The Free Agency of Flex Development

Tracking Flex developers from job to job is getting to be like tracking star athletes in the off season. In recent months there have been several posts of very prominent Flex developer talent being ‘picked up’ by high profile Flex agencies. We are graciously being informed of everything by their blogs… now if only it was proper, err, socially acceptable for folks to share the salaries and incentives they were getting in these sweet deals — then it really would be like sports deals.  Here’s a couple of major recent ‘signings’ to name a few… Doug McCune was drafted out of perpetual consulting bliss by Universal Mind (UM) to become a full time team member. Doug claims the kicker of his move was the team — in his words, ‘the best developers, no question about it’. Doug announced his move in a lengthy and impassioned blog post laden with supportive comments. It’s a loss to the independent consulting force, but no doubt a huge win for UM. The word on the street is that Doug ‘did it for the projects’. Combine that with his obvious enthusiasm for teamwork and learning, and who can really blame him. 

Another recent and prominent addition to UM is Joe Johnston, AIR UI prodigy who has become very well known for a certain voice-enabled iPhone app. In his proud-post, Joe gives little insight into his decision to move from one full time office job at Knoware to a new remote full time job at UM. I don’t think leveraging his ‘newly completed home office’ was the most significant reason. Joe isn’t exactly new to the scene, but his rise to notoriety has been quick and exciting. Perhaps his move onward (and upward?) is a sign of natural career acceleration one experiences when they work hard and apply their talents towards highly visible projects.

Just this week, I was shocked to learn Juan Sanchez of scalenine fame is joining Effective UI (EUI) full time. Another Flex design/development house known so well for eBay’s San Dimas as well as their boxer-short sponsorship of 360|Flex Seattle. The most surprising thing about Juan’s move is that it is, in fact, a move. Juan is actually relocating to Denver, avoiding the bathrobe work/life-style that Doug and Joe have subscribed to. One can only imagine what it took for EUI to secure the Sir Isaac Newton of Flex-able interface design. From what I’m told, a Flex-worthy salary in Denver could go very far.

Congrats to the very talented developers above. I can’t say I agree with each and every move — but then again, I don’t know all the details either. It seems Flex salaries are being offered without concern for location. This means that folks living anywhere are getting SF dollars in non-SF-expensive areas (SF being measured as the most expensive in the country). As long as you can save to send your kids to college, remain excited about the projects and continue to grow as developers, then I’m sure you are all doing very well. 

And to those looking to move on, and probably up, joining a big consulting firm or development/design house is not the only option. EVERYONE (including Ribbit) is hiring and there’s never been more opportunity than now. Weigh your options carefully. Consider not just salary, location and team, but very rewarding equity (when possible) and learning opportunities.

Take it from someone who has gone from startup, to a ‘career job’, to startup, to consulting, to another ‘career job’, to startup again… you can draw benefits and opportunities with each move you make — and it may take a while to realize what your true goals really are.




Nick Sophinos

As an independent contractor for the last few years, often I will speak to full-time-perm folks at various companies who will tell me something along the line of “so, you are an independent contractor? I used to do that for this company but you know, I just liked everyone so much, I became full-time.”
I politely smile, nod my head and think, “nah, you just lost your nerve!”

Erik Loehfelm

Hi Chuck! Long-time listener, first time call… er commenter? [sure]

I have the inside scoop on Joe Johnston. I worked with him at Knoware when we were in the ‘fishbowl’ – ask him about it sometime. I have 4th and 8th hand knowledge that Joe received a $1 million dollar signing bonus, a 4,500 square foot condo in Miami (next to J-Lo!), and an Escalade with 22″ spinners.

Personally, I think he got hosed!

Good luck to all on their new gigs and keep up the great work Chuck!

– e

Jerry Bires

My employer, Accolo, is managing a full-time Flash/Flex Developer position for Fluid, Inc. in San Francisco that is doing great online retail automation. They offering $2K for referrals who get hired and stick for 90 days. The salary range is up to $140K. Anyone interested in the full job description can see it here and make a referral or apply.

The kind of retail work Fluid is doing is here:


Well… I’ve been developing for about a year now in Flex and about 3 years in AS2 an flash. I hardly know where to apply – or find firms that do develop in Flex and AS3.

I feel Flex is new, and just now people are realizing its potential and looking for developers.

If interested: yozef at yozef dot com

return undefined; » Universal-er Mind

[…] Note: The rest of this post is a fairly detailed explanation on my reasoning behind this move. I began writing it simply for posterity and my own benefit but after reading Ryan and Chuck’s posts I suppose it can serve as another perspective/response to their discussions as well. If you could give a rat’s bleep about my thought process (99.9999% of you by my estimation), you can stop reading now. […]

Universal-er Mind «

[…] this move. I began writing it simply for posterity and my own benefit but after reading Ryan and Chuck’s posts I suppose it can serve as another perspective/response to their discussions as well. […]

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