Talent Acquisitions Are Not The Problem

I do not think there was a way to miss it if you used the Internet the last 24 hours. Sparrow, an iOS and OSX mail client was acquired by Google. There is a lot of rage - a hugh fan and user base now sees their favorite mail client passing away. But what exactly is the problem? And can we solve it?

Sparrow users could have some luck if you trust the announcement. So do not take this post as a rant about the Sparrow acquisition but more as a general opinion and a suggestion for a possible solution.

Most of the time small companies and startups which are acquired by Google, Facebook, Twitter or whatever big player just die. They do not have any interest in letting the product exist. They want talent. And they pay more money than most of those companies would make the next one or two years. It is a great deal for most of the people involved.

Now before you start telling me how wrong I am let me give you two exceptions. I know that Instagram is still alive. I am also aware of the fact that there are people who love working for startups but hate big corporations and are not happy if the "company" is sold.

I said it is a great deal. Some people are only starting a project or product and hope to sell out. And there is nothing wrong with it. They want to make money or create a new way for their career. There is absolutely no reason to be angry or mad about it. At the end of the day they have to do what is best for themselves and their families.

Up to this point it sounds like I do not see the problem most people have. Those startups create products and services. No matter if you pay for it or not - if you paid, it is even more problematic - if you believe the software or service is the best one that exists and you see that it is shut down because $bigPlayer thought that they need more people, it sucks. You have to look for alternatives, move your data,… I do not think I have to elaborate this. We all know the problems.

Some people argue that you just have to pay more for everything so they have a valuable business. It does not work this way. Of course if you pay for the software or service you are using, it is less likely that the startup will agree to be bought. But there will always be some of them that believe it would be better or more profitable if they just sell everything. Nothing will change. Maybe Google and Facebook have to pay a bit more to make the acquisition attractive.

There is one point I do not see discussed. Sometimes it is mentioned but it does not get the same attention as "pay for it". I will not go to deep into details since I did not finish the discussion with my lawyer how we will set it up but I think I should be able to give you some details the next few weeks.

I run my own business and I will release my first application the next few months. Maybe no one will actually buy it. Maybe a lot of people will. I am not sure but it also does not matter since I do not depend on the sales and I do it just because I want to.

Even if I cannot imagine doing something else than running my own business - basically because I never did something else - it could be possible that I get the one job offer I would accept. (hint Apple) Or I just die. Everything is possible.

If my company would be acquired and if it would be a talent, not a product, acquisition my application will automatically be BSD licensed. If there is a user base who loves the application there will be an open source developer who works on it or a company who thinks it can make money with it. At least I hope so.

This is not working for services. They could release the source code and it would help a lot but at the same time it would introduce problems. Imagine we have 50 Twitters. (what is the plural of Twitter?) Which one do you join? Will they stay API compatible? Okay, Twitter and APIs are not the best example but I think you get my point.

Talent acquisitions are not the problem. The problem is that the software fades from the market. And this can be prevented. We, if I am allowed to include myself yet, just have to make sure it stays available for further development if we cannot manage it anymore. Does it take a bit of extra work? Definitely. Is it the right thing to do for our users? Definitely.

>> posted on July 21, 2012, midnight in business, software engineering