I have been overwhelmed by the positive reactions and growing user count.
So I decided to quit my job and start working on TotalFinder full time.
Born to make something people want
I have been doing some open-source work for a while in my spare time and my tools for web developers became quite popular. My Firefox extensions are active every day in about 50k Firefox installations (according to AMO). Of course, I would like to improve them, support them and work on similar tools all the day long, but I was unable to figure out any sustainable way to earn money from Firefox addons.
On the other hand Mac software seems to be another kind of beast. During the last few months I've got so many emails from people excited about TotalFinder and declaring they will buy it when 1.0 is out. And personally I recognize many indie software companies who successfully develop small software on the Mac platform. The indie culture is there.
As of today I believe TotalFinder is a great chance for me to bootstrap BinaryAge Software - a small product company working on software for power users and developers.
Yes mom, I did it again!
Quite frankly, this is not my first attempt to quit a job and start rolling my own product. It was three years ago when I decided to quit a dream position of Tools Engineer on the Mafia2 game and go my own way. You should note that Mafia2 was released a few days ago after an unbelievable 8 years of development. You have to check it out, it is gold poured by sweat and tears. This is almost an emotional moment for me because I spent almost 3 years on the team. I was responsible for tools like the exporting plugin for 3DSMAX, Motion Builder and some plugins for an in-house game editor.
After leaving I switched my life into economy mode and spent one year doing consultancy to save some money while actively looking for co-founders. I teamed up with other guys from a local community and tried to build some cool web-based web builder and go big ("FriendFeed has to buy us or die!"). One guy left the team after two months after he got an offer for "paid work" and the second one never managed to leave his day job. I ended working alone full time night and day on the project for more than 8 months and burned out without seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. But this story has been written already elsewhere.
For the last 15 months I was working for Transpond.com (formerly iWidgets.com). Transpond is a small VC-backed SF-based company. They have been working on a really interesting concept of a web-based builder for small web applications. Something I was exploring really hard for the last several months. They offered me a job to help them build the product. I was tele-working for them from Prague over Skype and because I still stayed in economy mode, this helped me to pay off my debts and save some money for another round.
This month Transpond was acquired by WebTrends. This is big news and a great achievement for Peter Yared and his team. Congratulations! But for me it is the best moment to leave. WebTrends seem to be great guys who are doing a fine job, but 400+ headcount company is freakingly huge for a hacker like me. I have ambitions to build my own stuff the way I see fit. Not working on tedious client projects and selling my best time instead of building something really useful.
Thank you all
And that is why I'd love to build software for passionate users. The users like you or myself who would not buy something if they couldn't see real value in it. The users who are autonomous, involved and sharply honest. The users who are not forced to work with the software to pay the bills, but users who have deliberately decided to use the software because it makes them happier, more productive or simply better. Those are the users I want to build software for. The Macintosh community seems to be a great fit. I'm quite new here and still learning. But if users stick with my products, I know I'm doing it well. Thank you all for showing me great support in this direction so far.
It was never an easy decision to drop regular paychecks and bet on some possible future software sales. I would guess some readers of this blog are also developers who have their own pet projects or product ideas and may be thinking about something similar. Maybe today is not yet the right time to jump straight into it for you, but you may at least follow me on this roller-coaster path by reading this blog.