Recently I left my best job thus far, the job at Looker, to found a consulting company. Naturally there were a lot of factors at play, but the biggest gravitational pull there was due to Looker. Looker to me is one of those technologies that everyone just wants to build on top of because:
Since the early 2000s, there have been plenty of technology stacks that my peers would get excited about. For me the earliest such tech was the Mozilla Foundation’s open browser. I would develop an extension, and then several months after uploading it on the mozilla site, my invention would already get thousands of downloads. You could just feel the momentum behind Mozilla.
Of course, there were some technology stacks that just never lived to see their audiences grow. My memory is generally bad for these, but if you ask anyone, developers generally have a few such bad bets behind them. It is a very unpleasant feeling to make one of those bad bets. Not only are you generally investing more upfront time to overcome the steep learning curve, but you are also not getting the end results. The sponsoring company just goes down and takes the tech with it, albeit slowly.
As a consultant, you are also making bets on technologies. To consult companies in tech, you generally have to focus either on something very safe and legitimate (e.g. Oracle, Cisco) or something brand new and exciting. The former world is full of people who dedicate their entire lives to specializing on one technology. My father is such a consultant, with a couple dozen of Cisco certificates under his name. I have utmost respect for what he does, but having spent an entire year at age 16 to acquire one such certificate, I knew immediately that this competition was lost before it got started. And ever since, I tried to focus on the later: new and exciting.
When I joined Looker as an employee two years ago, Looker was precisely that: new and exciting. To me and to many, it clearly had the (1) first component. As I left Looker recently to start a consulting practice, I see the safety in the presence of (2) permanence.
Naturally there will be many vendors, tools, and applications that I will have to support as a consultant. Right now my sweet spot is in HDFS, AWS Data Pipeline (or anything AWS related), BigQuery/Redshift, and Looker for a data stack. The competition among vendors is fierce at every level of this stack. Luckily, I have some insider information, as financial analysts would call it, to feel confident about at least one technology in this stack ;)