Are the glory days of the 'solo founder' a thing of the past?

Every few years someone will declare that N years ago was the perfect time for a solo founder: a golden age when a single developer could build a product by themself, release it, and change the world. But that time has now passed because, reasons.

In the early 80s, all it took to make a game was a computer, some graph paper, and a lot of determination.
The Rise and Fall of the Lone Game Developer

Now is not the time for people to beaver away on their masterpieces: now is the time to stop dreaming, grow up, get a real job.

The big design companies are doing all the great things. The big whatevs are doing all the great blah-di-blah.

One person can't make a movie that competes with a $100 million behemoth.

A single movie maker can't write, cast, direct, shoot, and edit a film.

A single musician can't put together a ground-breaking album. A single game developer can't win the heart and minds of millions.

20 years ago. 5 years ago, sure. It was a golden age. But those days are gone now.

If you succeed, you'll be mimicked and copied into oblivion by the rampaging hordes of zombie developers. Your success will be fleeting and pointless. Forget it. Take it from me, an old timey whiner.

The big players have all the capital, connections, and momentum. The little guy hasn't got a hope.

Once they did, but not any more. Back in my day, wow, the sky was the limit.

But forget it son. You haven't got a hope.

Bull fucking bull shit. Fiddlesticks and Flapdoodle!*

Nostalgia is denial - denial of the painful present... the name for this denial is golden age thinking - the erroneous notion that a different time period is better than the one one's living in - it's a flaw in the romantic imagination of those people who find it difficult to cope with the present.
Midnight in Paris

Individuals are more powerful than ever.

Competing for big investment is hard. But competing against big money is easier than ever.

Big money is more risk-averse than ever. It won't invest in a movie unless the TV show was a hit. It would sooner fund a sequel than a new story. It would sooner fund a franchise than a sequel. Even Presidential candidates are only put forward as part of a franchise: you voted for his dad, you voted for his brother, now here comes Bush Part III: Armageddon, or Clinton Part II.

When all the big money is dumb money, the market of ideas is wide open.

All the innovation is left to the little guy, the tiniest entrants in the market.

Nothing is settled. Nothing is finished. Nothing is decided.

Everything is completely rewritten to a whole new audience every few years, faster than ever.

The long tail is longer and weirder than you can ever imagine. [tweet this]

New platforms emerge and dissolve faster than big business can turn its gaze.

The little guy has more advantages than ever.

Publishing and distribution are in the hands of the masses, now more than ever. And that's the future: more market power in the hands of the individual than ever.

The cornucopia of the commons. The solo founder has access to the exact same open source material as the biggest players (and doesn't need to argue with legal before they're permitted to do so!) The cost of everything is down.

Now is the best time there's ever been. The future is even better. The golden age isn't in the past — it's now. This is the greatest time to be a creator!

You don't need to connect with the market or the money — you only need to get in touch with the hearts and mind of individuals. Reach out, honestly, lovingly: and touch a single person's heart. A single person's mind. One at a time. Tap. Tap. Tap.

That's all you ever needed to do.


* My editor is English.

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