Software Developers – Mind Your Footprint!

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 12.45.55I’ve been running a software services operation for the past few years and spend a lot of time searching for great software developers to work on our internal projects (product builds) and to work with our clients (mainly enterprise stack, and some product work too).

I find that the best way to search, identify and make contact with the best developers is by looking at their digital footprint.  I’m not talking about their Linkedin profile – although that is part of it.

I’m more interested in activity on Github – how many check-ins, stars and followers…. how well is the code written and documented.  Likewise, I’m interested in their presence on StackOverflow – how active are they in term of asking and answering questions relating to software development.

After that, I’m interested to see what in the blog, or patterns of communication on Twitter.

Using this approach has told us a lot about candidates before we approach them.  In many cases we’re able to narrow our search quite significantly based on the patterns we see in peoples digital footprint.

In terms of career management, the key questions for software developers are; what are my career objectives and is my online brand enabling me to achieve those objectives.

To make the best moves in today’s competitive software industry;

  • Keep your skills relevant to where you are today, and where you want to be in the future
  • Make sure you’ve got some code you can be proud of posted on GitHub
  • Have a decent presence on StackOverflow – (but don’t go too over-board or people will wonder how you manage to make time to develop software!)
  • Show that you’ve got a positive attitude and communication skills to match your technical prowess

… all of this will wash through your digital footprint.  If it looks solid, well balanced and rings true, the opportunities you seek will come find you.

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The Case for a Partial Withdrawal of Ireland from the Eurozone

Dan O’Brien rates the collapse of the Euro as more likely than not.  Meanwhile, George Soros has commented that the Eurozone fiasco could well prove lethal.  David McWilliams highlights the ‘lootocracy’ effect the Euro is having in Greece – the same is going on here in Ireland.

This blog sets out the case for a planned partial withdrawal of Ireland from the Eurozone which could take place during 2013.

The main options available for the Eurozone appear to be (a) further integration of Eurozone members involving a pooling of sovereignty or (b) the break-up of the Eurozone with members reverting to national currencies.  In the current euro sceptic environment option (a) is not viable, as citizens of the Eurozone would not support such a move.  Option (b) on the other end of the spectrum would pose existential questions for the whole European Community project – in the case of a disorderly disintegration of the Eurozone the potential for catastrophic wealth destruction is alarming.

Option (c) should be considered – an orderly partial withdrawal of peripheral countries involving devaluation, debt restructuring, but protecting selected cross-border segments of their economies which would remain Euro denominated.

In April this year Arnab Das and Nouriel Roubini set out the formula for an orderly Eurozone divorce where a fundamental restructuring of debt in Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Spain and Italy took place.  As part of this process, these countries exit the Euro through a devaluation and revert to their original currencies on an agreed basis with the core Eurozone countries.

I agree with the Roubini approach of amicable divorce, but think we should seek to retain the Euro for three elements of the Irish economy: IDA clients (i.e. foreign multinational firms), the IFSC and the SEPA payments infrastructure.  Banks in the IFSC should be subject to regulation by a pan-European regulator rather than the Central Bank of Ireland and should also be subjected to the Financial Transaction Tax.

With this selective Euro exit strategy, Ireland would be able to achieve debt sustainability whilst also regaining export competitiveness.  The vexed question of how to reduce government spending would be resolved – public service and social welfare would be paid in Punts.

Partial withdrawal would be a complex and difficult process – one which would need to be carefully planned and might require the temporary imposition of capital controls on domestic bank accounts.  It would nonetheless be a process which addresses the fundamental issues of debt sustainability faced by Ireland, and other peripheral Eurozone countries.

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Why Ireland Should Burn Senior Bond Holders

Over the past few weeks, it has become apparent that the scale of debt facing the Irish tax payer is so large (€220-€350bn) as to be unmanageable.  The Irish government is telling us that we must face up to this debt and is seeking to resolve our difficulties by taking another €100bn debt (at 5% interest rate) in order to cover our commitments.

I have a few questions that the Irish nation should ask itself before we take any serious decisions.
  • Why is the Irish tax payer responsible for debts caused by rogue bankers?
  • How did this happen to us?
  • Is there a better alternative to the EU/IMF bailout?
Who are the Bond holders?
The origins of this problem to back to the creation of the Euro in 1999.  By unifying the currencies of the Eurozone countries, it opened up a vast European money market.  Banks in Germany and France saw fit to invest their depositors funds in the purchase of bonds in Irish banks.  They believed that they could get better return on their money by selling it to Irish banks on the international money markets.  A €20bn savings portfolio in Germany was thus made available to Anlgo Irish Bank by the purchase of €20bn of Anglo bonds by the German bank.  Anglo in turn split the €20bn into smaller packages of €100-€500 which it lent to its property development customers in Ireland.  In total, German banks invested €130bn Irish bank bonds, whilst UK banks invested a further £140bn in Ireland – some of it through the bond market, much of it through acquisition of Irish banks allowing them to lend directly here (Ulster Bank – RBS, Bank of Scotland Ireland – Halifax).
This banking strategy led to an unprecedented and sustained rise in Irish property prices from the late-90s to 2007.  This was exacerbated by loose financial regulation and tax incentives.  It caused a major aberration in the economy, turning an excellent export-oriented economy into a credit-addicted property-mad country.  We are now paying the price.
How did the Irish Tax Payer end up on the Hook?
In 2008, the Irish government gave a blanket guarantee to all deposits and bonds held in the Irish banks.  To include the bond holders was a monumental error – in one stoke merging the Irish bank balance sheets with the national balance sheet.
The correct strategy for the Irish government should be to force the senior bond holders in Anglo, AIB and BOI to have a debt-for-equity-swap.  In other words, the people who pumped their money into the Irish banks should now lose that money – it is they that should pay the full price of reckless lending not the Irish tax payer.
Let those bond holders take full ownership of the Irish banks (exclude the national payments infrastructure from this).  This will get the entire bank bailout off the national balance sheet and allow us to focus on getting the national deficit under control.
EU/IMF bailout?
National Assets as Collateral
It is proposed by the EU/IMF that Ireland should take on another €100bn (or more) of debt so that the bond holders can be paid cash, and the tax holder be saddled with debt.  We must not agree to this.  The terms of the deal include taking the entire national assets of Ireland as collateral (airports, motorways, ports, ESB, Bord Gais, National Pension Fund and Atlantic drilling/fishing rights).
The total Irish tax take last year was €33bn – interest payments on the bailout alone would consume €10-15bn per annum. The result of entering into that arrangement would be to allow all Irish national assets ending up in the hands of the hedge funds.  By 2014 we would be renting the country back from hedge funds.  We must not allow this happen.
Moral Hazard
We cannot allow those who recklessly lent to Irish banks to get away unharmed.  They must be punished for the bad risks they have taken.
The bond holders must be burnt.  If we do not take this course of action, the money markets will see that the bailout plan is doomed to failure – and will exploit an unworkable deal, causing another crises and compounding the losses of the Irish citizens.


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