[A picture of private offices at Fog Creek Software] Alert! This ancient trifle retrieved from the Joel on Software archive is well-past its expiration date. Proceed with care.

Joel on Software

2000/12/09

by Joel Spolsky
Saturday, December 09, 2000

This month's Wired magazine finally admits what everyone has known for three months: Digital Convergence's completely moronic ":CueCat" is simply the most expensive, most meritless idea since Ishtar. (I wrote about this three months ago.) There is no longer a single CueCat barcode to be seen anywhere. Surprise, surprise.

This company now has 265 employees, all for a product that nobody wants. Since I posted my flame three months ago, not a single reader has written in defense of the CueCat. (Quite a lot of people pointed out that it has been hacked and makes a nice cheap barcode reader). Which makes me wonder how not one of those 265 geniuses in Dallas noticed that their company was working on a product which not a single person wants.

265 people, assuming a conservative cost of, say, $50,000 each, costs over $13m a year just in salary. Not to mention the cost of building and mailing out the millions of barcodes that are choking landfills from coast to coast.

Somebody is footing the bill. The rumors are that the company raised $190,000,000 in VC on this little boondoggle. I think a few investors are going to be very, very pissed when the whole thing goes up in smoke.


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About the author.

I’m Joel Spolsky, co-founder of Fog Creek Software, a New York company that proves that you can treat programmers well and still be highly profitable. Programmers get private offices, free lunch, and work 40 hours a week. Customers only pay for software if they’re delighted. We make Trello, easy web-based collaboration software, FogBugz, an enlightened bug tracking and software development tool, and Kiln, a distributed source control system that will blow your socks off. I’m also the co-founder and CEO of Stack Exchange. More about me.

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