Hundreds of new startups are likely as a result of the economic crisis and a rise in unemployment among software engineers. The simple reason is that unemployed software engineers will have the time to band together to work on new projects.
— The Largest Risk in Silicon Valley is Taking No Risk - Why the Economic Downturn Will Spawn Hundreds of Startups (via mikehudack)
This will be true, to an extent. Rich people in California who can afford to go 6 months without a job will band together to work on new projects.
But developers don’t make the salaries they did in 2000, and many haven’t been employed for long enough to have built up enough savings to avoid getting another full-time job immediately when they lose theirs. In reality, many good developers can’t afford to waffle around in coffeeshops for a few months. They have to eat and pay rent somehow. And they need health insurance. Some have families. The only option is to get another full-time job as quickly as possible.
And many of the biggest employers have a non-negotiable clause in their hiring contracts that forbids software developers from having side projects (or claims full rights over them, which is even worse), even when constructed entirely at home with personal resources. That Google “20% time” gimmick doesn’t sound so great right now, does it? (If I had succeeded in getting Amazon to hire me in 2006, Instapaper could never have happened, and Tumblr would probably be nonexistent or very different. Glad that didn’t work out.)
If you really want to revitalize innovation, startups, and self-employment, we need to provide a better safety net for people who try it on their own. IRAs were a great step toward this by providing good retirement-account options without being employed by a big company. The next step is guaranteed health care for all U.S. residents so people aren’t unfairly stuck in their corporate jobs so their kids can go to the doctor.