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Ask HN: Who acquires big macOS apps?
37 points by cc101 7 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 51 comments
I don't want to deal with Apple any longer. My app helps college students in academic trouble organize and sustain large academic projects. It's mostly for very bright college students with ADHD. Any potential acquirers you would like to suggest?

I think acquirers will typically be more interested in financial figures rather than the size of the codebase.

There's flippa.com and the likes, you could start your research there.

OP: as someone who has purchased a website through one of these services I 100% can tell you that finances are a major part of what we’re looking for.

For an app the quality/maintainable/upgradeability would certainly come into play. As well as things such as growth trends, competition, etc.

But if you can show a market dominant app with a happy user base and steady income that is relatively easy to maintain you can generally expect 3 to 7 times your annualized seller discretionary earnings (A.k.a., your profits minus the cost of replacing your time with a paid programmer and putting back any write-offs that you put on the business).

Firstly, you can sell Mac apps without using the Mac app store. I do. But you have to use a payment processor and still deal with digital certificates, notarization etc.

Secondly, 13,000 line of code is tiny compared to many (most?) commercial apps. I wouldn't consider anything under a million lines of source code as a 'big' code base.

Indeed, I shipped several desktop apps that were in the low millions SLOC. Looking at some recent private hobby apps, I've consistently approached 100k. The SLOC here is less important than the size of the target audience (and metrics like retention).

This sounds like a ton of templated or auto-generated code. For any well tested, human written code 100k would be a huge undertaking.

As a reference point of reference, CryEngine2 checks in at 1M lines of code and undoubtedly had a large team of developers working on it full time.

>For any well tested, human written code 100k would be a huge undertaking.

It does take a long time for 1 person to write 100k of non-auto generated, tested, documented code. Especially multi platform. But it is definitely doable. I've done it.

It depends a lot on the language. 1k in C is almost nothing, one evening. On the other hand, I usually need a whole week to reach 1k in Python. In both cases I mean well thought-out code without using any code generation tools.

Agree, generally. But LOC depends on the language. 13k lines in Clojure can make almost anything.

Good luck writing an app with a complex GUI in 13k lines of anything.

Back in the days of Delphi, that was trivial. The description of the GUI itself was kept separate (I believe in binary files?) and you basically only used code for interaction/changes. A lot of quite complex apps were written in it before Microsoft and their own stupid decisions basically killed them off.

Define a "GUI" - web, native, or non-native

Define "complex" - is that 38 elements, 130, 510, or 927? Do modals count?

Define a "line" - JS can be minified, Elm is terse. Do you count libraries?

The problem is you're speaking in such vague, ambiguous generalities that you're also falling into the trap of focusing on having "impressive" lengths rather than the nuances of making things in the real world.

Could you write Blender in 13k lines of Clojure? I doubt it.

Depends on the libraries involved. Do you write anything in assembly?

I estimate the FB app is ~3 MLoC of Objective-C++.

I wrote Pascal programs as a kid that were 10KLoC.

LoC is a terrible metric because it's not the size that matters, but how it's used. Smaller that does more is more secure, less buggy, and more nimble inherently.

Edit: A small amount of code can be unique, powerful, and took a great deal of art and skill to arrive at.

Obligatory Bill Gates quote: “Measuring programming progress by lines of code is like measuring aircraft building progress by weight.” However it does have the benefit of being relatively easy to measure.

If you have million lines of code, it’s probably because you can’t tell the difference between the actual, human-written code, and stuff that shouldn’t be committed in the fist place.

My main commercial app is closer to 100k LOC. I don't consider that large. https://successfulsoftware.net/2017/02/10/how-much-code-can-...

https://microacquire.com/ has a good reputation.

Yes, would highly recommend them. I met the founder a while back, great guy.

No one acquires apps based on line count.

Well bricklayers pay by the brick. In construction time goes pretty linearly into completion.

In computer science, no. No because first off how much of the code did you copy paste from one part to the other? But it is a measure of effort. For instance, secretaries do in fact get paid basically for their character count. And for myself, since I am measuring myself and am not trying to cheat myself, line count is actually not a terrible measure of how much went into a project. But instead of lines, count characters. That actually corresponds to the difficulty of typing, and to the size of the codebase. Yeah it's terrible but come on. Most bosses are impressed by line count. One YC company asked how many lines of code I had written over the course of my entire life...what were they called...hey it's a discrete number. Tells you something. And most code in my opinion, outside Common Lisp, Scheme, Clojure as another poster talked about, code size measures something. Like you're doing it right now, you looked at my comment, said "oh look a wall of text", meaning it doesn't even matter what I pull out of my ass at this point because you won't even read this far. Lines of code.

1 brick is fungible with another brick. Lines of code are not. A project could be roughly sized by "bricks required"(if the project is a wall), but very few tasks in programming are like that. I'll be asked how long something will take to produce, not how many lines of code it will have in the end.

Line count is certainly a horrible measure generally, but it may not be a horrible measure for a given (programmer, language) pair, because most programmers have a certain style and may have a fairly standard rate of useful expression per line (or something like that, I just made it up).

However, without knowing either the programmer or the language, just raw line of code count is meaningless. People spend money on software because of what it usefully does for them, not because of the LoC.

And yes, I did read that far.

Computer science is not programming. Programmers are not computer scientists.

Dude all the way. That's where I fucked up, like I aced I think every single algorithm interview, the coding part, all of it, one time sort of, like an answer that didn't fit into their view. Or one time that same day same company did stump me, told me the answer, and immediately replied with a better answer that used less energy.

So I approached the whole thing as a computer scientist, like hey if we have a problem we soon will solve it by designing an algorithm or data structure[1] that speeds things up dramatically. Shockingly even. I think I've gotten career speedups...I don't even know...quintillion-x on one problem? Not expressible as a multiple. And another thing about me which I found to depart from the norm is I produce tangible research results every time, every single time, total reliability on producing results in research.

And we split the benefits, between computer scientist and manager.

So yeah, so a friend who is a great programmer, which I am not, said yeh it depends some days it can be 5 lines of code some days 500, and they're both good days. A lot of variation, but the 500 lines are unimpressive and the 5 lines are unintelligible, so if you mix them you get the boss happy...sort of. If such a thing existed.

In general bosses are designed--just viewing the org chart as a data structure to extract useful work out of a disorganized mass of people who need sustenance. This is generally done by making a hierarchy ie a tree, similar to society in a closed system (pecking order or popularity in high school) and also similar to the organization of the human brain, all trees--so bosses are by design not tolerant to variation. Bosses want bricklayers. They pay the minimum of effort and value.

In particular shitty bosses of shitty companies, that's the only people open to talking to me after torture ruined my résumé. Which is also apparently most companies most of the time in most economies in most of the business cycle, just not that profitable. Not like they pretend with their gold-plated (contains gold yes but like one gold atom per square inch like any ordinary) dogshit. Just not profitable. You gotta bring them the money to get a cut, they're deep in debt, and it's personal like it's not company debt the boss himself "loses the house" as if it were his when it has a mortgage, but at any rate personalized debt, and personalized liability. Not Options SpA who is in debt. Companies don't exist really. The boss, call him Fernando to give him a name like lets pretend he was my boss because he denied this in court, is in debt. 20% annual interest. Standard for Chile. The banks let them get enough to look rich to a sufficiently accomplished, sufficiently "gullible" computer scientist. As if it were wrong to believe capitalism had merit, born during the fall of the Soviet Union. Stupid to be a cappie, guess I should have been a commie.

There's so many companies that don't add up to dogshit. Like you gotta show up to work the first day with an ingot of gold worth double your salary for the boss to do the great honor of cutting it in half to give you half back.[2]

And they don't let you choose which half.

Being literal here.


[1] Commie : communism :: cappie : capitalism. But I suppose I can be both. Why not? Be a cappie and a commie? Honestly my life as a computer scientist would be pretty much the same on either side of the Iron Curtain if I lived in the fifties. 99% taxes as a Soviet inventor, with all kinds of privileges like backstage passes and RELATIVE freedom of speech which is huge for someone who wants to be heroic especially during transitions of leadership, and like free travel in a closed country which according to Edward Snowden is so beautiful, plus like a solid budget with an actual pounds (later dollar) amount for a lab to do whatever I dream of, plus access to all the absolute most locked-down information from the whole world for my own enlightenment (unlike the Americans who didn't know dick of Soviet developments in the fifties), it's true liberty. All I have to do is find some merit in some mostly but not completely defective parts--those are always the best.

And on the cappie side of the Iron Curtain, much the same thing. 99% taxes because as an Intellectual Property expert told me there's like thirsty parasites on the way to the Patent Office, corrupt but navigable (every place is corrupt just not every place is navigable), you still pay taxes just not to the orphanages, more like the sugar daddy orphanage of the daddy who isn't even there, paying for golps of state of Iran and Chile same shit different day, unlivable conditions all over the world, and yeah the system doesn't need as many watchmen and trust but secretly it does there are brutal asswhoopings just exported to eg Iran and Chile, and the inventor in the fifties didn't really get his get. The inventor, I repeat, doesn't get his get. Like the guy who perfected FM (frequency modulated) radio committed suicide because the large corporation, in this case RCA (Radio Corporation of America under that Belorussian expatriate called "the General" informally) which had to pay a million dollar fortune to the true inventor's widow, that guy got fucked.

And I got fucked. And you got fucked. We all got fucked. That single inventor's betrayal is the reason FM radio, which is typically the only radio anybody uses calling it radio, is an odd frequency. It's megahertz, "a hundred and one point one" refers to megahertz, and the true inventor originally had "radio one hundred" which saves air time and listener time, lines of code right there, but RCA in response fucked him by broadcasting really loud .1 MHz away from his stations. And they fucked him, fucked you, fucked me, fucked everyone, and that was what the court found and told them to pay the fuck up, give his widow a million dollars for being culpable of the inventor's suicide. That is to say, they suicided him. It actually is a transitive verb, it was in Rome, were suiciding was common at the beginning of the empire. But the inventor got fucked and everyone except that Belorussian defector with him.

In the 1910's America rewarded inventors, in the fifties I don't know man. Like you'd get a job in Bell Labs, attaboy for inventing the transistor. And even then Bob Noyce and those guys had to come up with crazy multipliers over and over. I could almost do that if I didn't get tortured, but I can't survive by multiplying zero by any speedup no matter how astronomical. Zero by a thousand is zero. Zero by a million is zero. Zero by a billion is zero. Realistically you eat half your food to get a 2x multiplier, Zeno's Paradox. That's the most literalist shit there is, Zeno's Paradox.

And of course the big companies paid a lot in taxes, CEO's generally made at most half a million a year, very tiered, 90% taxes at the top, and they were my old time best friends these capitalists, the old timers. Not about snubbing people at the country club as a form of entertainment, more like rewarding hard work. That's it. That's selfish enough for them, compared to that taxation. Lines of code, in a lot of cases.

Hey, no lines of code, no work right?

[2] They prefer exotic metals because gold is obviously money. Apparently time is an exotic metal.

> So I approached the whole thing as a computer scientist

I expect you can't not approach everything this way because you were programmed.

Hahahaha, yeah that's...that's a good one. Hehe. Thanks.

I love it.

Maursault, you're probably right. I was probably programmed. All the literal brainwashing memories were themselves brainwashed.

I think you're a pretty cool user, Maursault.

Yeah - one should consider it's usability and features/purpose instead (and probably a lot more like current stage/marketing, etc).

I’m curious about this app. Please let us know your website URL!

HN gives me trouble if I publish its name. Search the Mac App Store for "Streamline Academic Writing".

Pitch the team at Tiny https://www.tiny.com

Dude talk to Beorg, I was a very bright college student with ADHD (diagnosed as a freshman, first quarter at Stanford, Adult ADD, absolute textbook case ie every symptom and no symptoms of anything else, open about it like one of my doctors), I basically flunked when Beorg broke down. It was a combo. It's a one man show, but you could be stronger together.

Tell me what your app is called!

Dude I shelled out like $50 bucks when Beorg only charged $10, just shoving money into their pocket to breathe life into them. I put my money where my mouth is, I get great value too, am a model patient and put psychiatry first with the first 20% of my income, that includes your type of apps.

Like is it good? Do the students love it? NEED IT?

Cause if it sucks it sucks. There's a lot of products that suck. I can't buy something that sucks. Flawed I can work with, sucks, like contempt for me, I can't.

I would be interested too. I'm writing software that could make an excellent addition to a college textbook.

The app you describe sounds like it would be incredibly useful to me, do you mind sharing a link?

Good luck with the acquisition!

I just replied to a similar question. It's a few posts above this one.

HN gives me trouble if I publish its name. Search the Mac App Store for "Streamline Academic Writing".

You posted this 6 times. That's noise if not spam. Please don't copy-paste comments like that.

As for your app name, that would only happen either by accident or because you'd spammed HN in the past. If you want to say what the name is, I can try to figure out which.

It's courtesy

Hmm, I can't find any posts you've made with the word 'courtesy' in them.

I may actually know the right people for this in the student success space. @ me on Twitter and I'll see what I can do.

Old post by patio11 "What I Learned Selling A Software Business" https://training.kalzumeus.com/newsletters/archive/selling_s... NH discussion https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11347006 (439 points | March 23, 2016 | 84 comments)

(Unofficial tl;dr: The price is x2 or x4 your last year profit.)

Interested to hear why you "don't want to deal with Apple any longer". What are the issues you faced?

Although I despise non-native apps, I’ll just devils advocate for a moment: most of the value of your app is the established user base and the fact that you were able to design an apparently adequate UX.

so why not port over to Electron and go multi platform?

Email me please. I’m in psychology - this works well.

What's the app?

So apparently the OP (https://news.ycombinator.com/user?id=cc101) is either shadowbanned or is having his comments removed for citing their app. @dang is this true?

Anyway regardless of that I hope this thread itself isn't removed, because it generated good discussion.

Also interested in knowing

Check MicroAcquire

It's cute that you consider 13,000 LOC big.

No need to be rude.

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