A billionaire tech investor calls programmers “the poorest asset on the planet”

Twitter employees are preparing for job cuts under the leadership of Elon Musk. Intel (INTC) is reducing headcount as part of a multi-billion dollar cost reduction plan. Snap (SNAP) is cutting 20% ​​of its workforce and may cut further.

At the same time, big tech companies like Microsoft (MSFT) and Amazon (AMZN), although they are now slowing growth, still have more employees than they did a year ago. And software development is still a much in demand skill, analysts say. This is ahead of an October jobs report that economists predict will show the US economy added 200,000 jobs last month.

“I like to say that the scarcest commodity on the planet is not oil, lithium or cobalt, but actually software programmers.” So said Robert Smith, founder, president and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, the private equity firm with $ 94 billion in assets under management and a concentration in enterprise software.

“There are seven and a half billion people on the planet,” he added, “and only 29 million of us writing code for a living.”

The data reflects a strong demand for software developers. Job opportunities in the United States increased unexpectedly in September. Although the Department of Labor does not include software developers in that report on a monthly basis, they fall into the professional and business services category. Those openings increased 4.5% from the previous year.

Robert Smith, founder, president and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, speaks at the Milken Institute’s 21st global conference in Beverly Hills, California, May 1, 2018. REUTERS / Lucy Nicholson

Job postings for software programmers were up 57% from February 2020, according to Indeed.com’s Hiring Lab. This represents a slowdown from a maximum increase of 131% in March 2022 compared to February 2020, suggesting that companies could cut.

However, the need for programmers appears to be a long-term trend that is not going away, even though there is cost cutting amid current economic concerns. An IDC analyst said the shortage is not limited to the US report. One IDC has estimated that the global shortage of full-time developers would rise to 4 million in 2025 from 1.4 million last year.

“Many companies / recruiting agencies across Europe are looking into other talent pools such as South America and Asia to play roles locally,” Leonardo Bulgarelli Freitas, research manager at IDC UK wrote in an email. . “This was before, but there seems to be an even greater increase in hiring outside the continent.”

He noted that a recent IDC survey found software developers in the top five required roles within information technology.

“These are the people who are actually providing and building these productivity tools that need to continue to enable and digitize not just businesses, but entire economies in countries, education, cybersecurity,” said Vista Equity’s Smith. “Those are the areas where we are actually seeing that increase in demand.”

Smith sought to help bridge the gap between programmers, as well as address the shortage of black programmers and digital workers. After drastically paying off Morehouse University graduate class student loans in 2019, the billionaire established the Student Freedom Initiative, a non-profit loan vehicle aimed at STEM students at institutions serving minorities.

“We need to activate more citizens to be part of the digital revolution,” he said.

Julie Hyman is the co-host of Yahoo Finance Live, weekdays 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. ET. Follow her on Twitter @juleshymanAnd light his other stories.

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