Developers are rapidly finding ways to put future developers out of jobs.
Much has been made about how the dropping cost of website infrastructure has spurred a boom in startup formation, with Amazon Web Services held up as the prime example. The capital cost of servers has been eliminated, but even more important is the plummeting human cost.
How the startup landscape is changing.
The knowledge of the world’s leading experts is available as an API for a fraction of their former salaries.
A decade ago, a VP of engineering at a startup might have evaluated the resumes of five solid front-end engineers. Five years ago that VP would have looked at GitHub profiles. Today, they are just as likely to evaluate a front-end framework like Ionic, Meteor or Aurelia and build it themselves.
It’s not just front-end options. We’ve seen a massive proliferation in frameworks, libraries and other tools that allow a single talented engineer to do the work of a team.
Companies and products like Heroku, Celery, RabbitMQ, Mandrill, Fastly, Chartio, Chargebee, Shipwire, Docker, Codeship, Rainforest QA, Replicated and Chartbeat have changed the nature of tech development. These are just a small subset of services that replace the work of individuals or entire teams.
In the absence of these services, startups would have to hire one or more employees to fill the role. Instead of bringing on new employees, they can empower a small team of engineers and designers to multiply their efforts.
But I Can’t Build a Startup This Way…Or Can I?
These tools have made it possible to make almost anything, fairly easily. Sure, building something as complex as Uber is going to be a challenge no matter what, but it’s unprecedented how far these tools can stretch the creator’s power.
A decade ago, building “real-time” services would have necessitated hiring one or more back-end specialists. Today, you can insert a few lines of code from Google’s Firebase and get the same effect. Front-end designers leverage JQuery in much the same way. Tasks that would have made for full-time job descriptions just a few years ago are now bullet points on a job posting.
Imagine the power of tools such as Bubble. While their tagline, “build your startup by pointing and clicking,” might not be applicable to everyone today, but within 10 years we will see at least one unicorn built without writing a single line of code.
APIs are truly democratizing startup creation. Not only will you practically need no money to get started, you won’t need any tech skills either. All you will need is a keen understanding of the user and how to take your product to market. Of course, this has major implications in terms of pace of product development, and the consequent noise in the market, but net-net it’s great for consumers. Anyone with a great idea anywhere in the world can build a billion-dollar tech company. That’s exciting!