Why I Learned to Code
Code is power
I love startups. I love the startup environment - the pace, the chaos, the challenges, all of it. MP3.com and DivX were both traditional startups. They were both fully funded by major VC firms. And they both went on to successful IPOs. Here's the thing, as much as I love startups, I dislike institutionalized post-IPO corporations. But, the goal of every startup is to someday become an institutionalized corporation (or be acquired by one which is essentially the same but often worse).
So, here's the conundrum: how do you start a startup that does not either 1. Get sold (either to the public markets or a larger company) or 2. Fail (as bad as post-IPO corporations are, failure is worse) The trick is to create a company that can be meaningful and rewarding without becoming a corporation. The sweet-spot lies somewhere between a lifestyle business and a traditional startup. There are a few exemplars in this sweet-spot: craigslist, 37 signals, etc.
It became clear to me that at least part of the equation would be somehow managing to avoid taking on significant outside funding. Or at least, to avoid institutional funding. But, how on Earth do you bring a meaningful and significant product or service to market without capitalization? I've run enough large-scale web products, projects, and businesses to know that deploying them can be costly. But I also know that 65-80% of the budget always goes to product development. If I could avoid incurring that cost, then the task was at least manageable.