Koder Turns Freelance Developers into Bounty-Hunting Hired Guns

A new platform named ‘Koder’ is hoping to turn more freelance developers into “hired guns.”

“The hourly billing model in software development is broken,” says Koder Founder and CEO Elmer Morales. “It means low-performing coders get paid regardless of what they complete and that’s just plain robbery. For top performers, we sometimes solve problems in the shower and that’s not billable time.”

It’s a new way of thinking about freelance development and side gigs. Koder even likens itself to the gig economy; in a press release, the company says it “brings the ease of booking a ride on Uber and Lyft to the world of software development.”

Koder may be onto something, too. Freelance developer sites are in a state of flux; you’re either fighting for scraps as satellite dev farms drive prices down, or hoping to be ‘verified’ for an over-the-top service that likely can’t guarantee steady work. The space where good developers can earn an honest wage seems to be shrinking.

With this model, though, companies don’t have to consider billable hours or stress about freelancer performance. Koder makes it really straightforward: Companies set a price for the job they need done, and hire someone to complete the task. There’s even an ‘Enterprise’ option if companies need a crew to complete a task.

Koder Freelance Developers

Developers and companies can message via Koder, which may help alleviate some concerns about communication. After discussing the project, a company can invite a developer to the ‘bounty,’ which is what Koder calls projects. Developers can be paid in real money or cryptocurrency; Koder has a proprietary cryptocurrency, “KODR Coins,” which can be banked, exchanged for common cryptocurrency, or turned into a proper fiat currency.

The simplicity of Koder may appeal to many. Companies have a job, and a budget; freelance developers want work. By vetting developers, this model is also side-stepping the ‘race to the bottom’ so many other platforms have encountered. Though anyone can download the app (currently iOS only; the Android app is in beta testing) and sign up for Koder, Morales tells Dice there will be in-app skills challenges; developers won’t be able to accept a bounty until they’ve reached a designated level by passing those challenges.

Koder as a platform is currently in beta, but already has companies such as Uber, Microsoft, and BMW as customers. It hasn’t said when it plans to launch, but invites interested developers to follow it on Twitter and LinkedIn to know when it’s live.

The freelance developer space needs a service like Koder. The only hurdle left is scaling it to match supply with demand.

17 Responses to “Koder Turns Freelance Developers into Bounty-Hunting Hired Guns”

  1. This is nothing new and also not as good as people make it to be.

    It will drive prices down to the point where only scripkids with no bills to pay can work.

    You will see hilarious demands/bounties witb contractors trying to get something do for 1/1000 of what it should!

  2. Dan Sutton

    This is a bad thing. A fixed-price contract is an open-ended, never-ending contract in which the project is never completed, and there is always room for argument about who specified what, and what they really meant, and how the developer failed to understand exactly what was required and now has to write a whole lot of extra code to accomodate what the customer thinks he meant, but in reality only thought of once the project was delivered. No experienced freelancer ever works on a fixed-price contract: it’s simply bad business. Where’s the developer’s recourse if the customer continually refuses to pay, and keeps demanding a wider and wider feature set on the understanding that that’s what he was asking for all along, but the developer was too stupid to get it?

    • Yes, it sounds like a potentially dangerous contract. Who is the arbiter? How knowledgeable are they? Whose position would they likely favor? How difficult could resolution become? The devil is in the detail of the specification and that is likely a problem in many cases.

  3. Bill Melendez

    As a business owner, I can understand the concerns expressed. The problem is both ways –programmers need to assert a contract that is clear and defines the scope of work. The person or company requesting outsourced coding needs to be clear as to expectations and limitations of the agreed upon scope. I’ve used freelancers both in Guru and in Freelancer platforms and the results are mixed. The key is that I do not expect the coder to code beyond what was agreed upon and defined in the scope. If there is follow-on coding needed, it is because I wasn’t that clear on my own requirements nor that I defined the scope to the coder properly. Normally, most accept follow-on coding to clarify something I missed in my requirements document or that wasn’t anticipated by ether of us during the project development. In all cases, the coder gets paid regardless of who did or didn’t do what since the understanding is that we all can make mistakes. However, a coder that is unwilling to clear up an issue or work towards a resolution doesn’t get hired again.

    • Also, this line: “However, a coder that is unwilling to clear up an issue or work towards a resolution doesn’t get hired again” is exactly the point. If the coder isn’t willing to take it in the shorts, they get screwed, not the business. No shared risk.

    • Don’t worry, you won’t hire programmers, you will hire a consulting firm that will double the initial schedule and budget. It those consulting firms that will hire programmers for fixed budget.

  4. This is terrible. Forces development into the Waterfall mode of development, since everything MUST be well defined up front or you end up fighting. Everyone spends more time defining the contract than actually doing work. Waterfall has been proven to fail (see: Government). No sane independent contractor would do this, only junior devs who don’t know better or desperate offshore workers. Time and Materials with some sort Agile methodology is the only fair way. Allows the product to evolve over time. If performance isn’t where it should be, end the agreement and everyone goes their own separate ways.

    Count me out.

  5. So, this article is implying that the client is going to provide enough requirements definition and UI to allow developers to make a fixed bid? I don’t think so…. If i were doing it I would pad my estimate about 10 times then.

  6. Chris Stehlik

    ” Koder even likens itself to the gig economy;…“brings the ease of booking a ride on Uber and Lyft to the world of software development.”
    UMM, comparing software devs to rideshare drivers is not a good thing for developers… Fixed price for a task of unknown difficulty ? No. This only benefits the employer and not the programmer at all.

  7. Walter Fair

    The only way that works is if the companies post the specs and their pat up front, so I can decide whether it’s worth the effort or not.I assume that word of how reliable the companies are will quivckly get around, otherwise that’s another unknown.

  8. I don’t know what is worse:the Koder concept or its idiotic praise in the review. If reliable estimates were possible in software development, we would not need Agile. And programming jobs that can be handled by lone rangers are so boring that only fly-by-night Koders will apply.You get what you pay for–sometimes.