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The Rise of the Developer

Aaref Hilaly

Technical innovation alone isn’t enough to transform markets and become an enduring company. You need to also change how people discover, consume and cherish your product. In short— how to bring your product to market.

There’s been lots of innovation in go-to-market strategy. SaaS (rent instead of buy enterprise software). App Stores. Hybrid consumer & enterprise companies. Freemium. and the newest innovation is what I want to talk about today. The rise of the developer.

There are only 18 million developers. That may sound like a lot, but developers represent a mere 0.25% of the global population. With half of the world online, this quarter of a percent build the products used by 3.5 billion people. The only way to support so many people is to change how we approach building software.

We are no longer rolling code by hand—bespoke, crafted from scratch and stored in a private stash. Instead, developers integrate and connect existing pieces together. We fork and adapt. Code becomes a cumulative, open-sourced effort. We are a community of developers working together.

This new way of working together has a surprising effect. It means each dev has tremendous influence on which tools get adopted. The revelation is that developers have become a critical go-to-market distribution channel.

If developers don't like a product, they won't use it. Period. No amount of pressure from a CIO can change that. Developers will always find a work-around that works better. They have no patience for code that slows them down or adds bloat.

Developers will use your product is if they believe it is the best way to get the job done. So as you are designing your product, it becomes your job to make sure that’s true. Just look to Docker, MongoDB and Stripe. Developers rule the world. If you want your product to win, become the best answer to a hard problem.

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