Code or Be Coded

Business Dudes are Coming for Your Code

Are programmers worth more than business types in a startup environment? (Probably.)
 Business Dudes are Coming for Your Code

Mr. Fry (twitter.com)

Remember that whole kerfuffle earlier this week, when the Internet convinced itself that if they could just learn to code that they, too, could quickly become millionaires? Yeah, we penned a screed condemning that theory, but it appears it was not enough to stem the exodus of business dudes to coding professions. Our apologies.

Spencer Fry, cofounder of online portfolio site Carbonmade, wrote a blog post today explaining why he’s taking time off from being a “business guy” to learn to code. Mr. Fry put his computer science degree on hold in order to run TypeFrag, and ended up graduating with a psychology degree instead. This has apparently always haunted Mr. Fry. “Looking back at my decision to drop Computer Science for TypeFrag, I have no regrets,” he wrote. “However, not being able to contribute directly to the building of my products often left me feeling empty.”

Now, he’s decided to put his business aspirations on hold in order to spend ten to twelve hours every single day learning to code. He’s been at it since February 1st, and we are impressed he hasn’t yet gone crazy.

Mr. Fry also argues that programmers often work harder at startups, which we’re pretty sure will unleash the wrath of Business Dudes Everywhere upon him, but he does have a point.

While being a successful Business Guy can be tremendously important for the company, and has more impact than many developers and designers acknowledge, there are times when you cannot contribute to the product as much as you’d like. In the meantime, the makers seldom have a free moment, as a product can always be improved. A new design tweak here. A refactor of code there. The Business Guy is left with an internal struggle: wanting to do all they can do for the company but knowing deep down inside that pulling out a code editor or Photoshop would often be the most helpful thing they could do — and realizing they can’t do it.

Despite the many issues relating to the “business guys vs. programmers” discussion, Mr. Fry’s commitment to learning the technical side of the startup world is quite commendable. We only hope he knows that being able to spit out a few lines of Ruby doesn’t automatically guarantee a million dollar payout.

Follow Jessica Roy on Twitter or via RSS. jroy@observer.com