5 Startup and Technology Predictions for 2020

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2020 is fast approaching, and the rate of change in the field of startups and technology continues at a brisk pace. Below are my predictions of 5 trends we will see in the startup and technology space

  1. React will continue to dominate
  2. Widespread K8s usage will turn out to be a fad
  3. Global developer wages will converge
  4. WeWork and its kin bomb
  5. IBM Open Source Projects Gain Popularity

React will continue to dominate

React, a web application technology created and supported by Facebook, has seen widespread adoption in the last 5 years with no signs of slowing down. It is as close to a ‘no-brainer’ pick as it comes in an industry that is rife with seemingly unlimited options when it comes to which technologies to choose for your next project.

React’s main strength is that it provides enough of a framework to allow software developers to developer their apps in a consistent manner, without being so complex that it becomes impossible to use. The main business advantage of React is that while it may not be perfect, it is harder to write bad code in React versus other technologies making it a safer choice than alternatives. It also prevents development teams from reinventing the wheel, but there have been plenty of frameworks that have tried that in the past and failed.

What React gets right is that it is easy to get started, and hard to make it hard.

Developers love complexity because they like challenge which often leads to software that is over engineered and hard to maintain. The React ecosystem has so far stayed relatively free of over complexity.

Next year I think we continue to see growth in React adoption, especially React Native which is a technology that allows developers to build Apps that are cross-platform mobile apps for iPhone and Android, but still perform as well as truly Native Apps. My firm, Shrine Development, has done a number of apps in React Native and they have turned out well. React Native has diverged from React, and I think a trend we will see if projects such as React Native Web gaining focus to reunite React and React Native.

Widespread K8s usage will turn out to be a fad

Kubernetes, also known as K8s, is a cloud deployment technology sponsored by Google. It’s purpose it to simplify how applications are deployed on cloud service providers such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google’s App Engine all while stopping companies from becoming too tied to just one provider. These are noble goals, but the reality is that these two goals inherently conflict and are based on a false premise.

The premise is that companies want the freedom to change their cloud providers, when in reality it is the absolute last thing a company would want to do. Indeed, that is why companies choose provides like Amazon for their hosting, they figure Amazon is not going out of business anytime soon so their servers should be safe and stable.

A company that uses Kubernetes is going to pay a cost for this flexibility because a system to support multiple providers is always going to more complex than a specialized system and this typically leads to a ‘lowest common denominator’ feature set. Kubernetes is not a terrible technology, nor a terrible choice, and in certain cases it is the correct choice. However, it is important to ensure that the flexibility of the system does not compromise the system.

Another unexpected cost of Kubernetes is the cost of becoming SOC2 compliant, which is increasingly becoming a requirement in the Enterprise world. SOC2 audits can easily cost over $100k+, and this cost can be even higher for businesses that have complex system infrastructures powered by Kubernetes.

The system orchestration space is ripe for an opinatied, streamlined, Kubernete-type system. In the meantime, I think businesses are best off sticking with PaaS systems such as Heroku, and utilizing the deployment tools provided by Amazon, Microsoft, etc. that are tailored to their specific cloud systems, Docker and containerization in general has proven its value. Docker is complex, but it is worth it. Kubernetes, while a solid choice in 2018 and 2019, it seeming to be complex and not worth it. (note: however, it is still far superior to rolling your own deployment systems!

Global developer wages will converge

The stigma of ‘off-shore’ development is quickly evaporating and as a result wages for developers around the world are starting to converge. This is driven by an unrelenting demand for technical talent, the rise in marketplaces such as Upwork and toptal and an increase in the reliability of communication platforms such as Slack. Overall, this is a wonderful trend, that will help increase stability globally as the productive people across the world begin collaborating on a daily basis.
This trend has been obvious for 20 years in the Enterprise world. What is happening now is that it is becoming the default for companies of all sizes to have a global team, and the mindset is not US + offshore.

While the economy in the Western world remains hot there are no downsides to this trend. If the world economies begin to slow down, developers in the US may feel the pinch as they start to feel the pressure to perform. I have found many US Developers are more interested in doing what they want to do, versus adding value to the business.

It is great that they are independent thinkers that want their own careers, and when the economy is hot and you can dictate your own terms it works out well. However, if the job market turns soft, then developers will be forced to add value, otherwise the companies they work for will be out of business. It has been a long time since developers have faced that type of pressure, and it may take some adjustment.

WeWork and its kin bomb

Since I started writing this article in early October the news of WeWork and its fall from grace has been everywhere. First off, WeWork is not the sign of a bubble or collective mania. WeWork had a single investor, Softbank, for its later rounds. However, the press and especially the armchair crowd on Twitter, tend to extrapolate one incident into a morale judgement day similar to a religion. And like every religion this one has a leader.

This time it is Scott Galloway. And like every time this happens, there is talk about how VC businesses are dumb and the focus should be on profit not growth. And like every cycle, this is a dumb idea. If you want to grow your business by profits, great- don’t take VC…

What WeWork will do is create a less friendly fundraising environment which will put investors into a more favorable position. It also may lead to reactive legislation that may damage the entire VC ecosystem, because 2020 is an election year and WeWork is an easy target.

It would not be surprising to see a ‘We The People Act’ that targets Wework type startups and in the process does something prohibitive like stopping VCs from re-investing their valuations, or getting their valuations government certified, or making startups pitch the governments for approval before launching in the name of the public good (opps, San Francisco beat me to it)

IBM Open Source Projects Gain Popularity

IBM is the most under-rated player in the open source community. In particular, they have 2 projects which solve real problems and are gaining adoption. The first project is called Keycloak, which is a hosted identity management solution, and the other is called Loopback 4, which is a Node.js/TypeScript platform for creating APIs.

Both of these projects are well maintained, and are focused on solving business problems as related to pushing the boundaries on the technology for the sake of pushing boundaries. One of the guidance principles of quality software is ‘Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should’.
IBM’s teams seem to understand that and focus their time on documenting their projects and making them friendly rather than chasing shiny objects. Whether IBM knows it or not, they have acquired the tools and talent to create the ultimate SaaS platform that could be the next Ruby on Rails. Whether they do it remains to be seen, but IBM does seem to be posed to be the breakout player in open source in 2020.

2020

2019 has been full of many ups and downs in the world of tech. With elections fast approaching and the usual fast pace of technological development it appears that 2020 will continue on the same path. With the tumultuous journey of startups such as WeWork, regulatory moves by lawmakers could be in the works. React Native’s consistency will ensure that it remains a mainstay for the time being. The stigma of offshore development will lessen as the business world becomes even more globalized and interconnected. K8’s flexibility will cause too many issues for companies to continue its use and IBM’s projects have the potential to bloom into something even greater.

Don’t want to actually have to worry about any of the above? Hit us up at Shrine Development and let us do the worrying while you focus on launching your business.

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