That’s Fine For Marco

Overcast is moving to an ad-supported business model.

Ads are the great compromise: money needs to come from somewhere, and the vast majority of people choose free-with-ads over direct payment. Ads need not be a bad thing: when implemented respectfully, all parties can get what they want.

Overcast is the best podcast client I’ve used. Smart Speed and Voice Boost are fantastic features that Marco clearly put a lot of work into, so I hope he finds a business model that is sustainable enough to convince him to keep working on the app. Being able to say that though has taken some thought and introspection.

I’m envious of Marco’s success. He’s played all his cards right and he’s designed the life he wants to lead; he deserves the success he’s gained. ATP is my favorite podcast, and I used Instapaper almost religiously for years. He’s very good at what he decides to do, so I don’t think it’s any mystery at all that he is where he is.

And yet… and yet… like so many others in this community, I’ve struggled to come up with even one idea with staying power. I’ve released too soon, my ideas weren’t very good, or my execution flawed. As I look at turning 40 in a few short months, I’m finding it harder than ever not to grow bitter at how some make it, but most do not. It’s an unfair, harsh, and unforgiving world out there, and if you weren’t born with a silver spoon in your mouth it’s unlikely you’ll ever know life without struggle.

Unlikely, but not impossible. That’s what I keep telling myself anyway.

I’ve watched Shawn Blanc grow from a part-time blogger1 to a self-help coach, running three separate sites and recording online courses. Making enough money in a week to last for a year. Again, he’s smart, he’s found his niche, and he’s worked hard. It’s just not the natural human emotion to feel good about others succeeding where you have not. It takes effort.

Manton Reece talked about this a bit in his post “A great developer can come from anywhere”:

Daniel Jalkut and I had Marco as a special guest on Core Intuition 200 not just because he’s a friend but also because he so well represents the goal that many of us have and our listeners have — to start our own company, to find success not just one time but again and again, and to have as thoughtful an approach as possible in the craft of software development.

I’m tempted to quote the entire article. Manton makes the case that while some people dismiss Marco’s approach to testing as a privilege he enjoys as a byproduct of his success, this concept is poison to the community. Saying “that’s fine for Marco, but it wouldn’t work for the average guy” is giving yourself an excuse not to work as hard or push as hard as needed to make it. It’s important to remember that Marco’s success came after years of mostly anonymous work. And of course, success breeds success, he’s been able to build off of one to make a success of the next.

Manton ends his post by saying:

I’ll never accept the implied negativity in the “that’s fine for Marco” argument. I’ll never accept that we should be jealous of another developer’s success instead of inspired by it to do our best work.

My first reaction to the Overcast announcement was to post a quick tweet about not wanting to help finance Marco’s next Tesla, but that would have come from a place of jealousy and bitterness, not inspiration. Instead, I’m going to go back to my notebook, my collection of ideas, and look over it again.

  1. Like the rest of us.