Saturday, October 15, 2011

The bubble is back!

I think that this article is mostly rot and rubbish, but it's getting a bit of attention on the Netz right now, particularly because of
I recently had a sit-down chat with Ping Li, a venture capitalist at Accel Partners who does investments across the layers of the cloud stack. Over the course of our conversation, Ping expressed frustration about the difficulty of hiring and maintaining talent right now. “It’s this heated funding environment,” he said, going on to explain that all of the money sloshing around in the Valley had created a market for talent that’s just as tight as it was during the dotcom boom. What’s worse, he explained, is that the talent shortage is stifling fundamental innovation in the cloud space.

Sour grapes, I'd say.

Though it's definitely true that if Google continues adding 800 new employees a month, that will create a significant competition for employees.

However, the article goes on to say things like:

We’re written in Ruby and hosted on Heroku, a pair of technical decisions that we made so that we could easily and painlessly scale, and so that we wouldn’t have to waste resources on any sort of sysadmin work. Back in the depth of the last downturn, we were fortunate to have found a team of contract developers ...

This is the sort of rot and rubbish that drives good engineers crazy. Sure, Heroku is super-trendy and just the bee's knees right now, but any entrepreneur with any sense ought to understand that smart engineers have the ability to learn all sorts of different technologies, and make technology transitions all the time.

None of us emerged from the womb with five year's experience in iOS application design, after all :)

It's simple: if you hire for buzzwords, you get people who have learned how to shape their career around buzzwords: shallow thinkers who are adept at jumping on board the latest trend and can market themselves as experts in whatever new gewgaw is flitting about.

If you hire for intelligence, adaptability, communication skills, ability to think abstractly, experience working in a team, and, of course most important of all, whether they Get Things Done, you're building a team that matters, will last, and will actually succeed in making something new.

So I'm neither the slighest bit surprised nor the slighest bit sympathetic that the business leaders that haven't learned these lessons are failing. There's a reason that those lessons are important; it's because if you don't understand them and realize why they matter, you too will find yourself whining that " top engineers are being enticed with truckloads of money to break off and form two- and three-person startups," and not comprehending what's really wrong with your company and your hiring and retention practices.

Sorry about the mini-rant, but when I see buzzword-driven headhunters bemoaning the scarcity of some trendy technology fad or another, I know that what I'm reading is not a serious discussion about whether or not our education system is encouraging the sort of academic disciplines which lead to long-term systems thinkers who can work effectively in a world of constantly changing technology, but rather is a self-serving attention grab to pump up their own visibility by getting their name in the paper.

Now, we've spent too much time on that particular article :)

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