Ha ha, guys… Don’t take anything posted on April Fool’s Day too seriously. ;-)
Time now for a real post: a report from BarCampOttawa3.
I am writing this blog post at BarCampOttawa3. The Ottawa crew have done a great job organizing; and I heard that up to 200 people attended this edition! Great job guys.
Compared to Montreal, I noticed that there is a much bigger cross-section of the technology world represented here. In addition to the usual Web 2.0 enthusiasts, there are also traditional application developers (C++, etc.) as well as microchip designers, RF design engineers, embedded systems designers, and even one guy who has a startup working on internet-connected door locks. All of this makes for a much bigger cross section of possible discussion topics and a much more concrete reason to run multi-tracks. (They are running 4 concurrent tracks at this BarCamp.) Until we start getting this kind of crazy cross-sectional representation, I think our current tack with a “1.5” track BarCampMontreal2 will work very well (1 big presentation room, 1 smaller discussion room).
Another thing that was immediately obvious was a real mix of people and cultures: Indian accents, German accents, Japanese accents… Ah, wonderful multiculturalism… In this current climate of backlash against minorities in la belle province, and as a member of a minority myself, I want to emphasize how much fun it was and very refreshing to be around this kind of atmosphere. We have much to gain from accepting other cultures into our reality.
OK, enough political commentary; let’s get on to my thoughts on the presentations. I had time to write up two of them.
10 (or so) Legal Considerations when Starting a Tech Company
One great presentation I attended was by Mr. Mike Dunleavy (firstname.lastname@example.org, 613.599.9600 x268) from the law firm of Labarge Weinstein, called 10 (or so) Legal Considerations when Starting a Tech Company.
A couple of things I learned from the presentation:
The lifetime capital gains exemption has recently been raised to $750,000.
You can establish a family trust to save potentially millions in taxes; the idea is to split the shares of your company with family and friends, in order to use their exemption limits. So when your company is sold for $7.5M and you’ve used a family trust to split the shares among 10 friends and family, the entire amount is tax-free. Seems like a huge tax loophole to me, but at the moment it’s a perfectly legal maneuver.
He talked about many other important things including IP Agreements, Shareholder Agreements, and Tax considerations. It was a fascinating presentation and doubly more so because it is a Canadian-based view (previously I had only attended such presentations in the U.S.).
I’d personally love to see this type of legal presentation at BarCampMontreal2, so if you’re a Montreal lawyer specializing in helping Tech Startups, please contact me. It would be wonderful to have you with us.
Ruby on Rails and What It Entails
Another presentation I attended, Ruby on Rails and What It Entails, was given by Tobias Lütke, a CoFounder of jadedpixel.com. They are the guys behind the amazing Shopify.
I found it interesting that the first and foremost point he made was that Ruby on Rails developers believe in “Beautiful Code”. The reasoning is that Beautiful Code leads to Happiness. Happiness leads to productivity. Productivity leads to met deadlines. Finally, met deadlines leads to successful products.
I really agree with this; throughout my various incarnations as an engineer and developer I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time hacking on really, really, really, ugly code. As soon as a system becomes a steaming pile of junk, it’s just no longer “fun” to work on, and having fun is really key to productivity.
Tobias claims that happy teams of 4 using RoR outperform normal teams of 40 using outdated technology.
Another interesting thing he said is that it is extremely easy to replace pieces of Ruby on Rails with natively compiled C, so as you observe the loads that are placed on your application you can optimize the most time-critical parts if necessary.
I do really have to investigate Ruby on Rails a lot more.