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Looking for Great Engineering Talent? Follow the Platform Wars

January 7, 2010


If you are in the tech business, then, like me, you probably are always on the hunt for great engineering talent.

A few months back, we had a dinner at Dogpatch Labs with a bunch of super successful entrepreneurs and brainstormed the topic of how/where to find the best talent. Someone (I can’t remember who so can’t give due credit, sorry!) made the great point that the hot new platform consistently attracts great young developers. Like flies to light, ambitious, talented young engineers frequently jump on the hot new platform to try to build and launch a new product/service/company.

Looking back over just the last couple years, it is easy to see this pattern in action. From Facebook to iPhone to Twitter, the emergence of each of these platforms gave rise to lots of projects started by super talented engineers.

So, what is the hot new platform for 2010? I have my notion — what’s yours?


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  1. January 7, 2010

    I find the opposite. I think Rails is a good example. The hype of a new, popular platform can keep many mediocre folks very busy meeting external demand, like when everyone decides they need to build an iPhone app.

    A better beacon for talented developers is not necessarily a platform, but a philosophy. YCombinator and Joel On Software are good examples of this. Sometimes these align with a platform, but usually not.

    Developers can make salaries far beyond marginal utility in many traditional industries, the grit that motivates the best ones is something you can believe in.

    • January 9, 2010

      Important clarification: Being a VC, I was talking about entrepreneur-engineers, not hire-for-salary engineers. Because new platforms open opportunities for new businesses, they attract entrepreneurs, many of whom are engineers.

  2. January 8, 2010

    I am in the middle – cool new technologies can certainly attract talent, but they don’t have to. What attracts talent is an ability to write code that does something amazing, and the *best* developers are often content doing so in Java.

    New technologies attract developers in general, across skill levels and specialties. Adobe Flex is a good example – the learning curve for it is pretty quick, so a lot of newbies can write decent apps with it, but the pros can take it to astounding heights.

    So, I think talented developers are ultimately attracted to powerful, felxible technologies that let them build unique products. Sometimes new technologies possess these traits, sometimes they don’t.

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