Eric Sink on the Business of Software

Eric Sink

Publisher: Apress, 2006, 301 pages

ISBN: 1-59059-623-4

Last modified: Nov. 16, 2007, 11:45 p.m.

This is for developers who want to be coding entrepreneurs and know more about the business side of things

Eric Sink on the Business of Software is for developers who want to be coding entrepreneurs and know more about the business side of things. It is written specifically for geeks by a geek.

These days, the Internet has made starting a software company easier than ever. As more geeks become dissatisfied with working for "The Man", they find themselves venturing out to start their own software companies. Then comes the shock: There is more to running a software house than the code. A lot more:

  • Marketing
  • Accounting
  • Hiring
  • Strategy
  • Pricing
  • Sales

As a programmer who has bridged the gap from the technical side to the business side, Eric is uniquely qualified to help you follow the same path to achieve your entrepreneurial goals.

Once upon a time, Eric worked at Spyglass, where he led the group that developed the Web browser later to become known as Internet Explorer. In 1997, Eric left Spyglass and founded SourceGear, which is now a leading vendor of version control tools. In 2002, SourceGear was honored by Inc. magazine as one of the 500 fastest-growing private companies in America.

Founding and growing a software company has forced him to learn the business side of things. He still writes code, but he also leads the marketing effort and along the way has worked in every other area of the company.

This book collects and expands upon articles from Eric's popular weblog. You will find stories of his successes and failures across eight rich years of managing a self-funded software product company. Always his goal is to talk to you about the business of software and how to get where you want.

  • Part One: Entrepreneurship
    • One: What Is a Small ISV?
    • Two: Whining by a Barrel of Rocks
    • Three: Starting Your Own Company
    • Four: Finance for Geeks
    • Five: Exploring Micro-ISVs
    • Six: First Report from My Micro-ISV
    • Seven: Make More Mistakes
  • Part Two:
    • Eight: Small ISVs: You Need Developers, Not Programmers
    • Nine: Geeks Rule and MBAs Drool
    • Ten: Hazards of Hiring
    • Eleven: Great Hackers != Great Hire
    • Twelve: My Comments on "Hitting the Higfh Notes"
    • Thirteen: Career Calculus
  • Part Three: Marketing
    • Fourteen: Finding a Product Idea for Your Micr-ISV
    • Fifteen: Marketing Is Not a Post-processing Step
    • Sixteen: Choose Your Competition
    • Seventeen: Act Your Age
    • Eighteen: Geek Gauntlets
    • Nineteen: Be Careful Where You Build
    • Twenty: The Game Is Afoot
    • Twenty-One: Going to a Trade Show
    • Twenty-Two: Magazine Advertizing Guide for Small ISVs
  • Part Four: Sales
    • Twenty-Three: Tenets of Transparency
    • Twenty-Four: Product Pricing Primer
    • Twenty-Five: Closing the Gap, Part 1
    • Twenty-Six: Clsoing the Gap, Part 2
    • Epilogue: Just Do It

Reviews

Eric Sink on the Business of Software

Reviewed by Roland Buresund

Disappointing *** (3 out of 10)

Last modified: Nov. 17, 2007, 6:11 p.m.

Why bother?

I had high hopes, when I picked up this book, as I am a programmer who turned MBA. Unfortunately, these hopes were quickly reduced to near zero.

The book purports to be a guide for IT developers about the world of business. But I can assure you, that most of the rubbish in this book , the author has gleamed by his limited readings of a few business authors. This, combined with a total lack of experience of anything remotely connected to the real business world outside of his own company, explains his strange writings and the image of reading a children's book.

All the traditional IT geek values and misconceptions are adhered to, and only stuff that can be modified to fit into this form is present in this collection of blog entries. For example, he manages to talk about hiring as the only worthy HR issue, and totally forgets what to do with his people when he has hired them (no problem in a small micro-ISV, where the CEO knows everybody by their first name, but a recipe for catastrophe in a larger company). He confuses the current criticism about long-range planning (aka 5-10 year plans) and draws from this, the conclusion that planning is non-desirable… I can only advice him to grow up.

I could go on, but I can assure you that Alice in Wonderland or any book about Pippi Longstocking can give you as relevant and good advice as this book, with a bit of interpretation. Of course, everything he says isn't wrong, but enough of it is, to make this a dangerous reading for any aspiring entrepreneur. It is better to get some basic Marketing/Strategy/HR/Accounting books/courses under your skin (nobody promised you that the business world was easy), and then get out in the world and probably make a better success than Mr. Sink.

In his favor, I can vouch for that he is a pretty enjoyable writer, as long as you don't know the subject he writes about.

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