Entrepreneurs are Dead, Long Live the Hacker


Society is moving at an unprecedented pace. A year ago I didn’t have the word “Android” in my vocabulary but now I use an Android phone every day. Entrepreneurs of yesterday have to wake up to this new world and realize that the rules have changed. Entrepreneurs suddenly, “cannot find good talent”. Meanwhile, hackers don’t need idea people when they are the idea people.

Inside the Hacker’s Mind

The job of the hacker is to turn ideas into reality and breathe life into the idea. Without the hacker, the entrepreneur (idea person) is dead — if hackers have their own ideas, they don’t need the typical “entrepreneur” and instead become one. CEO of companies like Etsy, Github and Facebook are all examples of this.

This has created such an environment that many entrepreneurs come to me and ask, “Where are all the developers, it is really hard to find good developers these days.” I am forced to tell them the brutal reality: “They don’t need you anymore since they’d usually work on their own ideas, so you better be able to prove you can close sales and have the cash on hand to hire them to work on yours.”

Hackers Thrive on Progress

The biggest way to interest a hacker beyond money is through providing opportunities to progress in skills. Hackers need progress daily (I’d also argue all of humanity feels this way, but most certainly hackers). Hackers need a project, or five, to hack on to improve their abilities. If you are a business owner, give hackers ways to experiment and own the success of ideas.

Entrepreneurs have only one option for thriving in today’s new society: become a hacker or find hackers and give them liberty to try out their ideas and progress.


  1. says

    I agree with you though I hate the label “hacker” and prefer being called programmer or software developer.

    Where I really think “idea people” can contribute to a startup in the future is their big network of potential business partners and as you say the ability to close sales or pay a good salery. “Hackers” aren’t usually very strong at the networking aspects of building a business and most of us will need help.

  2. says

    Therese: I see a hacker as someone who has found a way to do something that hasn’t been realized before. That is the essence hacking, creating, innovating…moving and pushing things forward. The word hacker does have an intrusive and somewhat negative tense, but the aggressive nature of it does apply to the digital arms race that we are in.

  3. says


    That’s funny that you prefer the label ‘programmer’ or ‘software developer’ over hacker.

    In fact, I find the labels ‘programmer’ and ‘software developer’ to be totally uncool as it implies that I’m in some stuffy corporation where you get a job title and stuff.

    In general I refer to myself as a ‘coder’ although I do so much more than just ‘code’.
    I’m cool with being called a ‘hacker’ however that word has been thrown around so many times over the past few decades it’s kinda lost it’s way.

  4. says

    As a programmer I hate the term ‘hacker’ as well. I used to like it, then media and business people killed the term and made it such a cliche.

    I honestly now just prefer to call myself a technologist, more like a philosophy of understanding how technology and business will change the world and how I fit into that model :)

  5. says

    Very insightful post! I agree with you in that hackers are now the idea people because we have learned as a whole to look away from our screens and think about solutions to real life problems. I think that the software has become progressively better so that we don’t have to spend much time to apply our solutions and more time on developing them.
    However, as Therese mentioned, hackers are good problem solvers and deductive, analytical thinkers, but don’t do so well in the networking aspect and partnership building aspect. I think part of that is due to hackers tend to have a low tolerance for bulls#!t and also hackers think their solutions should speak for themselves and business minds should be able to see the intrinsic value. I think that is changing as well.

  6. says

    I agree: Ideas are worthless. It is fun to read all of the craigslist yucks who say “I have a great idea for a website and just need someone who knows how to code to bring it to life. No Pay.”

    Many skills resources in any industry often feel the urge to “go it alone.” If they (1) have an idea that meets a need/want in the world, and are able to (2) become business managers & (3) become salespeople then they will likely succeed. I encourage everyone to try it. But also, there is no shame in working for someone else.

  7. Brett Hacker says

    I don’t have much of a choice, although I’ve been hung up on a few times by tech support as soon as I told them my name.

    And I totally agree with the premise of the article.