good programmers

Joel on Software

Hitting the High Notes

by Joel Spolsky
Monday, July 25, 2005

In March, 2000, I launched this site with the shaky claim that most people are wrong in thinking you need an idea to make a successful software company:

The common belief is that when you’re building a software company, the goal is to find a neat idea that solves some problem which hasn’t been solved before, implement it, and make a fortune. We’ll call this the build-a-better-mousetrap belief. But the real goal for software companies should be converting capital into software that works.

For the last five years I’ve been testing that theory in the real world. The formula for the company I started with Michael Pryor in September, 2000 can be summarized in four steps:

Best Working Conditions Best Programmers Best Software Profit!

It’s a pretty convenient formula, especially since our real goal in starting Fog Creek was to create a software company where we would want to work. I made the claim, in those days, that good working conditions (or, awkwardly, “building the company where the best software developers in the world would want to work”) would lead to profits as naturally as chocolate leads to chubbiness or cartoon sex in video games leads to gangland-style shooting sprees.

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