Developers have always been the builders of software products but they were rarely the primary user and they certainly haven’t always been the people calling the shots around how things get built and what gets bought. It’s been a long time coming but you could probably say that the ‘rise of the developer’ was first publicly recognised about 21 years ago. Much has changed since the year 2000. Stocks have gone down. Then back up. Founders of the biggest tech companies in the world have lost their youthful barnets and in some cases grown them back. Microsoft has gone from the enemy of many an IRC channel filled with Linux death eaters to the beloved brother of those whose preferred form of social interaction is the command line. That important shift in strategy from the most influential software company in the world was announced on the 12th of July 2000 when Steve Ballmer went on stage to scream into the void; ‘Developers! Developers! Developers!’ Niche gifs for a niche audience As an industry venture tends to be a little late to the party and it was 2015 before many leading VCs began publishing blogs alongside their early major investments in the developer-focused world with strong retrospective investment strategies around the ‘rise of the developer ‘— as if the CEO of the largest technology company in the world hadn’t been roaring this in public 15 years prior. So, what has the ‘rise of the developer’ changed about the world? It’s unlocked a spectacular amount of latent value in software markets and has allowed for step-change in the speed at which software products can be delivered, the quality that they can attain and the enormous scale to which they can be rolled out. It has been a long march that is only accelerating and as software becomes easier to build, developers become more influential. Frameworks like React & Next.js. Hosting and DevOps automation tools like Netlify & Render. DBs like Mongo & Cockroach. These innovations simplify software and give each developer the ability to build products that would have taken a small army not that long ago. The secular trends of developers as decision-makers and the primary user of software shifting from people to other software are shifting the ground beneath our feet. It’s easier than ever to scale a product to millions of users with a 10 person team — you need look no further than Clubhouse’s use of Agora to see that the developer and infrastructure revolution is here (they have ONE full-time iOS dev!) and it’s opened up opportunities to take on the consumer internet giants. Their infrastructure was as much a moat as their network effects. Those days are now over. Where does Europe sit in this technology revolution? For all the advantages Europe has had in terms of talent, academia and a few big outcomes we’ve lagged the world in turning those advantages into commercial results. Linus Torvalds gave the software world perhaps two of it’s greatest gifts in the Linux kernel & git — but while those technologies originated in Europe, it was American companies like Github and RedHat that captured much of the enormity of the value created by the underlying continental tech. This paints a rosier picture than the comparable graph of market caps Europe has one of the largest developer ecosystems in the world. We benefit from an extremely well funded public university system from undergrad through to PhD. Many of these University programs are ranked at the top of the world. Yet we have no Stanford equivalent. Europe has had some big exits. MySQL was a huge win for the Nordics until it turned out that not that many people outside the founders inner circle made all that much money from it. Elastic was another mega win. The first major IPO of a developer led, open source core product in Europe. But these wins are isolated. Flickering sparks in the night start few blazing fires. We need to see a lot more of this.