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QA: Consultant or Employee

Over my iOS developer career so far I’ve had several people ask me in one way or the other if and how I would want to work for them. This includes several international corporations, though I’d prefer to not name names. The range of such questions ranged from asked if I wanted to join a specific team all the way to an acquisition-hire.

Just this morning I found this email in my inbox:

Oliver, would you prefer to be “consultant” or part of a team. Here is our vision, its [...]

I had begun to compose a lengthy e-mail, but my efficiency sense tingles when I pass a certain threshold. So I figure I want to document my thoughts on this question for future generations and interested readers.

Sorry, dear person whom I quoted there, but you’ll get a much more elaborate answer this way. I prefer to be public and transparent about my goals and wishes.

My Personal Priorities

From my gut, with a grain of thought, this is what I want:

  • not having to relocate, the maximum I would accept is having to spend a month or two on-site
  • working on uncommon or new technologies related to the Apple eco-system
  • work on products that I own (at least a minimum stake in), to reap residual income
  • … or to bootstrap said products by working as a contracting consultant
  • where possible get a retainer deal, if not work at a premium hourly rate
  • own a great office for my team and a few other one or two person companies in a co-working-space scenario
  • grow my team with local talent (or talent that is willing to relocate to Austria), fixed staff and interns
  • … with a particular focus on female developers

I didn’t put on this list several items that I note in the “nice to have” column. Things like being able to attend a couple of tech conferences per year and be able to bring other team members. Having a fitness room in my next office with several treadmills to work out while watching development conference videos. Having a better internet connection. Having a scholarship program where I am funding people to come and work with us as intern and maybe sign up as Junior Developers.

Teach and Tinker

I derive the most pleasure from teaching and tinkering. From my output in DTFoundation you can see the kind of code I like to be working on the most. Also if you follow my blog you see that I have many diverse things going on in parallel.

My whole business really started with Michael Kaye asking me to create a charting view for his app Baby Bubbles. He didn’t have a large budget to fund the development so I had the idea then to build it as a component that I would be able to sell. This way the people who would purchase it would share in the development costs. This became DTChartView which was the first component in my parts store. I call it “Parts Store” because I am thinking of robot spare parts that somebody can purchase and snap it into place to replace something that was broken or not working well on his robot. (whereby robot is a metaphor for apps as you might have guessed)

I’ve been making components ever since, about two dozen or so that I was selling commerical licenses for and about a dozen open source projects on GitHub. It is because of the amount of activity and my being public about it that people think I am an expert developer. Even on my components the Pareto Principle applies. A small number of components creates the lion share of my income from parts sales. Most notably DTRichTextEditor.

The Real Secret

But my real secret is: program as much and thoughtful as you can with your current skill level. And write up what you learn as if you were teaching it to somebody else. They say you need 10,000 hours to attain mastery. I’m just putting in the hours.

I am well aware that the above ideas are incompatible with most people willing to simply hire me, or buy me out, or acqu-hire me. For most app building contracting I am also not the right person.


I would do best if somebody paid me to build component for niche technology; something for which there isn’t an ample supply of open source components available yet. Or maybe find somebody who see the potential in my plans and wants to help me grow. For that unlikely case, here’s my e-mail address.

Categories: Business

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