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Do Tech Entrepreneurs Need To Know How To Code?

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the what-servants-are-for dept.

Businesses 202

An anonymous reader writes "Learning to write code has become something of a trendy thing to do. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said he intends to learn code this year. Estonia has recently announced a scheme with the aim of getting every 6-year-old in the Baltic state to learn programming skills. The demand has spawned a number of start-ups offering coding lessons. General Assembly, which teaches off-line courses, has recently opened up in London and is recruiting ahead of a launch in Berlin. On-line education site Codecademy landed $10 million to expand from its home base in New York. Zach Simms, the 22-year-old co-founder, said in an earlier interview with The Wall Street Journal that not everyone has to learn to code, but everybody 'needs to learn the notions of algorithms, realizing what you can use code for.' But do they?"

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Betteridge's Law of Headlines says... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41250587)


That's THE Best ANSEWER! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41251269)

Code is JUST syntax. Period.

Algorithms are a different matter.

The high level plan and architecture are the most important things to make anything work, Coding is just grunt work. Many many businesses have thrived on that model - so don't immediately slam me. Apple is one of them.

"-1" Indeed.

Ya know, I went through some real intensive CS programs. And never -ever - did languages or IDEs or editors - ever come up. To argue about any of those is like a carpenter arguing who makes the best framing hammer - while the architect says "whatever- just build it" . Although, the Yale school of architecture does have their students actually build their shit - they're swinging hammers, baby!

Re:That's THE Best ANSEWER! (4, Insightful)

donscarletti (569232) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251629)

Code is just syntax. Syntax that you use to feed your ideas into your compiler. Then you will start it and it probably won't run.

Code teaches you something important. An idea that doesn't work is bullshit. You can't blame anyone else, you just need to fix it and make it do the right thing.

Anyone who hasn't experienced this is not ready to be a member of a team and certainly not a leader.

"Best framing hammer" vs. "a hammer" (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251799)

It helps to be able to tell the difference between a claw hammer and a screwdriver. Yes, you can hammer with a screwdriver, but it's so sub-optimal that it's not even funny. Heck, if you are careful with the claw end and you have all day and enjoy torturing yourself, you might even be able to use it as a screwdriver.

Similarly, it helps to know that a special-purpose language optimized for a particular type of problem is frequently superior to a general-purpose language for the task it was designed for, even if on a theoretical level both languages are general-purpose languages and either one can be used to implement any algorithm that the other one can. It's also very important to know that using the special-purpose language for other tasks is very likely to be very inefficient in some way or other.

Re:"Best framing hammer" vs. "a hammer" (3, Funny)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 2 years ago | (#41252051)

Fuck you, screwdrivers are the best!

Re:That's THE Best ANSEWER! (1)

Georules (655379) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251969)

You took a CS program that spoke nothing of languages? Not even mathematics? You completed a worthless CS program.

We need more DEVELOPERS! (2)

Mr. Visual (2724357) | more than 2 years ago | (#41250601)

Coders are the pillar of our industry. We need more of them. Here, get Visual Studio [] and start coding today!

Re:We need more DEVELOPERS! (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41250637)

I feel like all of /. is about to break out into a chant of "developers, developers, developers!" ....

Any second now, just wait for it...

Re:We need more DEVELOPERS! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41251057)

Somebody bolt down the chairs!

Re:We need more DEVELOPERS! (5, Funny)

History's Coming To (1059484) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251561)

or vagina...

Re:We need more DEVELOPERS! (3, Funny)

Genda (560240) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251773)

Please do not bolt down the vagina...

Re:We need more DEVELOPERS! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41251739)

Code Monkeys, Code Monkeys, Code Monkeys, Code Monkeys!

(ok, I'm a dissident sect)

Re:We need more DEVELOPERS! (4, Insightful)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 2 years ago | (#41250827)

Coders are the pillar of our industry. We need more of them. Here, get Visual Studio [] and start coding today!

Knowing how to code does not a developer make.

Re:We need more DEVELOPERS! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41250885)

True, but you're sort of missing the point. Learning to code is the first step towards becoming a developer.

Re:We need more DEVELOPERS! (4, Insightful)

Crudely_Indecent (739699) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251047)

I disagree.... It begins much earlier than that. For me, it started with Lego and Erector sets.

Development is my adult version of Lego. The main difference being that with Lego, you must to plan for the pieces you have - with development - you just make the pieces you don't have.

Of course, I still play with Lego.

Re:We need more DEVELOPERS! (4, Insightful)

multicoregeneral (2618207) | more than 2 years ago | (#41250967)

I think more developers should get their heads out of the asses and become entrepreneurs. Seriously. Where exactly does experience as a developer get you, other than more dead end jobs as a developer? Unless developers become entrepreneurs, they run the serious risk of working their butts off, and having nothing to show for it three, five, twenty years later. Seriously, it's a fucking terrifying idea.

Re:We need more DEVELOPERS! (1)

fifedrum (611338) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251257)

well said, first voice of reason of the day

Re:We need more DEVELOPERS! (2)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251315)

Welcome to the real world. You could always work in a car factory for half the money. Strike that, not a good example. [] You could always work in another non-unionized job for half the money, and have to work just as hard, and with the same or even less job security. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. But I will agree that if you have the knack, know-how, drive and determination to be an entrepreneur, your reward potential is much higher.

Re:We need more DEVELOPERS! (3, Insightful)

tilante (2547392) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251375)

You do realize that most startups fail, right? Entrepreneurs run a serious risk of working their butts off, and having nothing to show for it three, five, twenty years later. Except in the entrepreneur's case, that 'working their butts off' is more literal (since running a startup easily takes a lot more than 40 hours a week), and that 'nothing to show for it' may be followed by 'except a big load of debt'.

Re:We need more DEVELOPERS! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41252009)

The stereotypical developer doesn't have the social skills to make it as an entrepreneur.
Also, conventional wisdom says "hackers are lazy" (I know the difference, thanks) and
entrepreneurship is a 24/7 lifestyle.

Re:We need more DEVELOPERS! (4, Insightful)

WaywardGeek (1480513) | more than 2 years ago | (#41252121)

I agree that developers should be more entrepreneurial. As my uncle always said, you'll never get rich working for someone else, and the worst that can happen starting a company is you wind up where you started: broke. So what? You can always try again or give up and get a regular job.

However, a lot of great coders are just not cut out to start businesses. Starting a business requires many different skill sets to be present in the initial founders and employees. For example, you're not likely to grow a business without hiring good people and then managing them well, so founders without decent experience in this area are likely to learn through repeated failure. You'd also be quite surprised at how many regular guys become psychotic a-holes as soon as real money is involved. In general, the larger the founding team, the more likely one of the founders will sabotage the company. My favorite number of founders is 1 or 2, which means the founders need to be jacks of all trades. They need to be the CEO, marketing VP, sales VP, CTO, CFO, IT support, human resources, office manager, receptionist, and all the worker bees all rolled into one. If a good programmer happens to fail in a major skill required for his startup, it likely wont work out. If he needs funding, yet isn't good at raising it, he'll fail. If he's got great ideas and is awesome at implementing them, yet couldn't sell free dog food to dogs, he'll likely learn a valuable lesson in how not to start a company.

So, do entrepreneurs need to learn to code? If code has to be written, and the number of founders is 1, and there's no money to hire coders, then yes. Otherwise, probably not. In my experience, the reason so many tech startups are started by techies is the people building this generation of tech are the ones who most easily see the implications of where technology is heading. A business major learning to program in Java isn't going to gain that insight. However, a guy with all those other skills partnered with the right geek could make a great 2-person team. Techie: Bill Hewlett Biz-head: David Packard. Techie: Woz Biz-head:Jobs. There are tons of techie/biz-head teams. The other way to go is if you can do it all yourself, but you should start out in tech, not learn it as an after-thought.

Do you need to... (1)

GeekWithAKnife (2717871) | more than 2 years ago | (#41250609)

Know how to make toasters to make toast?

Re:Do you need to... (2)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 2 years ago | (#41250825)

I see BadAnalogyGuy has an apprentice.

Re:Do you need to... (1)

Genda (560240) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251821)

That would be LameAnalogyBoy??? I believe the term is SIDEKICK. Have you never read a comic book?

All toasters toast Pop-Tarts (3, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#41250883)

No, but you do need to understand how a toaster heats the bread in order to know what you can do with a toaster and how to set the toaster correctly.

Paul Ryans List (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41250627)

Paul Ryan’s List

* Corporation for Public Broadcasting Subsidy (Self-flagellation fund)– $445 million annual savings.
* Save America’s Treasures Program (Starving artist fund) — $25 million annual savings.
* International Fund for Ireland (Guinness fund)– $17 million annual savings.
* Legal Services Corporation (Obstruction fund) — $420 million annual savings.
* National Endowment for the Arts (elitist crony fund)– $167.5 million annual savings.
* National Endowment for the Humanities (atheism fund)– $167.5 million annual savings.
* Hope VI Program (commn’ty organizing)– $250 million annual savings.
* Amtrak Subsidies (Black Hole) — $1.565 billion annual savings.
* Eliminate duplicating education programs (futility fund)– eliminates 68 at a savings of $1.3 billion annually.
* U.S. Trade Development Agency (foreign vacation fund)– $55 million annual savings.
* Woodrow Wilson Center Subsidy (I hate that guy!)– $20 million annual savings.
* Cut in half funding for congressional printing and binding (Luddite memorial) — $47 million annual savings.
* John C. Stennis Center Subsidy (Self-aggrandizement fund)– $430,000 annual savings.
* Community Development Fund (comm’ty organizing)– $4.5 billion annual savings.
* Heritage Area Grants and Statutory Aid (slum fund)– $24 million annual savings.
* Cut Federal Travel Budget in Half (vacation funds)– $7.5 billion annual savings
* Trim Federal Vehicle Budget by 20% (limo fund)– $600 million annual savings.
* Essential Air Service (as in “thin air”)– $150 million annual savings.
* Technology Innovation Program (from the Gov’t? Seriously?) — $70 million annual savings.
* Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Program (Crony fund) — $125 million annual savings.
* Department of Energy Grants to States for Weatherization (hidden fuel tax)– $530 million annual savings.
* Beach Replenishment (insanity)– $95 million annual savings.
* New Starts Transit (vote buying)– $2 billion annual savings.
* Exchange Programs for Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and Their Historical Trading Partners in Massachusetts (WTF Fund)– $9 million annual savings
* Intercity and High Speed Rail Grants (“air movers”)– $2.5 billion annual savings.
* Title X Family Planning (We know what causes it) — $318 million annual savings.
* Appalachian Regional Commission (Vote buying)– $76 million annual savings.
* Economic Development Administration (Slush fund)– $293 million annual savings.
* Programs under the National and Community Services Act (commt’y organizing) — $1.15 billion annual savings.
* Applied Research at Department of Energy (Slush fund)– $1.27 billion annual savings.
* Freedom CAR and Fuel Partnership (Slush fund) — $200 million annual savings.
* Energy Star Program (Slush fund)– $52 million annual savings.
* Economic Assistance to Egypt (Hush fund)– $250 million annually.
* U.S. Agency for International Development (vacation fund) — $1.39 billion annual savings.
* General Assistance to District of Columbia (choom fund)– $210 million annual savings..
* Subsidy for Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (crony fund) — $150 million annual savings.
* Presidential Campaign Fund (eff this!)– $775 million savings over ten years.
* No funding for federal office space acquisition (mistress fund)– $864 million annual savings.
* End prohibitions on competitive sourcing of government services. (protection racket)
* Repeal the Davis-Bacon Act — More than $1 billion annually. (job-killer act)
* IRS Direct Deposit: Require the IRS to deposit fees for some services it offers (such as processing payment plans for taxpayers) to the Treasury, instead of allowing it to remain as part of its budget — $1.8 billion savings over ten years. (incest fund)
* Require collection of unpaid taxes by federal employees (Perks Fund)– $1 billion total savings.
* Prohibit taxpayer funded union activities by federal employees (Pest Control)– $1.2 billion savings over ten years.
* Sell excess federal properties the government does not make use of (Capitol Hill?)– $15 billion total savings.
* Eliminate death gratuity for Members of Congress. (I say we make it an incentive.)
* Eliminate Mohair Subsidies (Llama-farm Subsidy to follow) — $1 million annual savings.
* Eliminate taxpayer subsidies to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Al Gore Subsidy)– $12.5 million annual savings
* Eliminate Market Access Program (They don’t believe in it anyway) — $200 million annual savings.
* USDA Sugar Program (mistress fund) — $14 million annual savings.
* Subsidy to Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) (Circle-jerk fund) — $93 million annual savings.
* Eliminate the National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program (Granola Payola) — $56.2 million annual savings.
* Eliminate fund for Obamacare administrative costs (dacha fund) — $900 million savings.
* Ready to Learn TV Program (we need a Ready To Teach program) — $27 million savings.
* HUD Ph.D. Program. (Valerie Jarrett Clone fund)
* Deficit Reduction Check-Off Act.(make-work fund)

TOTAL SAVINGS: $2.5 Trillion over Ten Years

Re:Paul Ryans List (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41251241)

Are you this guy [] ?

Yes, I think everyone should have some idea (3, Interesting)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 2 years ago | (#41250645)

It's an increasingly vital part of how absolutely everything in the world works. It's the battleground for various political factions (everything from stuxnet to DRM to Anonymous hacks). It increasingly determines what you can and cannot do with the stuff you think you own.

Not knowing anything about programming or how it works is something I consider nearly as bad as illiteracy in our society.

Re:Yes, I think everyone should have some idea (1)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 2 years ago | (#41250673)

And people are often so incredibly surprised when they realize the level of 'own' someone has over their life if they have control of their computer. I've had the "Your computer is infected." discussion with more than one person and had them stare at me incredulously when I describe just how bad their life could be made by someone who had complete control of their computer.

Re:Yes, I think everyone should have some idea (1)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | more than 2 years ago | (#41250809)

I'm sure a lot of folk think that their field of knowledge is vital stuff to know. Automobiles are a significant part of our society, yet is not knowing how combustion engines work as bad as being illiterate?

Besides, fewer people that know programming means more job security and less competition for me. :P

More expensive tools (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#41250909)

Besides, fewer people that know programming means more job security and less competition for me.

It also means fewer people interested in acquiring tools for programming, which means less competition among tool makers for programmers' dollars and mind share, which ultimately means more expensive tools for people like you who do know programming.

Re:Yes, I think everyone should have some idea (1)

pr0fessor (1940368) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251185)

Automobile are a significant part of our society and most people know how to put gas in them, check the coolant, oil, transmission fluid, and have a basic understanding of how gas is ignited to make the engine run. It does not take a mechanic to change a tire, battery, alternator, fan belt, or spark plugs everyday people do it all the time. Automobiles are a bad example, almost everyone I know has one, can do regular maintenance, replace broken parts and none of them are mechanics.

How about a microwave almost every one I know has one and if anything goes wrong I know no one that would try to fix a microwave even though they are somewhat expensive.

Re:Yes, I think everyone should have some idea (1)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251249)

Except that increasingly, understanding the workings of an internal combustion engine rely on understanding code. I do not think you can find one part of the economy, one device in which code is not an important piece. Perhaps silverware, maybe. Though how is it made?

Besides, fewer people that know programming means more job security and less competition for me. :P

I welcome the competition and the new ideas it will bring. I'm confident of my own ability to learn and stay on top of my field.

Re:Yes, I think everyone should have some idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41251977)

yet is not knowing how combustion engines work as bad as being illiterate?

You don't need to know how things work as much as you do need to know how things fail.

For a combustion engine, it's important to be familiar with certain failure modes, such as no gas, too hot, spinning too fast, etc, to be able to operate a car. Usually the easiest way to remember all of the important failure modes is to have a rudimentary understanding of how the thing works. This is much more effective than memorizing a troubleshooting checklist.

Coding is logical thinking (5, Insightful)

sandytaru (1158959) | more than 2 years ago | (#41250651)

Do people need to know how to program in C? No. Do they need to know how to think logically? It sure doesn't hurt. But there are other means of teaching formal logic; geometrical proofs are the standard for high school logic. I'm not sure that programming is necessarily the best way to go about it. The kids who have a natural knack for it will gravitate to it, so giving students the option as early as elementary or middle school is probably a fair thing to do. I don't think it should be a mandatory subject, especially at advanced levels.

Re:Coding is logical thinking (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41250719)

The two things that are severely lacking in most education systems are courses in basic logical reasoning and critical appraisal of scientific information. Sort those two out and a lot of problems might be fixed.

Learning to code only works if there is an exciting or stimulating enough goal. I, personally, can't just sit down and aimlessly tinker in C or Python.

Re:Coding is logical thinking (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41251289)

Most states in the US wouldn't be able to get courses like the ones you describe through their school boards. You are right that they are needed. But a lot of parents frown on having their kids come home and ask them to prove that their invisible friend exists and why, if he/she exists, it doesn't follow that the monster under the bed might exist too? School boards know this and won't allow classes that teach logical reasoning and critical appraisal.

define "need" (1)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 2 years ago | (#41250891)

Can people exist in our society without the ability to read? Certainly there is proof of that.

What level of education do we want for our society? Do we draw the line at literacy? Rational thought? Able to change the oil in a car? Fix a cell phone? Fill out a tax return? Write a spreadsheet formula? Implement a C compiler or operating system for a microcontroller?

Re:define "need" (1)

sandytaru (1158959) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251851)

If everyone is capable of everything, society collapses. I live in abject terror of the day my clients realize that there's nothing magical about installing software, rebooting a computer, or running network cables, because when that day comes I'll be out of a job. As it is, I'll fix their computers and they can continue to do whatever specialization is is they do.

Re:define "need" (2)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251989)

I can put up drywall, paint my house, and upgrade the plumbing. But I can pay someone else to do it in less time than I can do it. After I was all in DIY mode, I started adding up the numbers, and it would have been more cost effective for me to get a second job as a part time software developer consultant than to do all the work on my house myself.

But my original post is not about producing a society of jack-of-all-trades. But it is about where should we draw the line at a well rounded education? Should it include Greek and Latin, or C and Java, or none of the above? I think there are compelling arguments for a number of positions on the subject.

I'm asking everyone one, where do they draw the line for "need", and why.

What if your tech is chemistry-related? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41250667)

Or physics? Or any other tech field where code is a tool rather than a product? To answer the headline question: no.

Only if they want to use a computer (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41250679)

Using a computer without knowing how to code is absurd.

Re:Only if they want to use a computer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41250735)

Living in space-time without knowing relativistic physics is absurd.

Re:Only if they want to use a computer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41250975)

you have no idea how right you are.

Re:Only if they want to use a computer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41251709)

I'm the AC you replied to. And I do know relativistic physics, I will be speaking at a conference about it next week.

I guess you make money from the clueless computer users who cannot program...

The only reasonably necessary coding "needed" (1)

KrazyDave (2559307) | more than 2 years ago | (#41250683)

to be taught to everyone is Morse code. ... --- ...

Code Is Common But It Could Be Anything (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 2 years ago | (#41250689)

I think I can generalize this. If you're doing a startup in the tech community, there's often something that's your bread and butter. There's gotta be something that sets you apart from a big guy clone otherwise you're not a startup, you're just another business trying to do business. This bread and butter is often complex otherwise someone else would already be doing this. If you're the leadership on a startup, the less you know about this core element of your startup, the riskier your venture is going to be.

Coding is a common one because it's powerful. But your startup could just as easily depend on some hardware thing, like, say Fusion IO cards. And if the leaders of the startup don't understand the power and limitations of those cards, then you're in trouble. I think most of the time what I've seen ruin things inside a Fortune 500 company that does R&D that is supposed to mimic startups is that the leaders don't understand statistics and P-values and recall rates. Software is basically complex math so I guess you could say that was their misunderstanding of what software and "algorithms" could do but ... yeah I've been involved with rule based systems projects where it was pretty clear the people in charge of me didn't know the limitations of rule based systems. Back then, I'd draw out a functional flow block diagram for this system and show them the black box and explain to them why this was going to be trouble.

If I started up a new drywall startup and claimed I had a new mixture of gypsum and lime pressed between two special kinds of paper done in a certain manner at a certain temperature making it more resistant to moisture, more durable, comparable in price, etc than the crap coming out of China ... but in the end I don't understand the science or the chemistry behind that process, it's probably going to die on the vine. Sure, software is a common misunderstanding for tech startups but it could just as easily be the frequency limits of modern RAM accesses or why a 700 Mhz ARM processor isn't gonna get the job done or how many points a resistive touch display can track at once accurately etc etc.

Basically if you don't understand the core concepts that your startup depends on and offers, you're gonna have a bad time.

Re:Code Is Common But It Could Be Anything (2)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | more than 2 years ago | (#41250955)

And if the leaders of the startup don't understand the power and limitations of those cards, then you're in trouble.

True to an extent. As an early-stage entrepreneur, you need to put on many hats. These include marketing, HR, R&D, accounting, etc. So you need to be versed in many aspects of your businesses. This, I agree, usually entails being the one building the product. But as the business grows you have to make a choice: lead the organization or continue developing products. You really cannot do both. Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of trying to do both, and this is where the organization usually fails.

Keep in mind also, that as an entrepreneur you're selling a product, not the code. I've met many very successful entrepreneurs of later stage enterprises, who have gone through multiple rounds of funding and are worth hundreds of millions. The people at the helm were all there in the beginning, but they are no longer part of the day-to-day, and probably could not explain the fine-grain details of the product anymore as well as the chemists on the ground floor could. But they can still sell their product without knowing the exact details of the chemical processes, and they made the tough choice of divorcing themselves from the day-to-day research in favor of steering the overall direction of the ship.

No, coding is useless to an entrepreneur (4, Interesting)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#41250701)

If they were learning to architect software systems, that might be useful and help them to understand what's possible and what's not.

But learning to code doesn't help them at all, and is more likely to give them a false sense of the complexity of large software systems. He'll say stuff like "Hey, what's so hard about doing this, I can write a function to add this feature in 10 minutes, so go make it happen!", while the engineer is saying "But this is a fundamental change in the data model and means touching nearly our entire code base"

Re:No, coding is useless to an entrepreneur (1)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 2 years ago | (#41250923)

Yeah, this is true. It's like someone who learns 1 chord on their guitar deciding that's going to somehow help them start the next break-out Platinum selling band, and they won't shut up about it.

I can't tell you how many times I have heard marketing or project managers insist something they are requesting is simple to implement because they managed to copy down a Fibonacci function from "Javascript for Dummies".

Re:No, coding is useless to an entrepreneur (1)

mykepredko (40154) | more than 2 years ago | (#41250937)

So in other words, "a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing".

I'm on the fence as to whether or not I agree with you (probably a good thing I don't have mod points right now).

I have been in situations where I have had people say exactly that to me and it is interesting to see the results when you say - "Wow, that's great, please show me." The responses are generally:
- 80%, "I'm paying you to do the work and I'm too busy".
- 15%, go off and I never hear from them again.
- 5%, actually follow through, fail and see the complexity of what is actually being done (this is the best case)
- 0.00001%, can actually do it and produce something meaningful. Note this number is my guess as I've never seen it happen.


Re:No, coding is useless to an entrepreneur (1)

pr0fessor (1940368) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251675)

Your post kind of reminds me of a guy I work with that claimed it would take three months to develop a "select all" on a html page full of check boxes. I'm under the impression that he didn't feel like it and didn't realize that I already knew it wasn't rocket surgery.

Re:No, coding is useless to an entrepreneur (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41252165)

LOL "rocket surgery" I'm met some rocket surgeons and they're no brain scientists, that's for sure.

Re:No, coding is useless to an entrepreneur (5, Interesting)

smillie (30605) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251317)

One time I was writing some code to control hardware and the boss wanted it to watch for a condition and then alert the supervisors. I thought it was a good idea and asked him what symptoms defined this condition he wanted to watch for. He said "just let the computer figure it out." I don't think I ever got him to understand the computer doesn't think but just follows rules and until the rules are defined the computer won't know what to do. I ended up making a guess for rules and kept tweeking as I watched for false positives and negatives.

A entrepreneur needs to understand how computes work and how algorithms work or it's going to be a cluster.

Re:No, coding is useless to an entrepreneur (1)

darkwing_bmf (178021) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251689)

If I had mod points, they'd go to you. This is the root of the problem. Knowing how to code is beside the point.

You don't to, but it is practical (1, Insightful)

dingen (958134) | more than 2 years ago | (#41250749)

Of course there are lots of examples of great tech entrepreneurs who can't write a single line of code, so it's obviously it's not a requirement. But I do think it's a practical skill to have, especially in the beginning of your new company when resources are scarce. You can save lots of money and time by being able to whip up your own demo's and prototypes, instead of having to let 3rd party developers create them for you, especially as there tends to be lots of different versions and ideas at the start. And later on it is a great benefit to have a general knowledge of what it is your company offers and the people working for you are doing in your ability to manage your company properly.

Re:You don't to, but it is practical (1)

farble1670 (803356) | more than 2 years ago | (#41252057)

Of course there are lots of examples of great tech entrepreneurs who can't write a single line of code, so it's obviously it's not a requirement.

are there examples where the technology in question wasn't built with software? it seems unlikely to me, but i'm more asking a question than anything else. and by tech entrepreneurs, we mean founders, not people that swooped in later with some cash and bought a share of the company.

steve jobs? coder.
bill gates? coder.
sergey brin? coder.
larry ellison? coder.
mark z? coder.

No... and anyway.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41250757)'s all been pattentend by your owners and betters already, now get back to consuming and being the dim grazers you were ment to be, next you'll want to think for yourself and make your own choices. Sheeesh. It's all magic pixy dust and anyone who understands it is either mad or a genius or both, its a super power really, no really. Honest.

duh (1)

Jookey (604878) | more than 2 years ago | (#41250767)

If your a CEO of a motorcycle company you should know something about motorcycles If your CEO of a Twinkies factory you should know something about baking.

Re:duh (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 2 years ago | (#41250925)

LOL, I'm not convinced most C level executives have anything but business experience any more.

Knowing the specifics of the industry you're in isn't as important. Not by a long shot.

Re:duh (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251037)

If your a CEO of a motorcycle company you should know something about motorcycles
If your CEO of a Twinkies factory you should know something about baking.

Sure the motorcycle needs to know something about motorcycles, but he doesn't need to know how to make one, that's what the guys in the factory are for.

If the CEO of Hostess is spending his time learning how to bake a twinkie, then I'm not surprised they are having so much trouble -- the CEO of a large corporate doesn't need to know the implementation details of their products, but they do need to know how they are used and how to sell them.

They need... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41250779)

They need the ability to detect bullshit; what is and is not feasible given a schedule and some amount of talent. They need they ability to weight the value of capabilities and features or the significance of flaws.

Coding, managing systems, etc. is important to the extent that it facilitates these abilities.

Re:They need... (1)

lennier1 (264730) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251109)

Pretty much.

A decent understanding of the matter is in their best interest and it doesn't hurt that it'll also make things easier for their tech employees down the road.

TFA is asking something different: (2)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | more than 2 years ago | (#41250795)

TFA does not ask (or answer) "Do Tech Entrepreneurs Need To Know How To Code?" Rather it asks "Do nontechnical entrepreneurs of digital start-ups need to learn code?" (emph. added).

This really depends on which stage of a startup you're at. If you're in the garage building the prototype, yeah, you pretty much need to be R&D, which involves coding. If you're further along in the enterprise, perhaps raising money, perhaps building a team, perhaps concentrating on distribution or manufacturing, then being on the ground floor of R&D is much less important. Many founders turned CEO who started at ground zero developing products are ousted (bringing in an outside CEO or other manage) at later points in the life of their company simply because they are too focused on the minutia of product development and R&D, and haven't actually learned how to run and manage their organization.

Make no mistake, ideas are dime a dozen. Everyone has one, and everyone thinks their idea will make them a million dollars. The reason not everyone is a millionaire is that the conversion between idea and money is dependent much more on execution of the idea than the idea itself. If more entrepreneurs understood this instead of focusing on the product, there would be fewer failure stories to talk about. Now don't get me wrong, a good product is *very* important, but it's still a small part of the larger picture.

Delegation (1)

Translation Error (1176675) | more than 2 years ago | (#41250881)

Someone creating a digital start-up definitely needs to understand the product or service they're creating, both the fundamentals and the specifics, but that doesn't mean they personally have to be able to build it. There really isn't a need for a company's creator/owner/whatever to be involved at such a level (unless they actually are an expert in such coding), and there are undoubtedly better things they should be doing with their time. And if they aren't already skilled in responsible coding, they definitely shouldn't be messing with things.

Yes. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41250893)

I teach mechanical engineers. About half the mechanical engineering students do not know anything about code or computers. However they need to use computers daily. Its sad to see many of them doing things manually that a for loop would solve in few seconds.

The end run of this experience is that the tools actually reflect this. The way local companies work is horrible, i mean even indexing the metadata of their 3d Models is a task that they can not solve. Even with millions in cash. Mostly this is due to the fact that since they don't have any understanding of code they can not think about the problem in a way that would make them automatic. As a result they need to pay roughly 15-30% too much for labor. Mainly thsi time ie spent correcting manual mistakes and doing the same thing over again.

Now the thing is you can not hire a coder to solve your problem, if your not willing to change the way you work. Understanding how to do rudimentary coding in form of scripts helps one to see what the coders should do. It helps you to explain the problem and thus get a good solution for you the end user. For fraction of the cost with less bugs. Lets face it coders sure as hell don't know how to design physical objects. So their solutions don't necessarily meet with your needs.

Everyone can code, but can everyone program?? (4, Insightful)

johnlcallaway (165670) | more than 2 years ago | (#41250895)

'Coding' is syntax. Learning how to explain how to do something using a specific syntax. I think just about anyone can learn how to do that.

'Coding' is reading a spec and converting it to a specific syntax. I think just about anyone can learn how to do that.

'Programming' is taking a nebulous idea, breaking it down into a series of inter-related processing components, and then coding those processing components. It's being able to recognize if the processes as defined work as desired and if not, figuring out how which components do not work properly and correct them. It requires certain degrees of spatial skills depending on the complexity and number of processes being coded so that their inter-relationships can be understood.

Programming is a far more difficult thing to teach, because it requires someone to be able to develop a process where none already exists, or convert an existing process that is not computer-based, into a series of logical processing components and link them together to produce the desired results. It requires someone to step outside lines where everything is neatly defined and define their own instructions.

When so many people can't even follow directions on how to set the clock on their microwave oven, how the hell does anyone think they can learn to do anything but code what someone else has already written the instructions for.

Doomed to Fail Miserably (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41250915)

Most of the Teenagers I know (I have 6 grandkids) are more interested in what inane rubbish their pals are saying about their other friends than how IT Systems work. Lets face it, being a developer is nerdy. I'm a developer and will next week celbrate the 40th anniversary of writing my first program (Fortran on an ICL 1901-A). Now I write software that helps to run Airports.
None of my siblings nor their siblings have shown a slightest bit of interest in 'how it all works'. To be a successful developer you have to (IMHO) have in interest in making things work.
I was brought up building things with Meccano and Lego. Today the children are more interested in Shoot-em-up games (most boys) or What the latest Celeb gossip is than boring stuff like this.

Why don't we just give up trying to make everyone interested in this stuff and concentrate on nurturing the few of them who are clrarly interestnd in this stuff.
We don't need millions of bad developers (we have enough of them already). We need thousands of skilled and motivated ones.

Moot point. (1)

pla (258480) | more than 2 years ago | (#41250951)

Not everyone needs to know how to code, which I consider a Very Good Thing(tm), for one simple reason...

Most people either can not or will not ever learn to code. I'd say the mode of thinking itself automatically rules out a good third (at least) of the population simply for raw capacity to learn the necessary skills; on top of which, the vast majority of people who could learn to code find it unbearably tedious and boring. Most people see coding as roughly on par with doing their taxes for "fun".

This might be the wrong crowd to ask (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41250993)

This is a little like asking the nation's dairy farmers whether everyone should drink a big glass of milk every day.

Yes, look at Yahoo (1)

travdaddy (527149) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251019)

Let's look at a successful mega-companies and see what they do: Yahoo. They know to only hire CEO's with Computer Science degrees. To do otherwise might cause disruption and financial losses to their business. They would never hire a CEO without a CS degree and they do a very thorough investigation into whether they might be trying to pretend like they have one. Yes, you need to know how to code.

Computer Science is not IT and some times not code (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251231)

Computer Science is not IT and some times not even coding as well.

If you can't code... (0)

pigiron (104729) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251051)

you aren't shit.

More about knowing limitations (1)

PPalmgren (1009823) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251071)

I think its important for people to know, because it allows them to understand the opportunities as well as the limitations of software. Working in Finance, its painful seeing how few people understand what opportunities lie within 1 hour's worth of code to simplify their life. Even the number of people who print something out in order to scan it is mind boggling. Its not even about whittling at their headcounts and working hours, its about changing the focus. The job should be about ensuring matches and verifying payments, not scanning and renaming files and manually typing in information that's already on your computer. Mundane work creates mistakes and takes away from what the job is supposed to be.

Then the limitations come into play. When implementing a new system, such outlandish requests without understanding what it will take to accomplish them create rifts and a lot of headbutting. It also helps you understand errors and why things aren't working. "Oh shit, I got an error box, I should call the help desk." Why did it happen, and why doesn't it normally happen? Understanding the way code works allows you to see into the solution in many cases.

This is what Bill Gates meant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41251085)

So Bill Gates said "in 20 years the books will read themselves to you" and they are today. He also said that the absolute necessity of literacy will be replaced by an absolute necessity of computer literacy.

So who is this guy anyway. He didn't write windows, he managed the folks who had the "talent" to do that. He couldn't do it, so why does his opinion matter.

The computer is the printing press. It has already started its first baby steps in redefining how humans think, remember, communicate and educate. Our economies and economic transactions are computer based. Most engineering is computer based. Our computer assisted engineering makes systems with hundreds of billions of features - today. Modern elevators don't have buttons because computers are better about figure how to get to which floor than humans. Moore's law suggests this stuff is going to be trivial in a decade.

If you don't have the basics then you are the future slave population. People without a DEEP understanding of computers are going to be living the McLife (as in McJob etc...) in 15 years. Raspberry Pi is the LOGO of your generation.

"King Billy" does code though... apk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41251425)

"So Bill Gates said "in 20 years the books will read themselves to you" and they are today. He also said that the absolute necessity of literacy will be replaced by an absolute necessity of computer literacy. So who is this guy anyway. He didn't write windows, he managed the folks who had the "talent" to do that. He couldn't do it, so why does his opinion matter." - by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 06, @02:08PM (#41251085)

See here []


"Although Bill Gates is known mostly for his founding of Microsoft he also has done a number of programming jobs before becoming the worlds richest man. Bill Gates first programming job would be when he offered the principle at his high school a timetable organizer that would be more efficient and easier to use than what the principle had previously been using. Little did Gates' principle know that Bill had created the program to his own benefit... Bill was going to be in all the pretty girls classes. Bill's second job was a summer's work programming in which he earned 4200 dollars. At the age of fourteen Bill Gates and his programming buddy thought up the idea for a traffic counting computer which would later be named 'Traf- o-Data' and earn them 20 000 dollars. But when word got around that the computers were being sold out of a basement by a couple of teens the business fell through. Gates also worked as a Congressional Page and at a programming company called 'TRW'. After dropping out of Harvard Gates created the first basic operating language for the computer. Although Gates has programmed a number of programs he is still going strong at it and is programming as I write this."

and, of course, this too:

""'Could Bill Gates Write Code?' Or was he merely the luckiest man alive," before concluding... "Yes He Bloody Could!""


* And, there you are...


P.S.=> Small wonder you posted ac, because imo? You were NOT very sure of yourself in your erroneous statement quoted above, obviously... apk

An unequivocal "yes" (3, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251107)

The most successful tech entrepreneurs had significant technical skills. And that absolutely mattered - without those skills, they have no way of evaluating technical employees and applicants. If they weren't in charge of product development themselves, then they at least had to know who they should hire to run product development.

For example: Bill Gates was an extremely effective developer and architect (worth reading is Joel Spolsky [] writing about a time he met with Bill Gates). Larry and Sergei of Google were well-respected developers doing graduate work at Stanford. Steve Jobs wasn't at good at the technical stuff as Woz was, but he had tinkered with electronics and done technical work for Atari.

Many MBAs of the world would like to think that managers don't need to understand the details of their product line. But that's simply not true - the manager that understands the details will hire better people, make wiser decisions about how to accomplish tasks, and have a more realistic outlook of what the organization can do.

One of the best posts on the page today... apk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41252031)

Mod dkleinsc up folks - since he truly "hit the nail on the head" here!

* Personally, I don't have a lot of "faith" in MBA's as I have had to work with many AND correct their work (mainly in math).

See - I helped my brother get his during some of his studies & he was amazed that I still knew what came out of my 1st degree, B.S. Business Administration with MIS concentration!

So - when it came time for my brother to do his job (he is a Bronze Star decorated Major/Field Grade Officer who works inside the "military industrial complex")?

He asked me "what to do?"

I told him:

"Your experience is leading men, that's a GOOD start, but... you need to learn EVERY POSSIBLE DETAIL OF WHAT YOUR MEN DO, and be able to do it as well as they can or try to"

That way, he gets their respect which IS CRUCIAL @ FIRST, @ least imo!


Since he did what I advised by spending months with each of his men?

He was able to run an assembly line in a plant during a strike himself, & now? He's the plant manager...

(Says a LOT, right there...).


P.S.=> Especially about mgt. that can code, being able to understand the nature of what is needed, AND, because of that being able to hire the right folks for the job as well as the possibilities of the task @ hand as well - too bad a good 90% of them are NOT that type of mgt. though (& it often shows)...

Very good post!

... apk

For the love of god no.... (1)

ilsaloving (1534307) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251153)

Gee, this is just a fabulous idea. Imagine the dotcom days where everyone and their goldfish were jumping on ship to 'code' because the $$$ was flashing in their eyes. What was the result? Massive massive quantities of crap.

Now lets magnify that umteen-fold, because suddenly everyone 'knows' how to program. Yeah, that's a great idea. Lets give everyone an unlimited amount of rope and let the Dunning-Kruger effect do the knot tying...

John Sculley (4, Insightful)

Frequency Domain (601421) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251205)

Peddled soda before becoming CEO of Apple. Everybody thought that his CEO expertise would carry over to any other kind of business. He didn't understand computers and thought he could beat the competition by turning macs into commodity computers and outmarketing the rest of the field. He very nearly put Apple out of business.

Re:John Sculley (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41252229)

Peddled soda before becoming CEO of Apple. Everybody thought that his CEO expertise would carry over to any other kind of business. He didn't understand computers and thought he could beat the competition by turning macs into commodity computers and outmarketing the rest of the field. He very nearly put Apple out of business.

Today Apple is successful selling macs that are x86 computers that can run windows, but they use marketing to convince people they are better, when it's pretty much the same hardware.

Looks like Sculley had the right idea, he just didn't branch out with the supporting hardware, such as iPods and iPads.

Ugh, I see this every day... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41251219)

Management type calls up - "Hey, I want a widget that does XYZ".
Developer - "No problem, should be able to whip that up in about 4 hours".
Management type - "But I found this free plugin you can use".
Developer - "Free plugin, Great, no problem - should take about 4 hours to implement".
Management type - "4 hours! You're ripping me off! I could do it myself in under 1 hour".
Developer - "Awesome, great, go ahead and get er done, and stop wasting my time"
Management type - "I'll just need you to show me how to...."
Developer - "Why did you call me?"

There is always going to be people that "Get Computers" aka "Developers" and people that "Think they get Computers" aka "Management". I think the problem is that there are a whole lot more managers then there are developers. Management is frustrated that these mystical developers have skills that they lack, and so they start a big rant on how everyone needs to know how to code in an attempt to increase supply of a skill that is in high demand.

So to you management types I say "By all means, I encourage you to take your intro to programming class and compete with me on even ground, but until such time please refrain from insulting my craft."

There is of course this one small detail that management types seem so keen to ignore - We developers have a lifetime of experience.

I imagine it would be a lot easier to teach a programmer how to manage, then to teach a manager how to program. But then, what do I know? I'm just one of those stupid developers.

Not at all..but it probably helps (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41251259)

I know a guy who started an IT consultancy company about 10 years ago and has made a considerable amount of money from it. He figured if you hire the right people, you don't need to fully understand the technology. You just need to understand the needs of the (potential) customers and make sure the company meets them. The tech guys can work out the details. Now and again he still calls with basic IT questions :)

Coding as a part of "General Knowledge" (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251349)

Just as most "college-bound" high school graduates have a broad awareness of history, literature, and science in addition to specific skills in these and other areas, anyone who wants to be able to appreciate what humanity and the modern world have to offer "needs to learn the notions of algorithms, realizing what you can use code for."

So, no, it's not essential for tech entrepreneurs to know how to code or be able to recognize an algorithm's O() complexity, but they will be better people and better entrepreneurs if they invest some time to learn about algorithms and what is an is not computationally feasible.

"But do they?" (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251357)

Yes. They also need basic math and physics skills. They don't get those either.

You don't have to code to be an entrepreneur (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41251363)

But it sure cuts down on the number of people you need to hire.

A business partner on a recent gig told me that he had a huge number of ideas but he was constrained by the fact that he had to have programmers to execute the ideas, and he had to describe and explain the ideas to the programmers before the ideas could become reality. He was always whining about how long it took to develop stuff and how it should be intuitive so the end users wouldn't need any training.

He tried taking a course in Java programming. It didn't go well. Also, when pressed for details on how to make it more intuitive, he usually came up blank.

We need to be clear on the fact that not everyone's mind works that way. Just like not everyone is cut out to be a graphic designer. My brother-in-law is an excellent graphic designer but he's been trying, unsuccessfully, to wrap his head around SQL. I work with SQL most every day, but my attempts at graphic design stink. It's quite possible that people who have a natural talent for entrepreneurship may not be able to code at anything more than a beginner level.

Learn usability (1)

dvice_null (981029) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251441)

I think that usability and user experience are more important that programming. I think usability and user experience should be taught to everyone at school. It wouldn't require that much hours as it is mostly common sense. And because it is common sense, it would be really easy for people to learn, unlike programming.

Imagine doors that people can open to correct direction without a mistake. Imagine books where the information you seek is easy to found. Imagine ovens that are easy to heat and light switches with 10 buttons where you instantly know which button will start which light. That all is reality, if people had a little knowledge about usability.

Imagine alarm clocks that gently wake you up. Imagine a wheelchair that makes you look cool. Imagine an error message that informs you about your own mistake so politely that it makes you feel good that you made the mistake. All this is possible if people had a little knowledge about user experience.

Imagine if all the programmers would read just a couple of books on this subject. Does Entrepreneurs need to know this stuff? No way. But I'm pretty sure that Jobs did.

Modeling (2)

Schmorgluck (1293264) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251571)

Modeling is a skill that's necessary to developers, and even to base coders it doesn't hurt. And it's also useful to entrepreneurs, especially when it comes to modeling flows of information and materials. They can delegate that skill, of course, but it's only a possibility in a large enough structure. To a small to medium company, having some skills in that matter is important. Owners of very small companies often manage to do that intuitively, but it only works to an extent, and can cause problems when they expand.

I sometimes half-jokingly state that if a company grows enough that it can have a second coffee machine, a full audit of the information system should be performed before said coffee machin is installed: it might disrupt informal communications between branches (who often happen around the coffee machine), which calls for a formalisation of communications before proceeding.

To sum up: management students have some courses in common with developers.

Re:Modeling (1)

Schmorgluck (1293264) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251625)

And sorry for typing "modeling" instead of "modelling".

Do people need to learn Algorithms (1)

lkcl (517947) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251727)

Step 1: Read the question
Step 2: Record current time
Step 3: Think.
Step 4: Re-examine current time.
Step 5: If elapsed time 1.0 seconds, goto Step 3
Step 6: If answer to Step 1 != "yes", Goto Step 1.

Re:Do people need to learn Algorithms (1)

lkcl (517947) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251775)

ha! spot the bug in the algorithm where the "" key did not work and i hit "submit" before noticing, yaay! i'm sure there will be plenty of slashdotters who notice that, but how many tech entrepreneurs will, eh? oh... they don't read slashdot....

Re:Do people need to learn Algorithms (1)

lkcl (517947) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251811)

ah fascinating - it's a bug in slashdot!

test less-than symbol: ""
test html entity: "<"
test backslash in front of less-than symbol: "\"
test two less-than symbols: ""

Everyone should learn how to code (1)

FranTaylor (164577) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251743)

Once I had a manager who made decisions without thinking about the software.

Then he made a decision that had a terrible impact. He stipulated conditions that seemed straightforward, but required extensive software modifications

I showed him the plans for new software that was required to meet his requirements. He did not realize that his "simple" changes required extensive modification, and so his changes turned out to be not so "necessary" after all.

Since then he has learned how to code, and now he thinks about the software before he requests changes to policies.

Not to Code... (1)

KalvinB (205500) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251753)

If you want to run a tech business then you need to know the difference between crappy programmers and quality programmers. If you don't know anything about code and what quality code looks like, you could doom your business to failure before you even launch your first product. The longest running product I've got going is 3 years old. The design decisions early on are requiring some massive reworking but the actual business logic of the code is remaining untouched. The code was properly designed to be upgraded to new methodologies without breaking everything. In less than 80 hours the old code will be able to take advantage of new methodologies and we can go full steam ahead with new features.

Plenty of companies don't have that ability because they hire crappy programmers. 3 years down the road, they'll find out the code has to be thrown out entirely because it has turned to unmanageable spaghetti. And the end result is you're out of business.

Calling BS is a precious skill (1)

bobetov (448774) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251777)

If you run a software startup and don't know software, you will forever be making errors of judgement due to your lack of that understanding.

You can't hire people effectively. You can't manage projects effectively. You can't call BS when your engineers tell you it will be done impossibly soon, or isn't possible. You can't *judge*.

I do tech startup consulting, and a fair bit of my work is helping non-tech founders hire, manage, and analyze. It's crucial to have this ability on your founding team if you're a software startup. That MBA is not enough.

To Code, or not to code (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41251861)

I dunno, I have been fixing computers and building networks for more than twenty years, and I couldn't code my way out of a paper bag. I do know how code works, and why it works though. Does it help me on the job? I don't really think so. I know how an OS works, how a network works, how a computer works, and what common, as well as uncommon problems they have. I do have a good knowledge of logic, physics, electronics, and mathematics, too. Did I mention that I am a high school drop out? I guess some of us just have a knack for learning things that interest us, on our own. I think that wanting to know about what makes things tick, and having a passion about it, will lead one down the path to learn how they do, on their own, with or without coding. Yeah, I could write a simple batch file back in the DOS days, and I had a simple website up with basic html, but I really don't consider that programming by today's standards. Besides, I was lousy at it. But I can build you a network, troubleshoot a PC/network, fix a laser printer, and such. I guess that's just my "style." I think my point is that there are two types of technophiles, hardware people and software people, and they have to get along in order to make the whole thing work.
OK, I'm done with my babbling, go ahead.

Remember Logo, anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41251897)

When I was in grade school, I remember our computer lab had some Apple IIe's, and we learned and played with Logo. If anyone remembers, it's where you can draw by typing commands at a prompt to tell the turtle how to move. I was in the second grade at the time. But I think 6 years old is a bit too young to learn "real" programming, But Logo, or something logo-like may be the way to go to introduce programming to children and it makes it fun to draw some pictures.

A few commands are FD, forward; BK, backup; RT, right turn; LT, left turn. Then you have more programmatic commands like REPEAT to write loops.

Two Words (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41252013)

"Jurassic Park"
Remember the fat know-it-all geek coder in that film?

It depends I suppose.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41252205)

Does an *tech* entrepreneur need to know code? Well, inherently yes, they would be developing the tech first (next new web site, or app, or whatever) THEN have the money start pouring in. Or not.

          Does an entrepreneur who just happens to be involved in tech need to know how to code? Nope, these general-purpose entrepreneurs tend to be an idea man who comes up with some idea, then has the right personality to collect people around him that know how to get this idea turned into a business. They should know something about algorithms so they don't have unreasonable expectations, like thinking their team can implement a proven impossible algorithm if the programmers are given enough motivation, or ditto for a very difficult algorithm in a very short length of time, or thinking if they optimize things enough they could run a real-time full-scale weather model on the cell phone or whatever. But probably in this case the entrepreneur would be best not getting directly involved in the coding.

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