Subject: Re: Lead developers vs 'Helpers'
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <>
Date: Wed, 20 Aug 2003 21:37:27 +0900

>>>>> "David" == David N Welton <> writes:

    David> From a free software business point of view, what is the
    David> difference between 'lead developers' and 'helpers'.

I would say it's like any partnership: a "lead developer" is a person
who can take a significant part of your franchise with him if he
strikes out on his own.

    David> With many medium sized projects, it's pretty obvious who
    David> runs things and does most of the work.  This is the person
    David> who you would also go to for consulting, training, or whose
    David> name would look best on a book, even if there are other
    David> people who know the code and do work on it.

Erm, qmail: Daniel Bernstein or Russ Nelson?  Book, yes, djb, OK, but
any of the rest of it?  Or Emacs or gcc: would you really hire rms in
to do training and consulting in your company?  I think that logical
place to look for support services is where you find them, which is
_not_ necessarily going to have anything at all to do with where the
lead developers are to be found, especially in free software.

This is not to say that there aren't plenty of lead developers who do
do training and consulting.  Russ himself has his own well-known
projects.  Many of the leading FSBs have principals who do development
and support.  But they're different skills and need not go together.

However ... if the lead developer is interested in joining an FSB,
definitely that gives the support people around him a leg up.

    David> I wonder how important this distinction is in economic
    David> terms?

What do you mean by "economic terms"?  By my definition above, the
lead developer will have to (a) get paid more in absolute terms and
(b) get a significant ownership share, because otherwise he'll start
his own business.  (Ignoring lifestyle considerations, which make it
likely that economic reasoning will _not_ drive compensation and
ownership decisions in FSBs, at least not nearly 100%.)

Institute of Policy and Planning Sciences
University of Tsukuba                    Tennodai 1-1-1 Tsukuba 305-8573 JAPAN
               Ask not how you can "do" free software business;
              ask what your business can "do for" free software.