Do all software engineers collectively create X amount of wealth, or do some create lots of wealth in teams embedded in particular firms? We have many examples of engineer-entrepreneurs who’ve made large fortunes. But one of the reasons we like entrepreneurship is that successful entrepreneurs rarely capture all of the value they create. They generate a great deal of consumer surplus — and we generally see this as a feature, not a bug. It would sound odd to our ears if someone argued that Marc Benioff should be capturing a much bigger slice of the value he’s created for thousands of businesses and consumers around the world. In a similar vein, many workers produce more value than they capture, and of course many workers benefit mightily from access to capital owned by others. It’s very hard to adjudicate who deserves what, which is why compensation is best left to a decentralized trial-and-error discovery process, e.g., a competitive marketplace.
Not all engineers are created equal. I largely