This is a list of books currently on my To Read shelf... literally. I do not suggest or anti-suggest any of them at this time as I haven't read them yet.
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Over the weekend, Robert Scoble pointed out all the technology that Steve Jobs has killed off over the years and asked a simple question:
Which features are you getting rid of to make your product/service/store/business simpler?
As I've pondered this over the last few days, I've been looking at the various products, systems, and code I've been working on and considering what could be cut away. What things can go into the next version? And even more importantly, what aspects don't need to be in any version?
Update: Unfortunately, since writing the first version of this post, Paul Graham has released an update and clarification of his original post. Obviously, I should start blogging over the weekend and give up this whole "having a life thing". ;)
In terms of disclosure, I attended the first Startup School in Cambridge in 2005. Other than the obligatory "thanks!", I've never communicated with him and have no interest in Y Combinator, etc.
From the archives... NIck Bradbury - the creator of such software as FeedDemon - shares a story about how he deals with pirated software and the types who demand that he fixes their stolen software... I bring this up for a couple different reasons. If you are building your mISV and end up with a product that has any value at all, it's going to get pirated. If you run a consulting shop, you can run into similar problems where customers have the product but they "forget" to pay. If you're doing consulting to build a product, you get the best of both worlds!
Let's just get this out on the table. Realistically, you can't do much. You can't order a nuclear strike on their home. You can't kill their dog. And most of the time, it's difficult - if not impossible - to take any action against them at all.
In the past few years since CaseySoftware was founded, I've had the opportunity to work with companies ranging from small one-man shops just getting off the ground to numerous Fortune 500 companies. We've provided project management support, tools, and quite a bit of custom development. During this time, I've never portrayed CaseySoftware as an "internet strategy" or "marketing communications" company and never tried to. We have the technical skills and the deep community experience and instead, I've had the opportunity to work with numerous companies who have... unfortunately, I've noticed a common thread.
It's the bane of every mISV's existance but at the same time, it's what keeps us moving. It's a way of keeping score and to know if we're doing things right, but at the same time, it keeps us up at night and haunts our dreams. It all comes down to one thing: Money.
Most mISV founders won't explicitly tell you that the money is a key. In fact, if you ask them "why did you start your business?", they'll tell you about having a better life schedule, getting out of a deadend job (my primary motivator), doing something better, working for personal satisfaction, etc. The Money aspect will either not be in the list at all or will be so far down that it doesn't seem to matter. Let me say this once very clearly for all to see: They're lying.
Nothing included in this post should be construed as anything remotely resembling legal advice. I am not a lawyer, CaseySoftware does not provide legal consultation, and your decisions must be based on your specific sitatuation.
The last time I wrote about legal issues with a mISV, I wrote specifically about some of the differences between license and copyright and some of the related issues to be aware of. Recently, I realized that I missed a completely different and much more important aspect of the whole process...
Who owns your project?
Alright, so you develop a program from the ground up and write every line of code yourself. You didn't delve in to look at the to the internals of a GPL project, you didn't sort through your code from work, you didn't even copy and paste from some dark corner of the Interweb. So the answer is simple, right? You own your code!