Saturday, March 12, 2011

Do 1x Programmers keep 10x Programmers down?

A question on quora got me thinking about programmers pay.

Is it fair for a 10x programmer to get 10x pay of a 1x programmer? The short answer is no, and while this does depress the hell out of me, I get it.

Being a 10x programmer is a crock of shit to begin with. I believe it in principle that people can be 10x and even 100x more effective, but it is a signal that the 10x programmer needs to move up either into management or work on more difficult problems. I guarantee that management will slow someone down, and I guarantee that there are problems that can slow anyone down.

Now, for various reasons, a 10x programmer may be stuck with a 1x job. The solution is for management to be results-orientated, or for the employee to figure out how to work at home. This enables the results to speak for you. I'm a huge fan of the four hour work-week, and I wish I wrote about it before Tim Ferriss.

The nice thing about being results-orientated is that it turns the tables and rewards effectiveness. I value my time, so I'll be effective with it however I want.

You can be so effective that you can wear multiple hats, and if you can do this, then you must do a start-up. A start-up is hard work, and it requires everything you've got to pull it off.

Generally thou, the four hour work-week doesn't work in start-up land unless either (a) you are the boss, (b) another part of the business is slow [and you can't change it], or (c) management is ineffective [and you are not a part of it].

I'll be honest, if you are a 10x programmer, then you have to try a start-up especially if you have nothing binding you to an area. Think of it like college, and if you succeed, then you make more than 10x pay. If you fail, then you are hopefully networked with people who know you are worth 10x pay.


  1. "but it is a signal that the 10x programmer needs to move up either into management"

    Are you serious? Most good programmers are bad managers (note that I said 'most').

  2. @talonx or move on to more difficult problems. That's the key. See: