Why 99% Of New Apps Developed By Outsourcers Fail

Why would top developers be looking for gigs on online marketplaces when elite coders can make 3.5x more (with benefits) working for a VC funded startup or an Amazon (which lets many devs work from home)?

Or, why would average developers work for an outsourcer when they can get 2x more in an online marketplace?

Five9 Founder John Sung Kim

Nothing about the claims of online marketplaces (“Hire ex-Googlers to work!”) or outsourcers (“We work for Microsoft!”) make any sense. But people always want to believe they found a $100 bill for $20…

Like “Dave” (not his real name) who sat across from me at a cafe in Kiev, nearly falling out of his chair with excitement. He was a very fit, middle-aged London banker who had an idea for an iOS app and had hired an outsourcing firm in Kiev.

$150,000 into his yet-to-be-launched app, he kept saying “I’m certain.”

It doesn’t occur to many first-time product founders that success in this game is all about the team you have.  Your ideas are for shit. 

But here’s the dirty truth outsourcers don’t want the public to know:

Outsourcing is a grueling business that relies on tier C talent, with 10% to 25% margins at best, and that doesn’t account for the constant churn as developers leave you for better-paying positions, nevermind the sales and marketing costs.

Almost every outsourcer I know is working on their own product, hoping one day to leave outsourcing. That’s why 99%+ of apps developed by outsourcers fail.

If outsourcers could build successful products, they wouldn’t be outsourcers.

Dave became upset when, instead of joining in his excitement, I told him “Dave, you’re a great guy but if I could short startups, you’d be first.”

I really got to work on my tact.

However, a few months later Dave sent me a Facebook message with the all too common, “John, I should’ve listened to you… hey can you meet up for coffee?”

Well, who the fuck are you to say, John?

Call it luck or psychotic determination, but both of my startups have had profitable exits and nearly all of my clients who I’ve been a growth advisor to have had: an IPO, a Series A investment, or been acquired.

Who is founder Five9 john kim
Who knew this website I designed for my first startup in 2004 would become a $3.5 Billion company? I certainly didn’t!

When I think of why “luck” has been on my side, my belief is that it has to do with one core habit I’ve developed with my colleagues over two decades of building, advising and investing in new software projects that I call the CMP model:

Every successful project is a product of Consistent Mini-Pivots based on a relentless collection of data. 

Too often I hear younger founders say something like, “We failed because of _______ but we learned a lot!”

I don’t believe failure is anything to celebrate. And most of the time I’ve seen that it could’ve been avoided with CMP.

At my first startup Five9 we were the David versus multiple Goliaths, so we had to come up with a 10x better product with a 3x better marketing strategy using the CMP model with our engineers and marketer.

Based on CMP grew from $0 to $10 Million in annual recurring revenues within 24 months. $20 Million in just 35 months. Quite frankly it felt easy, it was fun (while our competitors used words like “grinding,” to describe their lives).

It just happens that CMP is the exact opposite of how outsourcers operate profitably – they have to give you the cheapest developers for the highest price taking the most amount of shortcuts. 

There are no guarantees with any project, but I believe the CMP model gives a project multiples more chances of success, and in this gambler’s game – it’s all about playing the odds by reaching for the best hand. And team.

So what now?

At my new company JetBridge we’re disrupting the terrible performance of software outsourcing with our CMP and “Boots On The Ground” model. Reading our client reviews it’s clear we’re onto something – our devs often outperform our client’s in-house teams! Send us a message if you have a need for excellence & speed with the least amount of risk.

Five9 DoctorBase founder John Sung Kim
We don’t just teach geeks how to code like us, we teach them how to be entrepreneurs like us. Learn more at the JetBridge blog

10 Things You Do After Your StartUp is Acquired.

John Sung Kim Net Worth

Selling your baby company is somewhat bittersweet. The money and sense of accomplishment with your team is undeniable, but at the same time it’s odd to go from CEO to employee. Half of my former employees kept asking me, “You ok, JK?” and the other half would give me an occasional look like, “Don’t you dare tell me what to do – you ain’t the boss!”

I came into the office on a Thursday evening – first clue we were acquired – no one was in the office at 6:30pm. I gathered all of my belongings in a CostCo box, turned the lights out and left DoctorBase for the last time.


1. Said goodbye to competitor. Most of my career I’ve heard VCs say, “We like you, but ABC Co. has raised so much money…”

So one of the first things I did was gathered my core team and danced in front of the grave office of my closest competitor who had raised 30x more money (yeah, 30x)! At the time of our exit we had about 2.8x their ARR (Annual Recurring Revenues) with far less churn (percentage of cancelling customers).

It’s why as a hobby micro-angel investor, I never underestimate a roomful of creative people who are die hard about winning.  Having connections is great, but scrappy often wins the day in the long run.

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2. Visit Africa. The first trip I made was to go to Morocco to ride camels and haggle for things I didn’t want.

The pictures look great but believe me, the desert is cold, boring and filled with cats. Yes, cats.

John Sung Kim DoctorBase

Which in a way made sense to me because the Sahara looked like a large litter box. However, the people of Morocco were quite lovely and I highly recommend going shopping through the maze like streets of Marrakech – a bucketlist worthy experience.

I returned home to San Francisco after ten days in Africa and ate a super burrito every day for a week.  God is great, truly.

3. Buy a bunch of stuff you’ve always wanted (obviously).  In my case, motorcycles. I always wanted a different bike for each day of the week and a victorian garage in San Francisco big enough to house them all. Dream = fulfilled.

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And if you really like a particular model, why not buy two?

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4. Buy your (ex)employees things that make them happy. Because let’s face it, without them I’d be a monkey with a powerpoint presentation. No offense to monkeys as I love animals. 

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5. Throw fun parties. And this being San Francisco, most of my guests will be smarter than me and way more accomplished. Note the tall handsome dude in my kitchen is Coach Mike Brown (former head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers, my Los Angeles Lakers and now with the Warriors).

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Some of my guests (after I explicitly asked them not to) asked him questions like, “Who was worse to coach – Lebron or Kobe? Tell the truth Coach!”

In Silicon Valley for some reason we lack social graces.  #Aspergers

Or have dinner with celebrities. Not because they like you but because you paid for a fundraiser dinner benefitting a charity you actually know very little about. 

“Yo Yao!” I said, but I don’t think he got my sense of humor. Man I love basketball.

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And have a real convo with your childhood idol. When I was a kid I loved Janes Addiction. Being able to talk about the music industry with lead singer Perry Farrell was a dream come true.

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6. Retire your parents. It’s an Asian thing I guess.

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Send family members on vaca. Also, Asian thing.

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My baby cousin and her husband are both so smart and good looking and young they make me want to puke.

7. Speak at your university and drink beer with students like you’re still an undergrad. And actually puke.

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Or people from far off countries will ask you to come speak about startup life, which was also great for me considering I would never had gone to Norway otherwise.

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And for some reason after you have an IPO or exit, people who own boats invite you onto them. I never knew some many people owned boats. And you know what? Everyone is in a great mood on a boat. You never hear of a fistfight breaking out on a boat. Am I right?

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8. Do “VIP” stuff like become a judge for a foreign country’s Miss Universe pageant.

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I’m married to a wonderful lady now so I have to disclaim: I had a terrible time at this event. Awful. 

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Or get invited to the White House and chill with politicians.

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Charlie Rangel may have left his office with some controversy (after decades of public service) but he’s still one of the best sales professionals to ever pitch. I wish I could’ve gone drinking beers with him afterwards.

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Traveling the world for a year makes you very bereft of potential girlfriends dates (ok, so I didn’t have a lot of dates before then either) so my friend Kyra packed her dress, hopped on a flight to D.C. and came to my rescue as my +1 for the White House gala. Thanks pal – I’m lucky to have friends like you.

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9. Become an angel investor and support other amazing founders by hustling hard for them. Cliche but true, in this town you must add value to get into good deals when you’re writing checks as small as mine.

John Sung Kim investor

10. Start to miss your desk at work. When you had a job. And purpose.

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Also, even your friends at Facebook seem to be working on interesting projects, and so inevitably you get back to f**king work like a real grown up.

Still, my year off the grid was memorable and I’m glad I had it. Whenever people say crap like, “I wish I could have a year like that, JK,” I always tell them, “if you really want it, then –

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So now I’m back with another startup mission – to reinvent software outsourcing at JetBridge. If you need the absolute best software developers for your company, come check us out. As you can see from our reviews, our devs often outperform our client’s in-house teams!