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The Semi Technical Class

There have typically been two groups of people in companies - those who are technical and those who aren't. If you are technical, you find yourself working on the product (ie in eng, design, pm, etc) and if you're not, you end up supporting the product (ie in sales, marketing, support, etc).

Over the last few years we've seen another group emerge - the semi technical folks. These people tend to be younger and more tech savvy. They grew up with computers and understand how they work. Sometimes they can even write SQL. But regardless of their technical proficiency these folks are eager to use technology to solve problems. They just don't know how to write production code.

I've always thought about software on 2 dimensions: structured vs. customizable. Business users tend to need more structured products and engineers like very customizable products. Business users contort themselves to fit the product and engineers contort products to fit them.

Now that we have an entire generation of folks who grew up computer native, we're seeing a new behavior emerge. Instead of having to use very rigid software with top down defined workflows, these folks want to customize their tools and workflows. They would rather start from a blank slate and build their own tools rather than use structured software straight out of the box.

That's why we've seen the rise of products like Airtable, Zapier and Retool. These products allow people to build their own databases, workflows, dashboards, and the like through a UI. They've given people the ability to build, deploy, and update their own software customized to them without having to write code.

The rise of these companies have gone hand in hand with the growth in the tech enabled services market. Tech enabled services aren't selling a product so as much as they are selling a service scaled through software. Hence they are light on engineers but still need lots of software, especially internal tools. So the combo of the semi technical class and the need for more internal software make conditions ripe for a new category of work software.