Software Executive Magazine

August/September 2017

Software Executive magazine helps software executives grow their businesses by showcasing the business best practices of our readers, executives from established and innovative software companies.

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STACKS AS RECRUITMENT TOOLS Developers are very interested in evangelizing the tech- nology they know. Many have their preferred coding languages in their Twitter bios. They have favorite tools, and working with companies that also cherish those tools is incredibly important to many of them. Your stack allows you not only to advertise your use of fa- vorite tools, it also lets you advertise your values. Many developers are committed to open-source software, and in your stack, you can show them that you are, too. Emerging open-source software is a way to recruit tal- ent. Microsoft has embraced open-source culture. They are not only transparent about the tech they are using, but they are also embracing the spirit of open source and spreading the technology that they have built. THE DEVOPS REVOLUTION Another component that a lot of developers will be looking for in your stack is an interest in DevOps, a newly emerging process for mobile application devel- opment with an emphasis on collaboration. DevOps is the cutting edge right now, and many large companies are embracing it, not only because it's incredibly effec- tive at helping you move quicker and ship software in a more efficient way, but because they know that in order to attract the best and the brightest developers, they can't be rooted in old ways. They need to be using the latest and greatest. Do you have DevOps in your stack? That's a big question that founders need to be asking themselves right now. And if you don't, what are you going to do about integrating DevOps? WHY SHARE YOUR STACK For a lot of startups and young companies, sharing their tech stacks is natural and obvious. But some older compa- nies can be skittish about it—the collection of tools they use seems proprietary, and there doesn't seem to be any gain in being open—only an opportunity to share their operating plans with the competition. But there has been a noticeable shift in recent years. Now, not only are companies getting comfortable sharing the tools they use, they are going even further, sharing their tech stacks openly and willingly as a badge of pride and a recruitment tool. Size up your stack and share it! You have nothing to lose, and everything—in- cluding the attention of top recruits—to gain. S company is started by three engineers, and they're all from the same company and know the same tools, that impacts who they hire and where they go from there. A lot of the time, a stack can reveal where the founders came from, be it from Google, Amazon, or Facebook. The tools tell a story. Your stack shows your history, it shows your capabilities—but it also shows the gaps where your company may improve. Is your stack telling the right story about your business? THE STORY IN FACEBOOK'S STACK Facebook was founded in 2004, and today it has nearly 2 billion active users uploading 300 million photos each day. The site is built on PHP, the most widely used language on the internet. But ubiquity doesn't necessarily mean pop- ularity. Many developers hate PHP! A dynamically typed language, it can be unwieldy and difficult to manage and keep bug-free, and it requires more server space than oth- er languages. The company has stuck with the language, resisting a full rewrite but creating some innovative work- arounds. For example, Facebook created HHVM (Hip Hop Virtual Machine) to run its PHP code on fewer servers and developed a new programming language called Hack that allows its team to manage code in a streamlined way, eliminating errors. So though PHP tops out Facebook's stack, developers aren't turned off, because other pieces of the stack—HHVM and Hack—show that the company has innovated by taking a "tired" language and creating some "wired" solutions. The story is in the stack. PLENTYOFFISH'S LEAN—AND PROFITABLE—STACK Potential employees aren't the only people looking at your stack—investors are, too. PlentyOfFish, the dating site, had 90 million active users but fewer than 100 em- ployees when Match Group bought it in 2015. In fact, for many years, PlentyOfFish's owner, Markus Frind, was the company's sole employee, and at the time of sale, he held sole ownership, having neither courted nor ac- cepted funding. His secret? His stack. Frind was able to build the site and keep it running on his own because he used a lean stack that required very little upkeep—just the language he wrote it in (ASP.NET) and Microsoft IIS. For monetization, he used Google Ads and kept it sim- ple—and kept the profits. When he sold the company for $575 million, he allegedly pocketed $525 million. SOLVING PROBLEMS THROUGH STACKS If you're trying to solve a problem and you're a developer, the first thing you're going to do is ask someone who had the same problem. Evaluating other companies' stacks al- lows you to quickly see how other people have solved their technology problems. For instance, Facebook's PHP prob- lems—buggy code and slow servers—are solved by Hack and HHVM. It's there in the stack. Y O N A S B E S H A W R E D is the founder and CEO of StackShare, a platform that helps developers and engineers piece together their tech stacks by showing them what tools big companies are using and why. 33 SOFTWAREEXECUTIVEMAG.COM AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017

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