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    I like the writing in this article, but I feel like its core message is somewhat incorrect.

    Most of the work that we do as software engineers is about scaling and efficiencies–and at scale, a lot of ideas that get funded don’t actually deliver value to customers.

    The key paragraph that kinda set me off was this:

    That last one can be counter-intuitive, but your customers are paying your company for the value your company delivers to them.

    In the real world, customers are paying for the perceived value that the company delivers to them. If you ship a bunch of extra features that they don’t think are important–even features with tangible business value to them!–they won’t pay you extra. If you create a strategic partnership that falls through and never produces a line of code but helps their image in the marketplace, you may well get a large bonus. If you strictly reskin and repackage existing software solutions they already have but you help them feel good about it, you get paid.

    Other parts strike me as really idealistic:

    In software, this isn’t the case at all. There’s no limit to what you can build, nor a cap on the value you can deliver.

    Customers often have very strong feelings about what they want, feelings that in turn do in fact put a firm cap on what sorts of value can be delivered. The number of such firms is also finite–only so many companies need logistics support, only so many companies need image processing, only so many companies need a real-time feed of kittens.

    So, if the money that pays your paycheck can be traced back to your customers… how do you justify getting paid more money?

    In a great many cases, the money that pays your paycheck doesn’t actually come from customers–at least not at a useful level different from “the money that pays your paycheck can be traced back to the Federal Reserve”! Depending on the pathologies of your organization, that money can be traced back to:

    • bosses who want higher headcounts to justify their position.
    • competitive poaching, so that if GOOG/MSFT/FB has us the other firms don’t.
    • salespeople tricking customers into buying our products. This deception is easier if the products actually meet a need, but that isn’t required.
    • from VC firms playing pyramid games.
    • from government grants that need to get spent or funding gets cut next year.
    • from grants that have to be spent to show investment in “innovation” or “modernization”.
    • from selling out users to drive advertising clicks.

    There’s a lot more going on than the simple “If you build good features for customers of course you’ll be rewarded.”