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Getting My Feet Wet Again…

January 05, 2012

A funny thing happens to technical founders: as the company you built takes off and a proper Engineering Team develops, you find yourself doing less and less code. You need to spend your time managing the business, recruiting new talent, setting direction for the product, prioritizing tasks, and the like.

As the percentage of time you’re spending coding drifts from to 50%, you’re surprised to note that you’re now only a quarter as effective; the context switches just kill you and the team is evolving new best practices and tools and building out the system’s complexity fast enough that it takes at least ~20% of full-time just to keep up.

Consequently, you hit the point where, even though it’s your company, your team gently asks you to stop checking code into production. There’s just no way you can make helpful contributions when only 5% of your time is spent coding – you’re using last year’s syntax, you forgot to create unit tests, you didn’t hook into the new functional test framework appropriately, and you totally horked the new Javascript minifier. You lose your commit privileges.

This has happened to nearly every technical founder I know – the only recourse I’ve seen is when, at some point, they give up managerial control and go hole up in a dark corner again to come back up to speed for a few months.

So I’ve found myself delighted to be back coding again, figuring out the state of the art for 2012, wrapping my head around jQuery, GitHub, node.js, SASS, Compass, HTML5 Boilerplate, MongoDB, and all these other things the cool kids have been playing with for the last five years while I was busy doing businessy things. 🙂

Got some pointers on what technologies I should be playing with?

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