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You Don't Need To Be An Engineering Genius To Start A Billion Dollar Company

You Don t Need To Be An Engineering Genius To Start A Billion Dollar Company ReadWrite


Nearly 10 years ago, Excite founder Joe Kraus, now an investor at Google Ventures, declared "there has never been a better time to be an entrepreneur." Kraus was talking about the economics of startups—the cheapness of servers, networks, and other raw ingredients of computing.

A decade later, Andreessen Horowitz investor Sam Gerstenzang has one-upped Kraus. In a recent blog post, he argues that it's not just costs that are at historic lows. So, too, is the level of competence required to engineer a product.

In other words, even an engineering nobody can start a company.

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I don't care for this conclusion, that experience and skill writing software become less important:

Whatsapp had 450 million monthly users and just 32 engineers when it was acquired. Imgur scaled to over 40 billion monthly image views with just seven engineers. Instagram had 30 million users and just 13 engineers when it was acquired for $1 billion dollars.

This is the new normal: fewer engineers and dollars to ship code to more users than ever before. The potential impact of the lone software engineer is soaring. How long before we have a billion-dollar acquisition offer for a one-engineer startup? How long before the role of an engineer, artisanally crafting custom solutions, vanishes altogether?

As the leverage of the individual software engineer increases, the barriers to becoming a code creator are falling fast. The same software foundation (open source software, development tools like Github, infrastructure as a service provided by the likes of Digital Ocean, and more) that allowed Whatsapp and Imgur to scale, means that experience and skill writing software become less important.

How many WhatsApps and Imgurs are there, really?

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