Whatever Happened to the Micro ISV?

In September of 2004, Erik Sink wrote an article on MSDN about the “micro ISV” — the one-person ISV. One of the things I’ve been contemplating is whatever happened to these companies. Fifteen years ago, the world seemed to have dozens of them building applications we all used every day. Today I’m challenged to name one. Yet about one-fifth of the ISV segment is the one-person shop. Bill Dunlap, the Visual C++ product manager, recently asked our research team to work through our primary research to find out whatever there was to be known about them. Here are a couple of points research came back with:

  • Micro ISVs are not on the cutting edge of technologies — with about twice as many micro ISVs saying they’re targeting Windows 3.11 or before vs. “big” ISVs
  • Micro ISVs are much less likely to be creating Web applications than the “big” ISVs

I have to say that I was surprised. I would have figured that the smaller ISVs would be more likely to take a bet on the latest technology in the hopes of becoming the next big thing (Visio or Groove as examples).

What do you think? Who are today’s hottest micro ISVs?

Comments (3)

  1. Garry Trinder says:

    Hottest MicroIndependSoftwareVendor ? = Microsoft. Started with Bill and Paul it’s now everythere …

    The problem with MicroISV are following – if they are profitable – they grow and hire more people, if they are not – they are closing or simply invisible.

    As well – MicroISV unable to compete hard with big companies in vertical markets, they can ocupy only small markets no one of big players bother to enter.

    Ok. As for answer on your question – one I can remember – is http://www.sysinternals.com/aboutus.shtml – but as I’ve predicted – they grow http://www.winternals.com/companyinfo/careers.asp

  2. Take a look around at the world of blogging software – there are lots of micro ISVs to choose from. I bought a blog reader from one (FeedDemon), and a blog editor from another (BlogJet).

  3. mheller says:

    It’s awfully hard to design, build, test, document, market, and sell apps all by yourself. There are just too many skills required, too many tasks to do, and not enough time to do them all alone if you want to get to market in time for anyone to care.

    It doesn’t help that IDE vendors (including Microsoft with VSTS) have started to bundle different tools for architects, developers, and testers. Am I an architect? Yes. Am I a developer? Yes. Am I a tester? Yes.