From plunging share performance to a recent sloughing of some two million users, Twitter has gone from Silicon Valley A-lister to proverbial canary in the coal mine. For some time now, various pundits have been issuing increasingly stark warnings about a swelling tech bubble. And, as Dorsey and Co. struggle to grapple back the faith of investors (an uphill battle when your own users are trending your demise – #RIPTWITTER), you can almost smell the tang of Unicorn blood in the air.
With the average developer aged around 28, a large swathe of the tech workforce may not remember much about the dot-com disaster of the early 2000s. But many investors do – and they’re well prepared for a tech bubble burst 2.0. Thanks to the lessons of the past (and some well thought out new legislation for when companies can push to IPO), in general, the people holding the purse strings are far less exposed to any collapse.
But whilst Wall Street is relatively safe compared to where it sat in the early 2000s, what about the developers keeping these billion dollar companies ticking?
View from the trenches
Having been in the tech game for over 30 years, CTO of C24 and Incept5 John Davies is cautiously optimistic in this respect. On the topic of Apple and Twitter, he notes that, whilst the two may not be pulling as big a profit as they have in previous quarters, in these days of profit warnings and plunging share prices, Apple has still pulled in a modest few dozens of billion of dollars – far beyond the scope of most companies on the planet. Where the “reality check” may hit is for largely California-centric venture capitalist funded organisations.
Fuelled by a heady cocktail of FOMO (fear of missing out) and wild hype, in the aftermath of the credit crunch, venture capitalists have been spewing “silly” money at new startups and technologies which, more often than not, have yet to raise enough to fund a solitary round of craft beer. In particular, Davies highlights former big data ingénue du jour Hadoop – which is rapidly losing mindshare to Spark – as an example of this mentality.
Combined with unease elsewhere in the global economy, and even predictions of another recession on the horizon, all this could add up to a stark cultural shift for Silicon Valley.
However, Davies remains pragmatic. “Having worked in IT for more than half my life, I can say I’ve seen this happen already in the early 2000s…and in the early 90s and late 80s…and we also saw a fairly monumental crash in 2008. In every case, things changed. The ones that will survive are the ones that adapt.” Will things change in the industry? Yes they will – just as they have in the past. The one uncertain variable is what the outcome will be this time around.
Time for polyglots to shine
His survival tips for developers? Be poised to take new paths. Following the example of contemporary venture capitalists, spread your personal reserves across multiple options and invest in yourself. There’s never been a better time to work on becoming a full polyglot – especially if you’ve spent the past few years specialising in blockchain technologies or other flagging tech boom 2.0 crazes.
Even if BitCoin’s moment in the sun is over, the main core technologies are always going to be there – as Davies comments, “it would be a strange planet if we lost finance, security and the like.” jClarity CEO Martijn Verburg reiterates this sentiment, adding, “It’s going to be fine for developers – a few Silicon Valley based companies will implode but those engineers will find work again soon enough.”
Whilst the time where you could raise tens of millions on the back of a world-changing-disruptive-and-extraordinarily-inane app for licking the back of an envelope may be drawing to a close, the need for developers will remain steady. As Davies puts it, “Developers will stay king because tech is changing the world, and will continue to do so.”