Apple devs have had a lot to talk about in the past couple years. The App Store has changed the landscape in significant ways. As devs, we’re constantly concerned with issues of pricing, conformance to Apple’s rules, marketing, advertising… I may post about those issues sometime in the future but not now. There’s been a bit of soul searching amongst devs lately and I think it’s important for me to step back and talk about where I’m coming from and what motivates me. What I’m finding in a lot of these discussions is that some people seem to think that the raison d’etre for doing anything commerce related is to make as much money as you can with everything else being peripheral to that. There seems to be a disconnect when talking to people about my business. Where they are talking about profits and growth, I’m thinking in terms of cool things I can add to my product.
Sure, one of my goals is to make money as I want to make a decent living but beyond a certain point, the money doesn’t interest me so much. I find the most important things in my life aren’t bought. Yes, I’m fortunate enough that I make enough now to live comfortably and I understand that that is a luxury but when I look back on my life, I fondly remember what I’ve done and the people I’ve met, not how much money I’ve made.
For me, it’s about the product. I wrote Hazel because I needed it and when I realized other people did as well, I seized the opportunity. Many of the jobs I’ve had in life were working on products that I didn’t use myself. Sure, there were interesting technical challenges and many of the jobs paid well. While at times I was passionate about the work, I was rarely passionate about the product itself. Now that I’m creating something that I do use, it’s a world of difference. Some companies have a policy where employees can work on what they want for a small percentage of their time and what a difference it makes. Now imagine if they could do that 100% of the time.
As a result, my company is just a vehicle for selling the product. I could care less about growing the company into some major concern. If I had to make the choice, I’d fold my company in a heartbeat if it meant my product would live on.
Apparently this will sound strange to a certain segment of people, but I’m also not interested in having a huge number of customers, in and of itself. I don’t really get satisfaction from people who buy the product in a promo or based on hype and don’t use it. I’m not hit-driven. I want users buying my product, not consumers. What really motivates me is when I hear about people that have been using it for years and it’s one the first things they install whenever they get a new machine. It’s when people get excited as I am about new features. It’s when users comes up with unique ways of using the product that I wouldn’t have come up with myself.
And Hazel’s not just some thing that I put out there only to move on to the next thing. I think I’ve shown that Hazel is a long term commitment for me (nearing 6 years). I intend to keep working on it until it doesn’t make sense anymore or external forces somehow shut it down. I haven’t put out any other apps besides Hazel so far, but when I do, I’ll try and make sure they are things I would use myself. I feel that scratching your own itch can’t be replaced by stock options in terms of the commitment one has to the product. And if it does come down to having to move on, I’ll try my hardest to make sure that the product can live on in some form or another.
I consider myself very lucky. Going indie has been the best career decision I’ve made and I’ve been fortunate that it has panned out for me. And I intend to stay indie. I don’t have an exit strategy and I’m not looking for a big payout. I’m doing what I want and doing it on my own terms. This is it for me and it’s how I want it to be.