Don’t learn Rails!

You’re currently a computer science student and you think web engineering is a nice career choice? Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube, Digg. Isn’t a web startup a good idea to get rich quickly? Think again!

In the year 2000 the mentality was similiar.

A year ago, Yahoo invested in Right Media, a New York company developing an online advertising network. Yahoo’s investment valued the company at $200 million. Six months later, when Yahoo acquired Right Media outright, the purchase price had swelled to $850 million.

What changed? According to Right Media’s co-founder Brian O’Kelley, very little, except for the fact that Yahoo’s rivals Microsoft and Google were writing billion-dollar checks to buy online advertising networks, and Yahoo felt that it needed to pay any price to keep up.

“I have to say I giggled,” O’Kelley, 30, said of Yahoo’s acquisition, which earned him $25 million. “There is no way we quadrupled the value of the company in six months.”

This excerpt is from Dot-com fever stirs sense of déjà vu. A more famous example than Right Media would be Skype.

EBay acknowledged this month that it had overpaid for Skype by about $1.43 billion

Assuming a cyclical up- and downswings we’re currently near the top of an upswing, like we were seven years ago. This means we will experience a downswing in the next few years. The “bubble will burst again”.

If you think about learning Rails (or any other web framework), because you think about a startup after graduation, think again!

The situation will be different then. It may be harder to find investors who throw money at you. It may be close to impossible to find someone to buy your small company that is rapidly running out of money.

Don’t misunderstand me! There is nothing wrong with learning Rails, if you want to create an interactive website and from what i know Ruby is pretty handy programming language. A web startup may still be a good idea. Just don’t expect to get rich quickly with this.

In short: Don’t bet your career on web engineering just because Facebook is so cool!

Published in: on October 17, 2007 at 10:43 am  Comments (14)  
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