Engineers into Capitalists?
By mduigou on Oct 05, 2008
Why is it that so many of the people who have made a significant contribution to technology as engineers and programmers transition into being venture capitalists or business people later in their careers? I'm thinking of Bill Joy, Marc Andreessen, Bill Gates, Charles Simonyi and many others who did ground breaking work early in their careers as engineers and then left it all behind to work as businessmen. Somehow I don't think they did so because of a motivation to "get rich" as venture capitalists. There must be some attraction that escapes me. I've been coding since I was 12 years old and I can't ever imagine stopping. I don't even want to slow down! I wish I had more time to just hack code. I've met many people in the industry who didn't have the passion I do for the actual work of programming. To them programming is "just a job" and it's not surprising to me that they could easily be drawn to other roles or professions. I don't even believe that it is a bad thing that they would choose to pursue what they are good at. (I'd really prefer it if people spent more time considering what they really excel at and pursuing those opportunities rather than being mediocre at what they are doing now.) Being a great technical director, people manager, product manager, QA engineer, customer engineer or technical writer are just as noble as being a coder. Unfortunately, for me, the question of why a skilful technically minded person would choose to leave the engineering field for business remains unanswered. I got thinking about this topic again after reading about Bill Gates’ Personal Easter Eggs in 8 Bit BASIC.