In the startup world, winners and losers are routinely defined by the dollars in their bank accounts. IPO, acquisition, or failure seem to be the only options. And if the cash train is leaving the station, you need to be on board or risk being left behind. Or do you?
There’s a fourth option no one talks about. You can always walk away.
When Omgpop was purchased by Zynga last week, that’s exactly what app developer Shay Pierce did. He left the safety of joining Zynga behind to stand for something he believes in – the freedom to continue creating apps on his own terms.
Pierce had created a casual game on his own time, prior to joining the Omgpop team. The game, Connectrode, is what I would call a mashup of the Nintendo classic Dr. Mario and a Sodoku grid, with what look like computer chips in place of Dr. Mario’s virus eliminating pills. More importantly, it’s fun.
When it became clear he would have to choose between his independently developed game and continuing with his job at Zynga, Pierce choose his passion.
Maybe this resonates with me because I’ve had several times in my life where I chose what I felt was the right thing to do in favor of a more predictable outcome. In my life, each case instance worked out for the best, but at the time I made the decision, the build up to making the decision was incredibly stressful. In the moments leading up to each decision, I felt incredibly alone.
Many times in life we are presented with heroes who make the obvious choice. Sports stars who sign the big contract or business people who accept the big payday. I’m not suggesting there’s anything wrong with taking the obvious path. I’m also not suggesting Shay Pierce is a hero for doing what he felt was right. I am suggesting it takes a fair amount of courage to choose an alternative that isn’t the “safe one”. It takes even more guts to write about it, as he did in this Gamasutra article.
Here’s hoping that choice leads to an iPad version of Connectrode optimized for the Retina display. In the meantime, if you own an iPhone or iPad and want to give Shay Pierce a truly happy ending, consider spending the $0.99 to download Connectrode. It will make his decision seem a little less crazy.
I always make choices which seem difficult for me and irresponsible for others. Unlike Shay, I cannot walk casually from one company to another and most of the time the past experience weights little in the new place. Anyway, I cherish the thought of being true to one’s dreams and I wish the society would appreciate this individual approach to life and understand that ultimately it serves all of us.