On Consultancy Acquisition

If you had asked me two years ago, I would have said that purchasing a service company makes very little sense.

A service company like 8th Light doesn’t typically possess products or intellectual property worth mentioning. Instead, the worth of a service company lies in its people, and people can’t be bought.

Apparently, I was wrong. Earlier this year Living Social acquired one of our peers, InfoEther. And just this month Groupon acquired our sister company and biggest competitor, Obtiva. Groupon has also purchased several other software development companies not unlike 8th Light, and a pattern is unmistakably emerging.

In today’s business environment we know that fast-growing startups desperately require talent to quench an almost endless thirst for software development. For this reason, a mature team of skilled consultants seems appealing, despite the heavy price tag.

And yet, it has become evident to all involved that the acquisition of our peers has left a significant void—a void that is already exhibiting lasting effects on the software community. Clients who confidently hired these consultancies have found themselves adrift without a development team.

Consultants—many of whom were the invaluable leaders, free thinkers, and boundary pushers of our profession—are being integrated into parent companies where they must focus their attention and efforts on corporate goals. The onlookers, collaborators, and colleagues who regularly attend user groups and observe our culture’s practices from the outside have lost a bit of hope.

Because of these concerns, and in light of the priority shifts that have taken place in our community, 8th Light would like to take this opportunity to make it clear that we are—as always—dedicated to building strong client and craftsmen relationships, and have no intention of selling.

To our existing clients: 8th Light is honored to be your development partner. We will continue to develop your project with the highest level of quality we can achieve while delivering features according to your schedule and budget.

To our future clients: We are growing faster than ever to accommodate the needs of companies like yours. Trust that we will evolve with integrity and caution, refusing to compromise the high standards, quality, or principles of software craftsmanship that are associated with our name. 8th Light’s culture (which values curiosity, creativity, intelligence, and cooperation) is, and always has been, our truest asset.

To our craftsmen and apprentices: The dedication, persistence, and imaginative vision you regularly contribute to our company are appreciated more than you could know. It is an honor and privilege to work with, learn from, and grow because of such talented craftsmen.

To future apprentices and craftsmen: If building superior software is your passion, there is no more exciting or challenging environment than 8th Light. Our craftsmen will motivate and encourage you to grow in every facet of software development. If that’s not enough, our Master Craftsman—Uncle Bob—offers a wealth of knowledge not limited to software.

To the software community at large: 8th Light will always be dedicated to improving the state of our industry. We'll ensure that SCNA will be a great conference this year and for years to follow. Our Chicago office is open to you every Friday afternoon—please come by anytime to join us for lunch and to learn with us during 8th Light University.

8th Light was founded five years ago with a vision not just for quality software development, but for creating a different kind of business practice—one that is less concerned with end games, temporary success, or finances, but instead with creating an ethos of attention, innovation, originality, and consistency. Because of this, here at 8th Light we are proudly and profoundly devoted to our community, our collaborators, our clients, and our craft—and we remain appreciative of the respect, loyalty, and independence each has offered us in return.

There is no reason for us to risk these relationships.

Micah Martin
8th Light

Micah Martin, Chairman, Founder

Micah Martin is co-founder of 8th Light and is known for his open source work such as FitNesse, Limelight, Joodo, and Speclj.