The New Kingdom Builders

Today’s developers aren’t just kingmakers; thanks to blockchain, they’re building their own kingdoms.

 The New Kingmakers

"The New Kingmakers" by Stephen O'Grady is a great book explaining why the developers are the most important assets a business has. In it, Stephen explains how developers are shaping products in new ways and organizations that understand and embrace the value of this shift will be the most successful in the years to come. It shows how IT decision makers aren’t making the decisions any longer, but the developers are. They have the power to make or break businesses, whether by their experience, their talent, or their passion. The book also has quotes from the legendary CEOs (the Kings - if we keep the book analogy) quantifying developers:
  • Steve Jobs who believed that an elite talent was 25 times more valuable to Apple than an average alternative.
  • Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg saying that someone who is exceptional in their role is not just a little better than someone who is pretty good, they are 100 times better. 
  • For Bill Gates, the number is 10,000 times better, etc.
In summary, every business is a software business and the developers are the most important constituency in it. The developers can make a company great, or break it apart. Developers can help a company conquer the world and make new kings (hence - The New Kingmakers).

The New Kingdom Builders

The era of the kingmaker developers has not ended. The urge to hire the best developers continues. The quest for engaging with developers, getting the developer mind-share and acceptances continues. The open cloud, open standards, free developer tools, open patents, open source are just the latest tools in this endeavor. The fact that open source has become an ubiquitous indication of how important it is to be accepted by developers.

While I agree with the written above, I think we have come to a new era where developers can conquer the world by creating their own kingdoms. Today there is technology that allows great developers to challenge established kingdoms, to build new kingdoms, and become kings themselves. This technology is the blockchain.

Open source is a collaborative software development and distribution model that allows people with common interests produce something that no individual can create on their own. It allows best ideas to spread openly and implemented collectively. It allows great developers to express their creativity and mastery in a subject. But open source doesn't allow capturing value. Open source produces value, then a business model built separately on top of open source captures the value.

Since there is no verified photo of Satoshi,
I went with Vitalik's photo
While open source is a value creation model, blockchain is a value distribution and capturing model. Open source is a development time characteristic, whereas blockchain is the runtime characteristic of a software. Developers that can combine both (not only create but also capture the value with code) can create new kingdoms out of thin air. That is possible because the value capturing in blockchain based projects is embedded in its core, it is part of the code, rather than being a distinct model build on top of the code and allowing somebody else to monetize it. Open source unites mainly the techies in creating something new, but the blockchain model can unite investors through ICOs to support best ideas, it can unite miners (not investors, not users, but a new class of actors in this ecosystem) to run the network nodes, it can attract the final consumers who care about decentralization and transparency. Blockchain brings a closure to the end-to-end cycle of building and then running software in the open i.e. from idea stage into mass consumption.

To be precise, open source is not a prerequisite for capturing value, but it helps for its creation. Also there are other technologies similar to blockchain, such as tangle, hashgraph, etc which follow a similar distribution and value capture model. The common characteristic among all of them is the fact that value capturing and distribution is embedded in the technology itself rather than being a separate model.

Here are a few of the pioneer kingdom creators of our time:
  • Satoshi Nakamoto started wrote the Bitcoin whitepaper. After 10 years, his/her/their vision is worth over $100 billion. More importantly, that vision gave the spark for many more to follow.
  • Vitalik Buterin created the Ethereum project which is worth over $1 billion now.
  • Daniel Larimer created Steem project worth over $250 million and then created EOS that is close to $5 billion.
  • Charles Hoskinson created Cardano worth over $2 billion.
  • Jed McCaleb created Ripple and then Stellar projects, worth billions...
Clearly, the list above contains only the geniuses and visionaries of this new world. These are the Linus Torvalds of blockchain and they are the only handful. But there are many who follow them. There are many who use the platforms created by these geniuses and come up with new business models and experiment in creating their own kingdoms. Some will fail, and some will succeed. But clearly, there is a new path for developers to conquer the world and this time for real.

Follow me on twitter for other posts in this space. This post was originally published on under CC BY-SA 4.0. If you prefer, read the same post on Medium.


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