My boss has recently made it known that our company is in dire straits. We do have a couple of last ditch clients we are trying to acquire, but the product we are trying to sell is not complete. My boss is having us work on this software that he plans on selling en masse rather than our previous niche of developing specially-tailored solutions for individual clients. But at this point, rather than feverishly working to pull this thing off, my boss seems to only half-heartedly be into the work, which leads me to believe he doesn't care if the company collapses and has other plans.

So here is my question:

Let's say his plan is to take the finished-to-near-finished software and peddle it to further clients on his own time after I'm not in the picture anymore--is that fair? Granted I have nothing in my contract about getting a share of sales from our products. Our company is very small and rag-tag and so my contract doesn't really say much of anything strict or binding. He pretty much just picked me up off the street and taught me everything I know about computer programming, so I owe him a great deal in that regard.

So is it fair to hire people to make a product for you, leave them behind, and sell it yourself? My guess is the answer is yes, but I'd still like to hear it.

Also, is it common for developers to have a clause in their contract which gives them a portion of product sales?

  • 3
    You won't get far in life if you think things should be fair. The universe is inherently unfair. And devs often don't get a percentage of sales if they are not owners of the company, why would they? The risk is not thiers, they were paid a salary to build something, what the company does with it after they build it is irrelvant, they got paid for their contribution. If you want to get paid for your software sales, then build apps and sell them yourself in your own company. – HLGEM Sep 25 '14 at 18:11
  • I didn't say anything about thinking THE UNIVERSE should be fair. I asked if the situation presented was fair. And then there's good ol' @JoeStrazzere with the sarcastic rhetorical. This place is teeming with great answers; glad I showed up. How's that for sarcasm. – Brimby Sep 25 '14 at 18:17
  • @HLGEM - The universe is increbilbly fair... it has the same rules for everyone. It is people who are unfair. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Sep 26 '14 at 15:44
  • Oh no they're gonna close my question! The universe really is unfaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaair! – Brimby Sep 26 '14 at 18:57

Unless profit or revenue sharing is explicitly stated in your contract it should not be expected. It isn't fantastic business practice to drop developers once the product catalog is no longer growing but it's his business decision to make. So long as you get paid for your work as per your contract then it's his choice to run his business into the ground if he wants to.


Also, is it common for developers to have a clause in their contract which gives them a portion of product sales?


In my part of the world at least, it is not at all common for developers to get a portion of product sales.

The only exceptions I have ever seen were a few startups where employees didn't receive a salary, but were compensated in equity and commissions. In that case, the compensation was explicitly spelled out in their contract beforehand.

In your part of the world, or in your specific industry, perhaps it's common.

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