-to-techie referrals were nil.
5. Maturity. Was recruited into an executive position in 2002 perhaps because of attitude + tech skills.
Afterwords there was not much work for a short while until I took a 6 month development gig (writing a Sharepoint clone) for a company in India at a not very high consulting rate, but by the time I was done the job market was better for remote workers.
I can understand why it happened. No one was educated some guy would get millions of funding for nothing but hype and high tail it out of there. People had money and were just cramming into places that didn't have a plan. I could literally walk into a place and make an animated gif on a webpage and people would oooooo'.
When it crashed it was literally like a vacuum and we all lived our life like 'that' didn't happen.
1) There are industries like health care and insurance that have traditionally been good places to hang your hat during a downturn. If you can learn about regulations, trends, and domain-specific tech in those fields, you will always have a job.
2) Both in the dot-com era and more recently, there were loads of people who entered the industry because they saw dollar signs. If a downturn hits, many will be quickly weeded out because they won't have put in the hard work to round out their skills and portfolio, or thought about their long-term career progression. You can avoid being pruned by planning ahead and taking action now to make sure you've got solid credentials.
Money was flying about in all directions and all you needed to do was stick your hand up and grab some of it. Your silly internet company would get $25 Million for the worst idea you could think of. If you'd read a "For Dummies" book, you could take your pick of $75/hr contracts or just grab as much $200/hr freelance work as you felt like. You could stick that surplus money into the market by picking any stock with an "e" in front of the name and watch it double in value every few weeks.
Then 2000 happened. And it went back to normal.
Not a disaster. Not the end of the world. Just back to regular jobs for regular companies with regular business plans for regular developer wages. If you were good at what you did, you were fine. If you were a converted business major, you went to law school. No sweat.
Everybody (at least everybody I was aware of) saw it coming. We were in a bubble. Yahoo wasn't going to double a fifth time that year, so it probably wasn't a good idea to accept that 10x leverage your brokerage offered and dump your life savings into it. We still partied like it was 1999 (since it was), but we were all ready for the day when the party ended.
Then it did. And we went on with our lives.
We might just do the same thing in a year or two. And again, it probably won't be that big a deal.
The good developers I knew went into a holding pattern, sitting at whatever job they landed until things improved. It only took 2-3 years before the demand started to come back. At that point, there was another split, where the really good people went off to new jobs, and the less talented stayed in the same corporate jobs. This then left a few really good years to be working as a consultant, as the corporate teams had lost all their talent and needed help. The guys I know who rode that consulting wave have all since migrated into director or VP positions at consulting firms, and are doing quite well financially, even if they have sold their soul tot he corporate world.
Of course, not everyone went the consulting route. Many of us just stuck with coding, but found better places to do it, for better salaries. But most people my age (40s) have no interest in riding the startup wave again.
I saw decent developers laid off, but good developers kept on. I saw companies desperately hunting for business (and signing ruinous contracts to have revenue). I saw promises to employees that had been made in exuberance broken (we'll open a London office). I saw poor business practices--lay offs the week of Thanksgiving, for example. I saw the business I was a part of get smaller and smaller as the fat was trimmed.
However, for good developers, there were still raises. I know some great people who were hired away, so I think that the job market still existed. But you certainly weren't getting the exuberant benefits in the new job.
I was too young to be on recruiters' radar, so I can't comment on that.
As far as insulating yourself, I think the best things you can do are:
* be humble * learn new skills * be cognizant of the business and the value it provides to consumers, and where it is weak * know if the business is profitable, and how (1 big customer? 1,000,000 small ones? advertising) * save a large chunk of your salary, and not just in your 401k * keep your network alive (maybe be an informal recruiter? http://www.mooreds.com/wordpress/archives/1728 )
I graduated from ArsDigita University in 2001. Right time, right place to see stuff completely implode. I must have sent 100+ resumes during 2001, and temped at Harvard for a while until getting a job through a friend in Feb 2002, in Java development. It wasn't great, so I kept up the job search and finally went to grad school in 2003 while finding a part-time consulting job, also in Java. That kept me afloat until I graduated in 2006, and moved out of the USA.
Looking back, the companies acted like they could do no wrong, and it bit them hard. ArsDigita was a dot-com darling for a while, but it did crazy things like sign ten-year leases for a branch office that could seat 20-30 people and they had 2-3 actual employees in that city.
I remember in ArsDigita University, we weren't based in the actual office but a place about a metro stop away (where ITA Software based themselves a decade later, yay lisp), in the basement. We started the program in September, and one day in March we were let into a larger, nicer office on the first floor and were told that AD also rented this part as well, anticipating another 20 or so programmers would work here as well. It remained empty until we moved out of the space later that year.
Around April 2001, pink slip parties were still happening, but people were getting nervous. VC funding had completely shut off, I think.
Late December 2001, 2nd and Folsom -- tumbleweeds and homeless people.
Recruiters went from being suckups to being sorta mean. They never liked us in the first place. Interviews became brutal. The best way to survive was learning a little business and knowing the difference between a cost and a revenue center.
The market, at least in Dallas/Austin was barren. The only new job postings on job boards were repost by recruiters looking to pad their portfolios.
I keep lowering my expected hourly rate/salary weekly. When I got it down to 50% a recruiter called me back and got me something.
> Did recruiters simply cease to exist?
All the opportunistic, bad recruiters crawled back to whatever hole they came from. Same with all the unqualified "bandwagon programmers" who cashed on the bubble and gave all of us a bad reputation forcing hiring managers into brutal interviewing processes.
Recruiters were let go too, agencies closed or downsized. A few good ones remained.
> More to the point, what advice do you have for developers who want to be well-insulated if/when the next crash happens?
Well first, you got to have some sort of financial cushion and a plan to cut down expenses to the bone: the day I was laid of on 2001 I canceled my phone, cable, any other superfluous monthly expense. Also moved to smaller apartment as soon as I could. I knew it was going to be rough for a while.
Next is to know which industry to aim for: after 9/11 lots of money flowed to military contractors so I started aiming for that industry. I ended up programming for a company that provided services for the military until the market recovered.
I submitted 45 applications. I ended up with two interviews. It took me 4 months to get my first job. I was being paid about half of what I was making as a high schooler in 1998.
In the end it was one of those strange blessings. That company ended up being a fledgling Quickoffice which launched me into my startup career.
Still, it was quite tense at the time.
Besides that, I never really noticed the crash. Hiring was just as difficult since the average unemployed web dev didn't do C++ and machine control, so the glut of developers didn't really help us.
As for what I did during the crash started my own web/usability company in 2000. Nothing to do with the crash (the company I left was successful and bought a few years later would have made a lot more money if I'd stayed and waited for my stock to vest ;-) Just wanted to get out of management at the time.
Just because the VC / startup market was crashing and burning didn't mean that a whole stack of existing companies didn't want to get on the web at that time ;-)
From my perspective a lot of it depended on where you lived.
The folk I know who were working in the US at the time didn't really notice a lot of difference if they weren't in the valley or NYC. Because outside of those areas the crash didn't cause that large a change in the job market. In the UK (where I live) not a lot changed outside of London, and maybe Brighton.
If you were in SF or London though you were facing a lot of skilled people hitting the streets at roughly the same time. Which obviously drove wages down. For a time it was a employers market.
For me the biggest visible changes I saw were:
* on the bright side: far fewer idiots were hired
* on the dark side: far fewer newbies were hired and trained on the job
* I got fewer calls trying to poach me, and lower offers for London jobs
* I faced a lot of competition from other folk starting their own agencies after leaving a failing startup
The biggest problem was faced by complete newbies or folk still finding their feet since there were far more experienced folk around in the job market. And they got hired first.
Advice for developers who want to insulate themselves:
* If you're working now save money. Money gives you options.
* Be good at your job.
* Understand how to communicate to third parties that you are good at your job.
* Stop thinking that all work outside of the non-VC funded world is dull an uninteresting. It isn't.
* Have connections outside of the startup echo chamber.
* Live, or be willing to move to, locations that aren't flooded by hundreds of people just like you.
By the time I graduated in 2001 my cohort were taking jobs at Staples selling computers so there's that. Many people were getting into graduate programs to wait out the downturn. I am not sure how this affected minimum education standards for new hires down the road.
I did OK but there were some lean times.
So, geeks were given millions and felt like they had to impress the investors. So if the competition moved to a new office, they moved to even bigger ones. If the CEO was driving a Porsche, they got a Ferrari. So you could tell a tech startup was in a building by the multiple Porsches parked outside. The same principle applied after the crash - you could tell a tech startup is crashing due to the multiple people coming out with cardboard boxes. Every day another startup next to us did the cardboard box dance. Our turn came as well of course. My next job lasted 2 months as that company tanked as well, and as a new recruit I was first to be let go. Next company lasted a bit longer but at that time the city was changed. Before the crash I had to park my car at the other side of town and take a taxi to it when I needed it. After the crash I could park everywhere I wanted and at any time. After the crash I had periods between jobs that I couldn't find any work. At all, but I was lucky (and good enough) to ultimately get a good gig. During those dead periods though I had to leave the City which was probably the hardest thing for me as I really like San Francisco.
I don't regret a thing though. And I think the crash ultimately did good to the industry. It was too much before it happened. A strange gold rush with a total lack of common sense. The waves to follow are somewhat more sensible.
Before:* Pay increases of 10-50% each year or two as you changed jobs.* Finding a job was a matter of sending your resume to 1 or 2 decent recruiters, then fielding the endless calls about opportunities.* High quality, challenging technical interviews from senior developers and engineers.
After:* No significant pay increases anymore.* Recruiters that never answered emails or calls (explained below).* Low quality interviews given by hiring managers, or in some cases by contractors with little experience of their own.* H1-B visas bringing in floods of people who largely could not solve problems and who needed to be given every solution just short of typing the code.
Prior to dot-com bust, recruiters were professionals who had a fair grasp of the technologies and industries they were involved in. They seemed to treat their jobs as actual professions rather than as temporary stepping stones to something else.
After the bust, companies reigned in their (perhaps overly aggressive) hiring and IT growth, leading to perhaps an over-abundance of recruiting firms. But at the same time, new recruiting firms emerged staffed by low (no) quality keyword-searching resume-pushing monkeys who would work for peanuts. Thus, the real recruiting firms cut staff so severely that the remaining few were buried under resumes of all the IT people displaced (let go).
Companies still had positions open, even advertising them, but hiring managers were very reluctant to actually fill those positions. Despite approvals to hire, nobody wanted to take the risk of actually spending the money on more staff.
This led to the growth in low skill H1-B labor, which further reduced the need for quality recruiters. It all became a game of numbers, a race to the lowest common denominator.
When that didn't produce positive results for industries, corporate management (who could count money but could not judge IT quality) made the next obvious step - offshoring. This further ruined the environment.
Basically there was an 8-10 year dark age in IT (unless perhaps you were in Silicon Valley... I can't speak for that). It still hasn't recovered fully, and it probably never will.
Later I went on to finish a masters degree in computer science and have two more kids.
The thing that stands out to me the most about that period in time was how flat it was. No significant pay raises, no new hires, nobody leaving (where wasn't really anywhere decent to go). The team and the work fortunately stayed interesting.
Take that for what it's worth - I'm just one data point. Also, the last couple years have been too good to us in our industry, but I don't think it's anything like the absurdity of the late 90's, so I would be surprised if there was a crash that hit as hard.
Also, to echo what others here have said, we didn't know we had it so good until we suddenly didn't. If you're in your first job in a fabulously-funded tech startup with bizarro perks, brace yourself that it may not be normal. :) But appreciate it while you've got it!
I also remember a few times where I was interviewing tech writers, and they would beg me for the job - they had been out of work for 2-3 years.
I don't think it will get that bad if the current cycle bursts. There's a lot more tech companies out there that are making money, and even if/when the VC money dries up there will be some jobs.
Now, while it was terrible for B2C, government consulting was booming. It wasn't the sexiest of work, but it was a good four years of my life.
I just wonder what would have happened if I could have grabbed the money and then go to school during the crash instead... Perhaps it wouldn't have made a difference.
In a way it was good, as when I went back, I no longer did java.
(Edit): 6 months unsuccessful job hunting for dev roles, then after money ran out, back to home town and living in a place my mother owned and taking any job I could.
At one point you see these things, pink slip parties.. fascinating stuff. http://www.investopedia.com/terms/p/pink-slip-party.asp
Anyway, we're not in a bubble, so don't worry. :)
2008-9 was actually worse... that was the first decline in revenues and it combined with changing climate toward outsourcing with our government clients.
So...yeah.... if people like that were getting top salaries, then things were a bit crazy.
I was dumb, had a couple of options to jump ship from the place that laid me off, and I didn't take them as I was insistent on moving to NM where my girlfriend was in grad school.
Shoulda stayed in the Bay Area. Rule of thumb: if something smells fishy about your current job: start looking asap.
For example, a job posting looked something like 'Five to seven years of experience building hospitality services using Java Servlets and Oracle Databases.' They would get dozens of qualified resumes and could hire someone for significantly less their previous salary.
Also, the "dot com bubble" makes it sound like it happened all of the sudden. Lots of smart people thought things were fishy by 1998. By 2000 everyone was convinced. Just because some people are talking bubble now doesn't mean things are going to fall apart next month. Make hay while the sun shines. And be careful about car leases and mortgages.
That job search took months. Without a degree or professional experience, I didn't hear back from anyone. Which really stunk, because back then you had to fax your resume and my local Kinko's charged something like a buck a page. I was stocking the sci-fi section at Borders and reading computer books at night.
There was nothing like today's open source community, no sites like Github. It you couldn't point to a commercial product you built, you had no business claiming you could program. Recruiters wouldn't even talk to me.
I got a job at a company that hired pretty much anyone and sent them to a two-week BASIC course and made them web programmers. Literally, the guy who sat next to me drove limos and had zero exposure to programming before taking the job. But they could bill for his time by the hour, so...great! You can read a bit about my story and the technologies I worked with there in my three-part blog series "Pick is a living fossil of computer history" https://davidmichaelross.com/blog/a-living-fossil-of-compute...
Once I took that job doing Pick, I heard from recruiters at least once a week...for Pick jobs. Again, unless you had a job with a certain technology, you couldn't get a job with that technology, because there were 20 other people with more experience willing to work for the same crappy entry-level wages.
The early 2000s were much the same until I dropped $1000 of my own money on a Java certification and suddenly I was getting calls about Java positions all day long.
My advice? I hate telling people to build up a Github profile because not everyone has the luxury of coding in their spare time. But that's one of the most visible things you can do to prove your knowledge of different technologies. Be glad you have it, and use the heck out of it.
Save up money so you can go for months without a programmer's salary. You might need to.
Accept that you might have to take a job that's not very interesting of glamorous. But never take a job in a technology as old as your parents.
I did what's now called DevOps, automating server and code deployment, monitoring, etc. I could do no wrong. Got promoted, ran a team before I could buy a drink. Got treated like a rockstar with every role I chose to take. People needed to scale and I knew how to do it without hiring a room full of network admins. Serious stock options. My compensation felt like it was following Moore's Law.
The startup I worked at failed. My friends, colleagues, former managers, almost entire network all got kicked to the curb around the same time. Recruiters dropped off the face of the earth. There was no one out there to reach out to.
I collected unemployment for a few months.
I ended up taking a basic IT admin job for a drug trial company at about 60% my salary. A friend of mine landed at a small business Windows IT consulting shop with a bonus structure I could kill, so I interviewed there. I ended up as a local field engineer driving around to different small business clients fixing windows desktops and printers, but with an extra hours bonus structure that had me back up to my previous salary in a couple of years.
In short, I went from a Unix/Linux rockstar to Windows network guy. Now I own my own language learning business and I'm back doing part time DevOps consulting (what's old is new again). I bill out at $225/hr because people want to scale again. It's nuts because just a few short years ago there wasn't a company on this earth that would touch me for $30/hr.
How does it relate to now? I just spent the past two weeks consulting at a couple of startups, including directly for a startup accelerator and wow, yeah. It's the same vibe.
I got back on my feet. Most of my friends did too. I had to fix Windows XP desktops for pipe supply companies and law firms for a while. I had to launch my own non-sexy business to really get out of it. Now my tech skill set and interest happened to be popular again, so I'm taking advantage of that and doing some consulting. I don't expect the tech stuff to last, so I prefer to look at my own small language business as my long-term gig. I don't trust this.
My advice... Industries go through ups and downs, so you will experience it at some point. I survived by becoming OK with helping businesses outside of the bubble. I built my own more or less non-tech business on the side that grew to where I can live off of that if I need to. I advise maintaining a good network across several industries. If the tech startups bubble pops, you can write code for industrial robot control panels or billing systems. Network in industries outside your comfort zone. My sister-in-law wrote systems on contract for a hotel. A friend of mine works on enterprise tax software for Mexican companies. If the bubble pops, have a diverse network to reach out to. The front door's going to be jammed with resumes from people like you, all at once.
I had left one gig and had started looking for the next one. One month I was getting multiple 6-figure full-time job offers. The next month the phone didn't ring.
I ended up going back to basics: marketing. I went through the online job boards and found which skills were still selling, then revised my resume to focus on those. I made my pitch better and started to talking to recruiters.
It's all still just a numbers game. There's a funnel of jobs you apply for. The next level is the recruiter interview, then the tech interview. Different rate quotes get different amounts of volume into the top of the funnel.
I ended up taking a 30% cut from my rate before. That went on for a few months, then the next job was back at my normal rate. In fact, the more I worked the market the better my rates got. I took a big hit for the several months it took to re-tool, but in general within a year or two I was doing as good or better than before. (The only exception is that the full-time job calls dried up.)
The rule of thumb here is that multi-skilled contractors can always find work as long as they have good marketing and sales skills. The guys who had been camping out at the same job for several years and not growing their skillset had the worst time of it.
Oh, and having a friend who is a very good engineer (ms cs from mit) take a job for $45k to put a dent in their mortgage.
I went on sabbatical in October 2000 to SE Asia to backpack for 6 months. When I left, my current company had an open return door for me in my position. I also had two other companies that I had been talking to about working for either of them when I got back.
When I got back in March, there were no jobs to be had. I had money in the bank though and didnt realize how bad it was. Six months after getting back we had a party where ~55 people showed up. All tech workers. Out of the 55, only 3 had jobs.
It wasnt for another 12 months that I found a job - falling back to my previous skill as an architectural drafter. Fortunately it was for a small design firm that was wanting to do more technical stuff - so we were designing datacenters, server rooms, corp stuff. It worked out well - but for 18 months it was really really really bad. I only survived because my family owned my condo and I had a roommate who paid me $750/month in rent which is what I lived on. I couldnt get unemployment because I voluntarily left for my trip - on which I spent almost all my savings.
Believe me that can change. In a heartbeat. February 2000 and February 2002 were like night and day. BSCS's become much more important as opposed to just experience. You will see more "BSCS required" in ads. Networking - people who stayed in touch with former coworkers etc. came out ahead.
My career started in 1996. I had very little college, but knew Unix decently enough to be a sysadmin. I started at a small ISP, followed by a dot-com startup, followed by another dot-com startup which I was at in 2000.
I thought technology stock price/earnings ratios were at historic highs in early 2000 and was expecting a correction. I expected the crash, although it was bigger and longer than I expected. I thought getting some Fortune 500 experience on my resume would be a good idea. By the end of the year I was employed at a consulting company that placed me as a Unix sysadmin at a Fortune 100 financial company. Actually within a few months the company laid off internal staff and told the consulting company (which was pretty integrated into the staff) that they wanted some consultants cut, which I (barely) survived.
One mantra of our large consulting company is we never had to worry about the next assignment and money, but that was not true. During good times, they made the lion's share of the consulting fees, during bad times they fired anyone who could not be placed almost immediately. So the security they promised did not exist. I had time clocked in at a good placement though so I was safe.
I also had my own startup side project which I killed when the stock market crashed. It was kind of like a Geocities for video games. It had begun to get traction. It was very dependent on disk space, and I had been thinking of spending tens of thousands of dollars of my own money, not just on some servers but on disk arrays. Happily I never bought them. I went with the times - more focused on traction and "eyeballs" than revenue (although I made some revenue from beyond.com which sold software online, it was a public company whose shares went from over $600 to less than $1 and then bankruptcy).
Nowadays my efforts are more focused on bootstrapping and getting revenue early. It's worth it for an angel or VC to goad you on to spending money and chasing traction. They have dozens of bets and only need a few to pay off, you on the other hand might waste years of your life. I spent little money (colo'd at my old ISP), and a year of time, and learned programming etc. better so it wasn't bad.
I visited the Bay Area in late 2000 and had a job offer also, luckily for me I did not pack up and move there.
In terms of insulation: * A BSCS helps* Having lots of money saved helps* Money saved does not mean 95% invested in Rackspace stock, since stocks can go down as well as up* Keeping in contact with former coworkers helps* Having some clean, well architected, "Code Complete" proper code on Github helps* Having a side income from your own personal web sites, apps etc. helps
Another thing - right now the Bay Area is hot and other US cities are not as much. But from what I heard from friends, things were bad in the Bay Area in 2000-2001, whereas in LA, New York, Chicago, Boston, DC etc., they were not hit as hard by the tech crash.
Also, some people I knew were buying tech stocks on the margin in 2000 or even options (10% margin). They lost a lot. Also, unemployed people can eat through their savings very quickly. But there is no better insulation than having a lot of money saved up.
I was a Windows developer at the time and I remember a co-worker of mine left to join a startup and make it big. He started work at 8am, was downsized by 2pm and the company shut-down 2 days later. I worked with another guy who was going back to school for a certification, one of those early for profit schools, they had apparently invested much of their profit and when the market crashed, simply fired everybody in the middle of a semester, locked the doors and walked away.
Many of my peers moved back in with their parents and for lack of a job, simply went back to school and got their M.S.'s hoping to ride it out. I know a number of people who left the field entirely and started all kinds of random businesses: personalized woodburnt gift "cards", home-made chocolates, etc.
The company I worked for ended up simply running out of money, nobody had liquid capital to do anything like buy things or be our customer. We simply stopped getting paid.
I left, and through some connections, found a paid internship in a different career to make ends meet, on weekends I refurbished people's decks and delivered rides to kids' birthday parties. Through a twist of fate, my wife was in a weird immigration status and couldn't work (in those days you needed a work authorization card while waiting for your green card and the government was way behind in keeping them up-to-date). We were literally eating Ramen and Taco Bell for most of our food. I grew up pretty poor so it wasn't too much of a downslope, but it was pretty distressing for my wife. One pay period, my wife accidentally threw away my pay check in the trash, we wouldn't have been able to make rent and would have ended up homeless if I hadn't gotten my company to void it and issue me a new one.
Then 9/11 hit and things got worse. Immigration processes absolutely ground to a halt. My wife lost a job she had been able to get on her work authorization papers when they expired and the Immigration service forgot to issue her a new one. I remember an exorbitant anniversary dinner we went to at Olive Garden. We saved up for 2 months for it. It cost about $35 for the two of us. We asked for another basket of all you can eat breadsticks and a pasta refill then took the entire basket and all the pasta home with us so we could split it on another meal.
The place I was working at was delighted with me, and as a reward offered me another paid internship. Nonplussed with their generous offer, I applied to something like 300 other open positions, but the requirements had become insane: 5-7 years experience in fields that hadn't even existed 2 years prior, for entry-level positions paying less than I was making at my internship! I stayed at my internship. When it expired they offered to convert me to full-time at the same rate, but with benefits now being taken out I was bringing home less money!
It was about this time that lots of the courtesy in the hiring process disappeared, things like calling back applicants to let them know their application had been reviewed but they had decided to go another direction, that sort of thing, simply stopped.
On top of all of this, outsourcing was becoming a thing, and tons of jobs were moving to India. Many major employers simply stopped hiring or fired all their technical staff and moved everything overseas. For most of them, it didn't really work out, but it had a major impact in the number of openings and the requirements for the openings. You literally didn't know if your job would exist from one-week to the next.
For me, things started to turn around some time in 2003-2004. My wife finally was able to work after getting her Green Card, my internship converted into a full-time position with better pay, cost to borrow money was stupid low (at the time) with bizarre favorable finance rules (that later got the country in trouble) and we bought a house and started building equity.
The housing market became insane and we sold our house, 2 years after buying it, for a 40% profit. In the meanwhile both of our careers had turn into actual careers and not desperate grabbing at scraps. Outsourcing started to show major weaknesses.
A lot of the excesses of the dot-com bubble and pre 9-11 were carefully scrutinized. Dumb shit like starting a company and spending half the investment money on lava lamps were understood to be a bad thing now. Actually needing a business plan became important. It stopped being possible for 19 year olds with 2 years of experience and a 9 page resume made up of fabrications to get hired into mature startups as directors of engineering and paid $200k salaries. Perl started to fall out of favor as a major force in the development of the Web and Java shops started to become a major "thing".
One, there were just fewer jobs and yet a lot of people competing for them, so it was especially hard if you didn't have a strong resume. Second, remote work was uncommon so if you didn't already live in a tech hub city you were pretty screwed. Third, performing the hiring process via the internet was iffy. Going through the process back then often involved stuffing a printed resume into an envelope and mailing it somewhere along with a printed cover letter, then waiting for a return letter or a phone call (which will probably just go to your voicemail or answering machine).
Granted, the tech field was a little better but not much, and not universally.
Disappointed edit: Your account has given answers on a range of Microsoft-related topics with different writing styles (rather decaf at first). Have multiple people at Microsoft used this account?
Your submission and responses read as if you already consumed the $250 of caffeine yourself. Can we tone it down a bit? It's 9am. :-)
Submitted my response.
Small pet peeve: It'd be nice if you didn't require input on all forms of the survey, especially the open response text fields. I understand if instant.ly doesn't give you an option.
take a look at 6to5 project
for that matter, why is NPM on that list? who uses node without using NPM?
Unfortunately most of clients don't realize that it's not possible to get a quality work for $20 per hour or even less. They get frustrated and disappointed in a whole idea of hiring a freelancer.
here is my conclusion: whatever you do, you will always end up having problems with those kind of site.
Either the escrow can be reverted, or the site side with the "employer", how about installing that odesk thing that take a screenshot of your desktop every few minutes ? and on, and on, etc.
I worked as a freelancer without such web sites for 10+ years (both in France and UK),either solo by networking etc. or via an agent that was finding clients for me in exchange of a 20% commission (yes that's not a typo) and this was 10 times better that any freelancer web site.
So what is the real problem ?
you (the freelancer) are actually the product
so called "employers" can play the game "let's find the cheapest product"(eg. let's hire a freelancer that can work for $8/hour in some other country)
you can not do any margin with a competition toward "cheap"either you invoice per hour, so even if you do the job faster than someone elseyou just invoice the actual hours, or you bid on a fixed price which is also a race to lowest amount of money.
It is absolutely a no-win situation
as an individual or a companywether you're building web sites, applications, mobile apps, etc.all those things have high valuesit is absolutely OK to invoice more that the time it took you to do iteg. make a margin to make a living
also those sites tend to concentrate "bad clients"eg. the one who don't understand technology, why it cost so much to do this,why you can not build something complicated in 10 minutes, etc.exactly the kind of clients you try to avoid at all cost
The sites like Freelancer and oDesk are saturated with highly competitive, cheap developers from Asia anyway. It's annoying. Nothing against Asians, but I wouldn't try to dive into a pool of them to get work. It's unrealistic in most cases, because they eat up opportunity like machines -- in large numbers.
Better off just cold calling.
I had much much better results with a monthly 'looking for a freelancer' thread on HN, and instead of writing the cover letters there, I spent time on studying and improving my skills.
I only really had problem with 2-3 guys who said they were good, but you know during the job they were Googling answers to the problems I had and had no real experience, but for the most part, some great programmers there.
I recommend ODESK, as a buyer, I am super protected from people not following through, so i have some confidence, aside from hiring locally for temp/programming work, I always use Odesk.
We are starting Dreamlance, a curated marketplace for projects and professionals.
Here are 3 ways how Dreamlance is different from all other curated marketplaces:
1. The Dreamlance Team actually vets each project that gets posted on our boards
- We make sure the project description is complete - We make sure the project deliverables are crystal clear - We make sure the project cost matches the effort required
We put in all this effort so that you dont have to spend a third of your time qualifying leads. We qualify, prepare and polish them for you.
2. We provide a hassle-free & secure payments platform via escrow
- You begin work only when the project owner funds the agreed upon milestone - Once the conditions for the milestone completion are met, we release the funds to you
This way you dont have to worry about chasing down unpaid invoices
3. We provide highly qualified assistance in resolving conflicts - In the event of a conflict of opinion between you and the project owner, we step in and provide unbiased arbitration - We ourselves have seen sticky situations in the middle of a project, and we believe our arbitration expertise will be of immense value to you
For these premium services, we would be charging you only 7.5% of the project cost, an industry low.
I strongly believe Dreamlance will soon become your preferred platform for professional freelancing.
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Thanks for sharing! I generally take longer-term gigs, so consistent dealflow isn't as big an of an issue for me. OP, what are you planning to do to fix your offline-network problem?
To summarize: I had a big project, that was not delivered after a several milestones, so the developer canceled the project, took the escrow, and I couldn't even leave a feedback!
You can't advertise the work you've done through freelancer.com as your own?
Also there is an issue with 3rd world developers who are making impression that freelancers should be paid dime on a buck.
From client side there are different horror stories when clients are scammed into accepting low-rate bidder, and get burned heavily, and then either turn back from these platforms, or turn to accepting only bids from local country.
I ended up with a Prosody install primarily for two reasons:1) Memory consumption/stability2) Authentication support
The XMPP server hosts up to 700-800 simultaneous users and is located on a machine that provides many other services. With both ejabberd and openfire at this scale, memory consumption was in the several hundred megabyte range and (specifically ejabberd) typically had CPU load of 10-20% of a core.
The prosody setup I ended up using was significantly more lightweight and was simple to set up with server authenticating logins against TLS-enabled LDAP.
In the past, ejabberd was avoided because of serious security issues with the software, but in the past few years it looks like they've gotten their act together somewhat. That said, there's still some recent CVEs, you would want to pay attention to this if deploying ejabberd in any public-facinc infrastructure. As an example, ejabberd used to _require_ storing all passwords in plaintext, claiming that this was "more secure" than the alternatives (ref: https://www.ejabberd.im/plaintext-passwords-db)
The main strengths are that it is very simple and lightweight, and uses less resources. The drawbacks is that it is simple and lightweight, so anything more complicated for corporate deployments is something you often have to roll up your sleeves and implement yourself.
I was scared to run it at first because it is written in Lua, which is an unknown language to me. However, I must say it is quite an elegant language. I could get an authentication plugin running after looking at an existing one, and I trusted it enough to run in production internally for a small team (and it turned out to work well for us).
Edit: Be sure to get a real certificate (startssl is fine), if you intend to use s2s. During the past year or two, most public servers has started to care.
It's a port of eJabberd and brings it up to ErlangOTP standards.
I don't recommend ejabberd, unless perhaps you need to cluster. It consumes a lot of memory, which is undesirable on a VPS, and once I managed to get an ejabberd server into such a weird state that it required dropping to its REPL and writing Erlang to fix it (fortunately I have a friend who knows Erlang)!
Disclaimer:- I personally work on chat server and personally prefer moongooseim to be one of the best available right now.
I also had the pleasure working with ProcessOne via the Business edition ejabberd support, as well as commissioning them to build few custom modules that would have taken my C++(embedded team)/C#(back-end team) centric team much more time and money to build ourselves. So ejabberd is a great way to both get your feet wet(open source community version), then scale up in a big way with professional support(commercially licensed business version) should it be needed.
Note: I am not affiliated with ProcessOne in any way. Just had a pleasant experience working with them, and greatly enjoy their product.
I'll have to take a look at prosody.
1- Tigase 2- Jabbered 23- Openfire
I have also heard of Ejabbered a lot but that is in erlang ( which i don't like )My top priority is always Tigase ( the only bad thing about it is you really need to dig into it to manage because there isn't lots of support available in term of blogs tutorials etc)Hope it will help you in choosing your preferred one ....
For ex, if I switch from 3G to Wifi on my mobile (or just loose connectivity) the server still thinks I'm online and will send messages over the TCP socket (that hasn't timeouted yet).
Check your score on xmpp.net if you haven't already. ;)
 http://www.getvines.org/ https://github.com/negativecode/vines
used it on an old project. written in JAVA, not my favorite, but super easy to use and highly extensible.
No, since you can always start your own company and make yourself CEO.
Assuming you legitimately do have the skills, temperament, patience, $WHATEVER, you can literally go as high as you want. That is not, of course, to suggest that it is easy. I know, I went this route myself, and I can definitely attest that it isn't easy.
Also, have developers without a degree been able to transition into technical, product, or business leadership roles?
I think some guy named Bill Gates did OK for himself. And some dude named Zuckerberg...
I usually start really small, and add features/refactor as I learn more.
- Code snippets/tasks manager. Pure CRUD. If you want to get yourself dirty: add authentication.
- A blog (like SEJeff suggested). If you want to get yourself dirty: try to make it multilingual with SEO.
- Syllabication app. Helps me to find how business logic is best placed into app mindset.
I have to go, but if you need more examples just say! :)
Offers flooded in during that final week. People who otherwise take 3 weeks to make a decision hurried up and made their offers within days. I actually ended up accepting an offer that came in about 24 hours before my deadline.
As you wrap your head around 'what is happening' as you put it, you can start to combine what you see to make new creations of your own.
For the basic timeline of when things happen, research how a website is rendered. Here's some info to get you started:http://frontendbabel.info/articles/webpage-rendering-101/
But I upvote comments selectively. I do this to try and ensure that my vote helps to get really good quality comments on top of the page. Of course, sometimes controversial comments get a lot of upvotes. I also upvote helpful comments including when someone adds a clickable link to a Show HN in comments etc. If I learn something new with a comment, I upvote it. I sometimes upvote comments that have been downvoted incorrectly.
I seldom downvote but when I do, those comments are one or more of these:
1) Blatant hate speech, personal attacks, racist remarks, sexist remarks etc. For these type of comments, I just downvote with no comments.
2) Irrelevant comment that has nothing to do with the topic being discussed. Comment that adds no value really and distracts from the main topic. For example, someone commenting like "NSA is coming for you" in a topic about "privacy" etc. Again, I don't add any comments for the downvote for these.
3) Factually incorrect information added as a comment. Sometimes, the commenter might not even know that they are providing false information while sometimes they don't care. In either case, I downvote those comments not because I am trying to prove them wrong but because incorrect information should be marked as such. But be careful with this. I said "factually incorrect" and not "opinionated". For these though, I always try to add a comment with an explanation.
4) Criticism that is not constructive. It is easy to say "you are so wrong" or "Why do we need another site builder" etc but it takes more to write a comment explaining how somone could have done something better.
It is tempting to hit the downvote arrow for things that you "disagree" with and I am sure most of us have been guilty of this (I have been) but we should watch out for this temptation.
Kind of related: Did HN happen to change the way the site responds to votes recently? It seems that it was possible to see the effect of a vote immediately by reloading the page up until a couple of weeks ago. Either they have changed something (a new CDN, score blurring as on reddit), or I have somehow lost my comment voting powers. Perhaps its because my avgage score has dropped below 1 lately?
As for articles, I upvote anything that I think has had an impact on me, however minor. Usually it's articles that actually made me think for a few minutes, but sometimes it's also serious lessons I learn.
"I think it's ok to use the up and down arrows to express agreement. Obviously the uparrows aren't only for applauding politeness, so it seems reasonable that the downarrows aren't only for booing rudeness."
I upvote anything that piques my interest, intrigues me, expresses well what I thought myself, expresses well a thought completely counter to mine (which often means it is the first two things listed as well), and I often upvote downvoted items; the first paragraph implies why.
Downvotes are carefully considered. Probably less than one a week. I reserve them only for comments that are either actively hostile to the community or demonstrably false. Even then, I think about it two or three times before clicking.
I flag articles every so often, usually political rants and such. As far as I am concerned, the purpose of an article being posted to HN is so an interesting discussion can follow it: if the article is not going to generate a worthwhile discussion (which political articles don't) then there's no reason for it to be on the site.
For comments, mostly I upvote grey comments that I don't think deserved downvotes. Rarely do I upvote comments that are already at the top of the discussion -- they don't need more help. I upvote other comments too if I like them, I suppose.
I probably do use downvoting as just a "disagree" button too much though. But I figure posting an arguing reply just adds more noise to the discussion; it's better to just downvote and move on.
 I like how I refer to Slashdot in the past tense here.
I also upvote stories I think that would interest others.
I rarely upvote or downvote comments.
I upvote comments when they raise an interesting point that I hadn't though of before (even if I disagree) in an intelligent way. I rarely upvote just because I agree with something, and I never downvote out of disagreement.
I only downvote when the poster clearly has no idea what they are talking about it. (Or is just being pedantic and critical to no apparent benefit).
I don't like down voting for disagreeing, but I tend to down vote when something is factually inaccurate. I'll upvote stuff I disagree with as long as it is well written. Cannot really have a discussion without different points of view.
The reasoning is that doing so does everything in my (limited) power to maximize the number of people taking part in the discussion I'm about to enter.
For comments: I try to upvote ones that contribute to the discussion, but to be honest I do catch myself using it as an "I agree" button from time to time. My goal is to promote a high level of discourse, especially on both sides of controversial issues.
I don't have enough reputation to have downvote powers yet, but when I get there I plan to use it sparingly. Codegeek's approach to downvoting (sibling to my comment) strikes me as a model to aspire to.
I downvote stupid posts and obnoxious posts. I upvote interesting posts and posts that make me think. I see a lot more of the former than the later, the last few weeks...
I also tend to downvote any post sticking up at the top that doesn't seem highly worthwhile. Kind of like that recent reposting of the Fogus list of papers every programmer should read, where the top-rated comment was by a guy who complained about the title and indicated he hadn't even read the article.
I upvote comments that speaks the truth and not the politically correct thing to please the HN crowd.
I sometimes upvote comments that have merit but I know will be massively downvoted (any criticism of PHP falls in this category ;-)
I also upvote articles in 'new' that I've commented on so they're more likely to hit the front page and get my comments votes. I have no idea if it works but it makes me happy.
Comments: I upvote comments that teach me something I didn't know, or which are particularly good rebuttals to parents, or if I came to say the same thing. I downvote intolerance (of people, ideas, languages, etc.) and poorly thought out/obviously flawed assertions.
I upvote comments that I think are strong contributions to the discussion. Simple enough. HN has enough quality participants that I often find several comments per article to upvote.
I tend to save my downvotes for comments that are overly snarky or pedantic, as I think we see a bit too many of those sorts of comments on HN, and I reward them with downvotes.
I upvote articles I find to be interesting reads, articles worth significant discussion on subject matter (tech or non-tech related - does not even have to be math/science/engineering related), or comments to counter bad downvoting. I also will upvote comments I like due to thoroughness, even if I disagree with the argument(s) made.
upvote what I value and want to see more of on HN (this often includes substantive, well-presented comments that I disagree with.)
downvote what I find to be a waste of time and want to see less of on HN (this specifically does not include material that is well-presented, seems topical for HN's stated focus, but that is just not particularly interesting to me.)
I don't have enough points (263) to downvote. I should probably engage more.
(I logged in to upvote the Schwab post. This comment was secondary.)
Oh, and I upvote submissions that I like, and also submissions that I want to see more discussion around, even though I might not like the submission.
There's also the great You Don't Know JS series that takes really deep dives into various parts of the language.
- Change the heading font to something sans-serif, it feels very default, and look at typographic hierarchy, all those fonts are white and make it look a bit of a wall-of-text.
- Safari hasn't looked like that for a long time, get some up-to-date screenshots, your making your product look outdated already.
- Two screenshots one over the other is making the page needlessly long, use a carousel or similar so you have just have one that you can scroll side to side.
- You want people to sign up but the box is buried down the bottom of the page, work out a way to get that raised up.
- The pricing plan structure feels a bit empty, if you're not offering more functionality for more money, try and make the higher end ones more persuasive by doing something like indicating what kind of savings you're getting by choosing a more expensive plan.
So glad to see someone finally made one for PayPal, but without support for other payment systems, I don't see it being able to compete with what's out there. This would only be useful for a company accepting payments from JUST PayPal, which as others have pointed out is probably a rare case these days.
ChartMogul claims to be working on PayPal support, so hopefully that will come through. In the meantime, I still think there's a huge hole in this market for supporting PayPal + other services.
Buffer is great, too, because it's easy to share things I've already read. Haven't been using it lately, but I was paying for a subscription for a while.
The issue with agency social media I imagine many people have is that it's a great way to be visible, but social media doesn't track well to ROI. People are "too busy" because they don't see immediate benefit of actively maintaining social media channels beyond exposure. Social media for agencies is a matter of deep not wide.
We publish fairly regularly on our blog, so anytime we post something new, we schedule it in Buffer at the same time (using this schedule: http://cl.ly/image/3J1V3Q25242I)
Simple to use and worth a try. :)
It does seem like the investment requirements might be a bit tough (50.000 pounds, disposable), but at least they allow them to be applied to the entire team.
I think the "impossible" part is:
"You can apply if your investment funds come from one or more of the following:
a venture capital firm registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
a UK entrepreneurial seed funding competition endorsed by UKTI
a UK government department making funds available for the purpose of setting up or expanding a UK business"
I might be up for this, some quick examples of my work:-
I also happen to be a programmer.. StackOverflow profile: http://stackoverflow.com/users/362006/salmanpk
(Yes, I am from Pakistan but I do try to strive for high quality work and an atheist so rather unlikely to blow you up :P)
Get in touch if this sounds good, the SO profile has my email :)
That's one of the reasons I absolutely loathe open office plans. Open office plans are designed with the values of communication and cooperation in mind, but completely ignore that the reality of development work is usually all about how much information you can keep track of while working. If I have to rethink what I am doing every fifteen minutes because two coworkers nearby are taking a foosball break, then I am not being as productive as I can be. Open floor plans are a terrible idea, choosing to save money on real estate at the expense of quality of the resulting software. I've started using it as a sign of a place I would prefer not to work, though with the pervasiveness of this pernicious insult to developer productivity I highly doubt I'll be able to make it a serious filter on any kind of job search since everyone and their misguided brother feels like it's a good way to enhance development team dynamics.
IMHO the best blend of templating and 2-way-binding (and other fanciness) is probably ember.js.
But seriously: When you're getting started you're going to have a hard time getting noticed... getting anybody to check out your webpage or look at your code or respond to your pull requests. If they do look and give feedback then that's an opportunity to learn. Maximize your chances of getting these opportunities by putting yourself out there. It's an investment in your future.
I agree that the memory is basically never ending now, but you also have to realize most people will generally only judge you on your recent abilities, not something that transpired years ago, unless it is just so egregious that it can't be ignored. And everyone had to start somewhere, which I think almost everyone gets.
Lastly, don't let fear cripple you into not doing jumping in. Do it, and when you are wrong, just admit it and move on. The tech community while sometimes judgmental and even cruel in their comments is also probably the one place that really does value contributions over mistakes. And at least in my opinion if your contributions and attitude outweigh the mistakes people are really accepting.
Everyone starts somewhere
Beginning of Amazonhttps://groups.google.com/forum/#!msg/mi.jobs/poXLCW8udK4/_G...
Larry Page asking for help while building a web crawlerhttps://groups.google.com/forum/#!msg/comp.lang.java/aSPAJO0...
Don't be afraid, everyone starts somewhere. Today you might not be the best, or tomorrow, but you will improve.
You're also placing far too much weight on your work being associated with your rep. When I was freelancing very few people actually looked at my work. Potential employers may look at your early work but the good ones will understand mistakes, especially if you can explain what you did wrong.
I think at ringcentral.com I get about 50% off by paying a full year in advance.
What your customers want from you is a creditor they can take advantage of. Otherwise why wouldn't they just put this on their credit card?
Also, I've never used this but see: https://developer.paypal.com/webapps/developer/docs/classic/...