I’ve spent my entire adult life working in the technology industry. But it was in 1990 that I had an epiphany that changed my life, very much for the better. That was when I accepted an offer from a tiny company with big hopes, and left the comforts and safety of a Fortune 500 giant, in my case The Polaroid Corporation, for the uncertain destiny of the classic technology startup.
Ever since then I’ve seen the focused creativity of the developers and engineers as they built new products under three competing demands. They had tasks on their plate to build out the products we were shipping, to make them incrementally better, to meet the demands of a roadmap defined by a Product Marketing organization that accepted no excuses and understood no constraints. Then there were the daily bug fixes, flowing in from support, the day-to-day work to keep our products functional and competitive, and our customers, well, if not exactly happy all the time, at least in some state short of open revolt. But on top of that was the vision – the dream that put us all together in that undistinguished concrete tilt-up building full of cubicles and snack food in Sunnyvale or Santa Clara or Milpitas in the first place. That thing we wanted to build, and the very real possibility that the entrepreneurial IPO lightening might strike US this time.
What does that have to do with Cloudshare? Well, think about it. You spend so much time head down, looking at code, trying to find the bugs, trying to add the features without breaking something fundamental, and yet so often you think about things you could do if you only had the option to pursue them. You think about trying something, but there’s no platform, there’s no place to just throw some raw code at the wall and see where it leads. Setting up a clean server or two, with the software stacks you need, just so you can spend a few hours letting your dreams and your imagination fly from the keyboard to the screen to…well, where MIGHT that lead? If only it didn’t take hours of effort and hundreds of dollars.
ProPlus is forty nine dollars a month. Five hundred bucks a year. You can set up a couple servers and upload some code. You can see how it looks, where it breaks, you can try it in different browsers, you can show it to a couple colleagues, you can mess with it in your spare time. If it all goes pear shaped, you can tear it down and start over. There’s no limit to what you can do, and no cost to failure. This is what they meant the first time they said “iterative development”. They just didn’t have the tools. But now you do.
There’s a lot of future left for us to invent. Sometimes we just need a sandbox to play in, a safe place we can’t break, servers we can beat on, some kind of platform built to let us chase the dream. Think about it. You won’t always be doing what you do today. You’re going to be a part of the future one way or another – you might as well invent something…