Exploring Tech's Deep Forest

Exploring Tech's Deep Forest
This entry is part 1 of 2 in the blogchain Deep Forest Tech

The tech industry isn’t what you think it is. 

When people think of the tech industry, they tend to think of startups. They see the companies that make up the FANGMAN stocks. They think about the apps they use to order delivery, hitch a ride, and book stays at condos. 

Actually, most software is invisible, and most tech companies aren’t noteworthy. I call these and the people that run them the deep forest tech.

You can see the outline of a forest from the outside, but not the inside. You don’t see most software. You don’t see most tech companies. You don’t see most developers. 

Invisible Software

Companies have internal software for a specific purposes. A property management company handle maintenance requests. A concrete company invoices their clients. A warehouse manages its inventory. The owner of a self-storage facility runs reports. These applications chug along in the background, solving boring, expensive problems.

Hidden Champions

“Most software businesses are silently marching along in the background. The best ones won’t be acquired any time soon. Why would you get rid of a $10 million/year annuity?” 

Austen Allred, founder of Lambda School

Where does this software come from? Probably from a company you’ve never heard of. Most small cities have at least one agency and a smattering of freelancers providing technological solutions for companies that can’t afford (or choose not to invest in) in-house development. In 2019, I attended a conference (remember conferences?) that focused on technology solutions for the logistics industry. Some people don’t realize that not only are there companies that provide these solutions, there are enough of them to fill several conferences. These hidden champions are everywhere, permeating every industry.

Dark Matter Developers

Most developers are silently chugging away at problems. Not blogging, not tweeting, just getting work done. Scott Hanselman calls them “dark matter developers:”

My coworker Damian Edwards and I hypothesize that there is another kind of developer than the ones we meet all the time. We call them Dark Matter Developers. They don’t read a lot of blogs, they never write blogs, they don’t go to user groups, they don’t tweet or facebook, and you don’t often see them at large conferences

Scott Hanselman

Marching Into The Deep Forest

While I do write & post online, I’ve spent most in the deep forest software:

  • Proposal software for agencies.
  • Location intelligence for LTL trucking companies.
  • Study abroad management software for universities.

Don’t discount or ignore this space. Competition is fierce and branches are thin at the edge of the forest. Most people don’t want to venture deeper. But for those that do, a world of opportunity awaits.