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Close to the Money

Janahan Sivaraman
Janahan Sivaraman
2 min read
Close to the Money

You know the value of your code.  Your boss does not.

One app my old team built made 90% of the company's revenue.  The code was so terrible it took 45 minutes to compile.

Even though the app was slow and clunky we still got paid. 10% raises just for “meeting expectations” (back when inflation was 2%).

But the teams operating the infrastructure would only get a 4% raise.

Why is that?

Money flows similarly to energy. Living things closest to consuming the sun’s rays extract the most energy out of it. Analogously humans closest to the transaction extract the most cash out of it.

You’ll notice the sales people at your company get disproportionately compensated.

It follows that an engineer working on a revenue producing app will disproportionately get more rewards than an engineer working far from it.

The people who divvy up compensation will not collectively understand that the app revenue depends on infrastructure.

They will rarely fight the natural flow of money.

Infrastructure teams are commodities to them.

I’m sure you’re thinking: “Janahan, I’m on an infrastructure team and I love the work. How can I get PAID to do work I enjoy?

The only way to salvage the situation is to strategically partner with a money making product. A money making product is one that impacts the company’s bottom line. Get close to the energy source.

Most of my career I’ve been on application teams. As close to the money as possible. I’ve worked on portfolio management software, Adtech, and video analytics. Recently, I switched to an infrastructure team for a HIPAA compliant cloud.

The reason I was okay with making that switch was because the teams that need HIPAA compliance generate high margin revenue. It’s easy for me to point and say the infrastructure I designed and drove enables fat margins.

Not only does it enable fat margins. It also enables speed of delivery so even more money can be captured.

There is no money like new money.

The key is to make noise about that association.

How your infrastructure made delivering software quicker. How it scales. How developers love it.

Management will not intuitively and collectively realize the causality. You’ll need to lead them to the answer, step by step - and don’t skip any steps on the way to that conclusion!

That way, when it’s time to negotiate compensation, you can point to the revenue attributable to the software you develop and operate.

Bottom line, if you can’t explain how your code makes the company money, it’s going to cost you.


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