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How NOT to hire a consultant to create your iPhone app / A lucrative challenge for a savvy OpenGL ES programmer

by John Casasanta
February 3, 2011107 comments

Some of you are aware of our plasma app and how long it’s been “in-development”. Well, this week, the programmer, Daniel Pasco, who we contracted to develop the app for us decided to bail on us, as noted in his libelous tweet:


Since he decided to make this public (with a big lie, no less… wtf at “firing” the one who hired him?), I’m going to set the record straight…

Daniel and his company (original Black Pixel Luminance, later changed to Black Pixel) were contracted by us all the way back in November of 2008 to develop the app. The development was supposed to cost us $20,000 and was supposed to take only a month or so. We wanted to do it so that he got paid hourly as that’s how we were dealing with most of our contractors at that time and it usually works out to be the fairest method for both parties in the end. But he insisted on doing it for a flat rate.

Here’s the original contract:

plasma contract.pdf
plasma contract.pdf

Maybe by “fired”, he meant, “took the money and ran”.

Here’s what we got for that original $20,000:

plasma pre pre pre pre pre alpha

Sublime in its simplicity. Yeah, something like that.

We continued to sink a lot more money into the project, partly because we wanted to add some cool features that we came up with, but mainly because Daniel couldn’t deliver anything even close to being worthy of shipping. And even though we weren’t supposed to pay until completion of the project, we did so on good faith, mainly because of Daniel’s never ending sob-stories. literally months would go by without an ounce of work being done on the app. When he did actually come around to doing some work on it, subsequent builds improved slightly, but we never got the the point where someone would ask us about plasma and we’d be proud to show it to them… instead it was usually quite the opposite and more of an embarrassment for us.

The two areas Daniel excels in are completely rewriting history and shifting blame to anyone but himself (I can’t count the number of times I heard the phrases “Kyle nearly bankrupted the company” and “busy putting out fires”). It’s amazing that he tries to get away with bullshit like this on his website:

“Our combined might allows us to develop complicated projects in a remarkably short amount of time… and we don’t stop until the job is done.”


If Daniel just told me something like, “I misrepresented my abilities and I’m not able to deliver what you contracted me for” I would’ve been understanding. Shit happens. I did something like that all the way back when I was around 19 and I was contracted to port the game Mobius from the Apple II to the Atari computers. Before long, I realized that I was in over my head at the time and told my employer that I couldn’t get the job done. As good as I thought I was, I simply didn’t have the skills to deal with the thousands of lines of 6502 assembly code required to get the job done. It was a humbling experience and I learned from the whole thing. But Daniel publicly going on the offensive with a bunch of outright lies simply isn’t the way to get on my good side.

I know that many of you have big ideas for the next great iPhone app and are anxious to hire a programmer to turn your idea into reality. But here are a few things to remember when you’re seeking out someone to help:

  • Don’t pay a single nickel up-front for any work to be done. Only pay when the work is actually delivered and only when it’s to your satisfaction.
  • Do thorough background checks on all potential candidates and do your best to make sure they and their abilities are who and what they claim to be. (Daniel was actually referred by someone who was working on another project of ours at the time so we didn’t nearly do as much checking as we should’ve. Ironically, we had to get rid of the person who referred him because he didn’t get his job done.)
  • Be sure to see actual working app examples of the things they claimed to have worked on in the past.
  • If anyone ever proudly lists “rocket scientist” in their bio, do a much more thorough background check.

There are plenty of good iPhone consultants out there and we’ve worked with many on various projects with great results. But it’s the ones like Daniel Pasco/Black Pixel and their actions that put a big, black mark on all other consultants, unfortunately. They simply spoil a good thing and make it so that clients need to be much more cautious or they’ll also risk getting screwed over.

So to make things perfectly clear, unless you want to end up in a similar predicament that we ended-up in, if you need an iPhone or iPad app developed, be sure to avoid hiring Daniel Pasco, Black Pixel, Black Pixel Luminance, Brain Murmurs, or any of the other aliases he uses for his “businesses”. It’s a pretty safe bet to assume that the names keep changing so that he can weasel out of existing commitments.

I’m sure many of you are wondering, why not sue him? There are hardly enough hours in the day to be doing the things I like working on, so the last thing I want to be doing is focusing any of my energies on something unpleasant like litigation. But instead of focusing any further on the negatives of this situation, let’s turn this whole thing around and try to turn it into a big positive…

Are you a GREAT OpenGL ES programmer?

We’re putting the source code for plasma into the public domain (except the app icon, which we’re retaining the copyright on). Here you go:


You’re free to use the code as you please and we’re not attaching any restrictive open source licenses to it. Go ahead and build the app and submit it to the App Store as a free or paid app if you want (I can hardly wait to see 23 copies of the same app in the App Store :|). But beware that it’s crap in its current state.

Now here comes the interesting part… if you’re able to turn the app into something that we’re proud to ship, we’re offering 40% of the profits on it if we publish it. For most of our recent and upcoming projects, we’ve been working with developers mostly on a percentage basis and it’s worked out wonderfully for all parties involved.

We estimate that with metrics based on our past successes, our large following, and our marketing muscle, we’ll easily be able to pull in $400,000 for a good, solid plasma in the first year alone. If you do the math (and you’d better be damn good at math if you think you can take this project on), that’s over $160,000 in just the first year for what should be a few month’s worth of work.

If you feel like you’re truly up to the challenge, get in touch with us sooner, rather than later, but at the very least, be ready to show us something cool that you’ve either done with the existing plasma sources or something you’ve concocted all on your own.

Please be aware that we’re the ones who’ll have the final say on whether we publish the app or not. But in the end, you’ll be totally free to do what you want with your derivative work.

Just remember that we’re complete sticklers about that quality thing.

Oh, and also remember that this isn’t rocket science.

tap tap tap is a leading iPhone and iPad app developer and publisher.

We’ve been creating top-notch apps since the App Store first opened. Our apps are used by literally tens of millions of people in all corners of the world. A few of our favorite and most popular apps we’ve created are:

Who linked to this


  1. Gloria Walker
    3:57pm, February 3, 2011

    There are a lot of liars in the app game. It’s important to treat all of your clients fairly and be open and honest with them. I’m sorry you had to deal with a bad egg developer.

    At my current company, a lot of us previously worked for an app development company that lied to their clients on a daily basis, and we got fed up. Business doesn’t have to be dirty.

  2. Adam Willis
    3:58pm, February 3, 2011

    What a very odd situation. I’ve dealt with guys like this before, and this is exactly what needs to be done to keep them from being a further nuisance to others. Let’s hope that his future potential employers find this post before they pay him a cent!

  3. Danushka Abeysuriya
    3:58pm, February 3, 2011

    I’m sorry to hear about your experience with this whole plasma ball. I was referred to your post by Keri Henare who is an associate of your Andrew Hedges. I run a small game dev company in NZ, we would love to be involved in resurrecting this project for you.

    We have our own OpenGLES 2.0/1.1 grade tech, 3 experienced, qualified, friendly & professional OpenGLES/C++ engineers and a 3D Artist.

    Please feel free to contact me, as I’d love for us to work together and redeem your faith in consultants/contractors

    skype: silvermace
    cell: +6421813733

    Kind Regards,
    Danushka Abeysuriya

  4. Ryan Ray
    4:01pm, February 3, 2011

    So sorry to hear this, seriously sucks! I wish I knew more about building a complete app and could submit something.

    Best of luck!

  5. Matt Vickers
    4:03pm, February 3, 2011

    This article actually made me think “Am I actually good at what I do and am I delivering a solid product”.

    The whole situation sucks, but you live and you learn.

  6. Craig
    4:04pm, February 3, 2011

    I might be able to help. Contact me at

  7. Dave Ackerman
    4:04pm, February 3, 2011

    Ha, wow. He took your money and then “fired” you.

  8. Jack
    4:08pm, February 3, 2011

    I think this is a very interesting story to learn from, and I can totally understand it’s a very bad situation for you guys to be in. You have, basically, just been robbed.

    However - I disagree with the extensive blog post outlining this guy and how terrible he is. I think a paragraph or two would have summed up nicely what a couple of pages does. I just think it’s a bit bitchy. There are people out there like this, so make your warnings, and move on. #justsaying

  9. nir pengas
    4:09pm, February 3, 2011


    live and learn i guess…

  10. Jonno Riekwel
    4:11pm, February 3, 2011

    Yeah blogging about it will make things better for both of you… It’s important stay professional even if the other party isn’t. It’s also impossible to check of the facts are true. There are always two sides.

  11. Josh Holloway
    4:18pm, February 3, 2011

    So you’re going to let someone else do all the design and coding for Plasma and graciously award them with a mere 40% of the profit? Am I the only one that thinks this sounds crazy?

  12. Jord Riekwel
    4:19pm, February 3, 2011

    These amounts of money blow my mind. I must be in the wrong game. I cannot imagine making $20.000 on one job. Or making $400.000 with one app for that matter…

    Good luck with this!

  13. Toto
    4:21pm, February 3, 2011

    That’s interesting. But why OpenGL and not UDK or Unity, that would be so much simpler. I’ll have a try just for fun.

    Good luck with project.

  14. Mike
    4:25pm, February 3, 2011

    Erf. That sucks. But don’t let one bad apple sour you on all rocket scientists. Some of us are nice folks! ;)

  15. Chris Papadopoulos
    4:27pm, February 3, 2011

    I don’t want to get into any drama here, but maybe there’s another side to this story as well.

    Anyway, as a developer that has been stiffed for work I’ve done in the past, I just want to address one point.

    “Don’t pay a single nickel up-front for any work to be done. Only pay when the work is actually delivered and only when it’s to your satisfaction.”

    I don’t blame you for feeling cautious given your past experience here. But many developers have also had bad experiences with companies that refuse to pay their invoices. Given the extremely high demand for skilled iPhone developers, not prepaying some percentage of your bill up front will probably not work out too well right now.

    Doing a background check on somebody you want to hire is certainly fair though.

  16. drunknbass
    4:28pm, February 3, 2011

    It sucks to be in your shoes, and sorry to see things didnt work out, but saying dont pay a penny upfront is not going to work out for you.

    I dont know of very many companies that work without some kind of retainer. And if the full development, wire framing, etc is done by the contractor they def will have “work” done before the code even starts.

    @Jord Riekwel 20k for a project is actually pretty cheap.

  17. Jim P.
    4:30pm, February 3, 2011

    Seriously, $20k? Most iOS developers won’t even get out of bed for less than $50k. Also, this, “Don’t pay a single nickel up-front for any work to be done. Only pay when the work is actually delivered and only when it’s to your satisfaction.” Is a *terrible* policy. I’ll be honest, Tap Tap Tap sounds like a terrible client. So don’t call us - we’ll call you.

    Besides that, however, I will say the code posted looks pretty marginal, even for a super slim budget. Hopefully it is in fact the most recent code delivered.

  18. Scott
    4:35pm, February 3, 2011

    Congratulations. You’ve just taken a step into a larger universe of pettiness and he said/she said. You’ve just lost all credibility.

  19. Scott
    4:37pm, February 3, 2011

    Oh, and this:

    “I’m sure many of you are wondering, why not sue him? There are hardly enough hours in the day to be doing the things I like working on, so the last thing I want to be doing is focusing any of my energies on something unpleasant like litigation. But instead of focusing any further on the negatives of this situation, let’s turn this whole thing around and try to turn it into a big positive…”

    All that means is “we’d never win in court.”

    Because if you could recoup that money, you would.

  20. KC Masterpiece
    4:38pm, February 3, 2011

    You shouldn’t have posted this. Black Pixel shouldn’t have posted a pre-emptive tweet.

    Now, I wouldn’t *ever* want to work for you, and I’d hesitate to hire Black Pixel, too.

    Both parties lose, but you probably lose more, because you come across like a vindictive dick, and someone like you can cause a lot more damage to a consulting company than they can cause to you.

  21. Oliver Cameron
    4:40pm, February 3, 2011

    @Jim P. You are saying most iOS developers won’t get out of bed for less than 500 hours of work? I would love to know which developers you are hiring, because that is ridiculous.

  22. Jonathan Fischoff
    4:42pm, February 3, 2011

    Pay based on milestones. Good programmers are more efficient, hourly wages work against them.

    Hourly makes sense if the requirements are constantly changing.

  23. Brian Hammond
    4:44pm, February 3, 2011

    Oh wow. I cringed at reading this story. I would love to work on this. I created a very popular iPhone/iPad app called simply “Darts”, and it’s all straight OpenGL ES (1.1); no Unity, etc. I am working with a client right now but I will free up in a couple of weeks. Fun!

  24. Ben Dodson
    4:52pm, February 3, 2011

    @Oliver C. To be fair, Jim P didn’t say anything of the sort. He said most devs won’t get out of bed for less than $50,000 but didn’t say that was 500 hours - most iOS developers cost a lot more than $100 per hour…

  25. Ben Dodson
    4:56pm, February 3, 2011

    In my opinion, this story shouldn’t have been published. If anything, it highlights the fact that you don’t do good business as you paid a developer 100% upfront because of some “sob stories” and as you got burned you now say that nobody should pay developers up front. I also have a hard time trusting the credibility of a company which tried to sneak hidden functionality past Apple, got caught, and then refused to comment on the issue to it’s customers until 4 months later.

    That said, there are a lot of rogue developers out there and there are a lot of rogue clients. Both parties need to do their research before signing any contracts and have a payment schedule set to achievable milestones. If your developer isn’t hitting those milestones, sack him.

    Oh, and the “we’ll give you 40% profit if you build the app and we publish it” is pretty shameful.

  26. Oliver Cameron
    4:56pm, February 3, 2011

    @Ben Dodson Again, which developers are you paying significantly more than $100 an hour? I think you will find the average is around $100.

  27. Nick
    4:58pm, February 3, 2011

    Objectively, there has to be another side to the story.

    We’ve got TTT’s. Now I’d like to hear the developer’s side.

    What we’ve been told here is a pretty common story of slipping deadlines… but are we sure that requirements weren’t changed during the process? It’s not mentioned, but that certainly could be a reason. Any developer who has been doing it for a while can tell you scope/requirement creep horror stories.

    I’m not saying that this guy did or didn’t follow through on what was expected, but on the whole, this is reaaaaaaally poor form from both parties. You’re aired the dirty laundry, and now I’m effectively laughing at both groups’ skid marks.

    I have to take issue with some of the things said though.

    Firstly, why did you guys pay for incomplete work? This is Business 101 stuff. You have to be a hardass sometimes, and you had a binding contract. Payment upon completion. If the work is not completed, you do not pay. Under any circumstances. Protect yourself first. Let them take YOU to court to get their money if they feel they’ve been wronged. As soon as you paid the second half of the invoice, you effectively said “We are accepting the product you have given us as complete, and hereby release you from doing any more work on it.”

    Secondly, not paying a penny until the work is done? You guys are designers. You know better than that. Good luck finding a developer who works on spec. Do your due diligence, yes. Seek out worthwhile and competent developers to complete your apps - but do not set the industry back with this ridiculous expectation of 100% invoice upon completion. There is not one single agency in the world worth their salt that works that way.

  28. Tom Clarke
    5:01pm, February 3, 2011

    Sorry to hear this. I have made many iPhone apps working in my spare time. I would have gotten this app done in a few months part time work.

    Remember always work incrementally as app requirements keep changing fast. I you try to do super duler features in one go this is what you get.

  29. Michael Langford
    5:02pm, February 3, 2011

    What sort of developers do you think will work with no deposit?

    Usually, the really bad or naive kind. Especially for fixed fee work.

    If you’re doing fixed fee work, you pay per deliverable with a deposit to make sure you’re getting what you paid for, and make sure your contract has a cancellation policy.

  30. Mark
    5:05pm, February 3, 2011

    I’m sorry you’re going through this. I’ve been there a few times. I know it tastes bitter, but why don’t you spend your time finishing the project instead of making a bigger deal about this. By you guys going public with this, you’re only hurting yourselves. Take the high road and move on to more productive pastures.

  31. Ben Dodson
    5:06pm, February 3, 2011

    @Oliver C - I don’t pay any developers, I’m a developer myself. The average contracting price in the UK is around £300 per day (so around $450).

  32. Ben Dodson
    5:07pm, February 3, 2011

    @Oliver C - Ha, just realised I completely misread hours for days.. stupid cold. You can ignore me now.

  33. val
    5:10pm, February 3, 2011

    *grabs popcorn*
    *waits for reply*

  34. drunknbass
    5:11pm, February 3, 2011

    @Oliver Cameron

    100$ is kind of in the middle.
    and why would a dev work for less than that when they can find an iOS gig pretty easily that pays close to that without the headaches of being a contractor?

    And taptaptaps stuff is pretty nice, so i wouldn’t expect them to hire “average” developers, because who wants an average app?

  35. David
    5:17pm, February 3, 2011

    The whole situation sucks! The only point I’d contest is your tip on not paying until delivery. I’m a web designer and it’s pretty common to charge 1/2 up front so I don’t get screwed by the client, who are often (not in your case) the untrustworthy party :)

  36. Mac
    5:17pm, February 3, 2011

    I think I worked for that same employer in Texas where you worked on Mobius. :)

    I work in Apps now and when I talk to a potential dev, I ask this question: “You have a sample that looks like the game I’m talking about?” But when I was a programmer, I hated showing samples… go figure.

  37. Yada
    5:20pm, February 3, 2011

    Ugh. How massively unprofessional of Tap Tap Tap to post this!

  38. an end user
    5:29pm, February 3, 2011

    Tap Tap Tap sounds more like crap crap crap! Grow up a bit, suck it up, learn, and move on. Publishing shit like this makes you and your company look like its ran by a 12 year old! Good luck!! I am deleting any app that was made by you from my phone simply because of this bullshit post! And… I will make sure to tell my friends and their friends never to download your shit ever! Peace!

  39. Jason
    5:36pm, February 3, 2011

    Not very professional to post something like this. Word travels fast, as does existing reputation. Casasanta has a bit of a negative reputation already. Expect that any iOS/Mac developer worth their salt will have heard about this and will avoid working with him. I still want to hear the other side of this story. A lot of this post doesn’t make sense.

    Also: smart developers require a deposit (25% to 50%) up front before work starts, to avoid situations where the client flakes out, as sometimes happens.

  40. Jamie Halmick
    5:38pm, February 3, 2011

    Really?!? You put this much dirty laundry and bile into the public and then ask other devs to work with you on spec?

  41. Vince LaMonica
    6:15pm, February 3, 2011

    This blog post will only cause more damage for tap tap tap. It shows an extreme level of immaturity and unprofessionalism. I doubt any well-respected designer or developer will want to do contract work for tap tap tap after reading this piece of garbage.

  42. John Haugeland
    6:16pm, February 3, 2011

    You … paid someone $20,000 for one month of work, with no escrow? And now you expect someone else to work for you on spec, also with no escrow, after you did something ugly and personal like this in public?

    And you thought a plasma app was worth $20,000 and a month of development time?

    Good lord.

  43. Mike
    6:16pm, February 3, 2011

    Sounds to me like there’s a lot of equally shady or inexperienced developers chiming in here. A significant majority of contract developers I interview are problematic if its a single project to single developer ratio.

    Why do I say this? With a 1:N ratio of programmers, your chances of idea exchange increase, issues due to a godhead complex shrink (someone should write a paper on the inverse relationship of the godhead complex to number of developers on a project), and the development process becomes a “sport” if you will between developers.

    With a single developer on a project, you suffer all of the detriments, and few if any benefits (aside from reduced cost overhead). All projects I hire for now I bring in a minimum of two developers, and as part of the final interview process I ask them to work on a 1/2 day project together (paying of course). That method has been highly successful for me.

  44. Andrew Hedges
    6:19pm, February 3, 2011

    In case there was any confusion, Danushka mistook Tap Tap Tap for Tapulous (for whom I work) when he posted his comment referencing me!

    I do want to comment on one point you made, John. I’ve met you. You’re a stand up person and a savvy businessman. I’m sure you’re trustworthy and pay your bills when the promised work is delivered. As a longtime freelancer, though, I would not consider taking a contract from someone who refused to pay anything up front.

    My common terms have long been 1/2 up front, 1/2 on completion. For bigger projects, I might break it up into 3rds or 4ths with payments due at the achievement of agreed upon milestones.

    Unfortunately, there are enough businesses who are quite willing to stiff honest freelancers that I can’t recommend anyone take a chance on companies using the terms you describe.

  45. Junior G.
    6:24pm, February 3, 2011

    I got this great read from the top tweets on twitter, it’s a remarkable story you have there. It seems a little like The Social Network! Business deals that turn into backstabbing and deception; at least that’s how I see it.

  46. Jon
    6:37pm, February 3, 2011

    For those who are saying that they shouldn’t have released this, the guy tweeted a libelous tweet. what are they supposed to do? I don’t think they would have posted this had that tweet not been posted. I think it is but right for the company to defend itself especially when its reputation is at stake. At least the public would be wary with regard to dealing with that developer and his company.

  47. rosstafarian
    6:45pm, February 3, 2011

    wow i’ve unfortunetely met/worked with a few people just like this guy it’s amazing how similar their personalities seem especially in the ways they weasel out of responsibility and try to pass on the blame. The really sad part is that these types of people COMPLETELY believe their own bull.(According to my wealth of psych101 knowledge i think it has something to do with father issues growing up ;)

  48. Simon
    6:51pm, February 3, 2011

    Sure, you guys are the victim once again. Because we all know you’re all nice and god honest people, and you never lied or cheated on your customers or partners before.

  49. Sergei Filippov
    6:58pm, February 3, 2011

    Thanks for the post. A great read and warning.

  50. Michael
    7:03pm, February 3, 2011

    I’m surprised at how many people are giving TTT a hard time. I didn’t think this post was particularly vindictive or petty. A lot of what they said is objectively verifiable, so I don’t see how they are trashing the guy.

  51. Scott
    7:32pm, February 3, 2011

    I think that taking sides on an issue based on hearing one side of the story is almost as stupid as posting it in the first place.

    Airing dirty laundry, whether you are right, wrong, or somewhere in between, is amateur hour tactics and shows that you shouldn’t be running a business, or whoever is running the business should put a clamp on the typing hands of whoever posted this. It’s just bad policy, and any employer or company worth working for will not engage in this.

    If you’re truly wronged, and there’s not more to this story (which I doubt), take your legal recourse, and stop involving potential employees and customers with your mistakes and your lack of professionalism.

    I don’t even run a business, and I know that much.

  52. Scott
    7:40pm, February 3, 2011

    By the way, if Voices isn’t a total rip-off of Voice Candy, I don’t know what is. In fact, I actually bought it thinking it was from the same company who made the Voice Candy Mac app.

  53. Nick
    8:39pm, February 3, 2011

    ^Hear, hear!

  54. Jeff
    8:41pm, February 3, 2011

    Only amateur designers would agree to start a project with no retainer. Any real studio will require a “down payment”.

    Amen Andrew Hedges.

  55. John
    8:58pm, February 3, 2011

    Well the source clearly is not in the public domain.

    // Copyright 2010 Black Pixel Luminance. All rights reserved.

    Evidently TTT doesn’t even own some of it.

  56. DRoss
    9:10pm, February 3, 2011

    The contract says you paid 10k upfront and the final 10k upon final delivery. I’m assuming you only lost the first 10k since the final product was not delivered?

    In any event, losing 10k or 20k sucks and the schmuck deserves a nice smack in the mouth.

  57. Jonathan Wight
    10:07pm, February 3, 2011

    Looks like this made it to hacker news. Hello hacker news horde!

    Please be aware that this is just one side of the story. John Casasanta has a long torrid history of being a complete douchebag, in fact try googling for “John Casasanta is a douchebag” and you’ll find quite a few hits with ugly stories behind them.

  58. Jack
    10:31pm, February 3, 2011

    I’m sorry that you posted this very unprofessional story. I had serious concerns when Camera+ was taken off the Apple store, and now this very unskilfull posting. Although I have purchased Camera+, I won’t buy another product from TTT.

  59. clawsout
    10:38pm, February 3, 2011

    OK - let’s do a quick run-down of TapTapTap history:

    It wasn’t your fault when TTT split because you couldn’t get along with Sophia Teutschler?
    You weren’t the assholes when you publicly made fun of other iOS Devs who used Private APIs or otherwise “hid” features. Except you were at that very moment doing the same.
    You weren’t the dickheads who went completely silent for months when Apple caught you and pulled Camera+ off the iTunes Store.
    And now we’re supposed to believe you were the completely innocent party in this latest public kerfuffle with Black Pixel? Yeah right.

    What are you trying to do here - out-Jason-Calcanis, Jason Calcanis?

  60. Chris
    11:20pm, February 3, 2011


    “What are you trying to do here – out-Jason-Calcanis, Jason Calcanis?”

    This may be my favorite comment of all time.

  61. Sikosis
    11:28pm, February 3, 2011

    I did an iPhone app for someone and worked on the pay when finished model. The only problem was I spent 3 months getting it working to which they then turned around and asked for the source code instead. So, I gave them the revised pricing and then heard nothing from them. A complete waste of my time and their time as a year has gone by and they still have no app. The half now, half on delivery method seems to work or in bigger projects paying per milestone.

  62. Rick
    11:38pm, February 3, 2011

    $400,000? Are we talking about the same app store? You couldn’t even make that if your app went #1, and sorry, but a plasma simulator won’t go #1.

    This post is so full of crazy I don’t even know where to start.

    I could build that app in my sleep. I’m exactly the guy you should have hired. But I would never take the gig, because you want to offer a profit split as compensation (I cannot LOL hard enough when I hear this), and you don’t want to put any money up to get started.

    Based on that, and without even hearing the developer’s side, I’m taking it.

  63. Rick
    11:39pm, February 3, 2011

    I will add that I, personally, would have done this app for half of what you paid, however.

  64. someguy
    11:44pm, February 3, 2011

    I can’t see anywhere to place the sushi order, and yet you seem to be selling sushi.

  65. Charles Gardner
    12:30am, February 4, 2011

    I see the problem, and I have a solution, its actually quite simple. Shoot me an email, will give you architectural documentation on what classes need be created and how to jazz it up. Buy me a beer!

  66. Phil Breazy
    12:50am, February 4, 2011

    Absolutely horrendous on his part. You guys handled it wonderfully, however. I’ll definitely be trying to keep up with how this ends up!

  67. AngryMan9000
    1:38am, February 4, 2011

    Thats some bull beeping beep. That rule about not paying until its done to your standard (especially if an app takes a few months and you have an artist to pay as well) is absurd… How many people can simply NOT pay there mortagage for a few months in the hope at the end of the project that are satisfied enough to simply pay it. Oh yeah sorry sussy I cant pay for mortagage this month but at the end of contract I just might be able to…

    Usually you would do something like 25% up front. Then you would milestones in which you would give another 25%. If they fail to meet your standards you dont pay fine, but no way anyone can go the three months on good faith alone. BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP

  68. Gerred
    1:43am, February 4, 2011

    Why is the page so LONG? I can scroll into the abyss and hit the Challenger Deep on this thing.

  69. Autotom
    2:01am, February 4, 2011

    Pretty unprofessional to slander on an ex-contractor like that.. I sure as hell wouldn’t want to associate myself with your company.

    David, if you’re reading this i’d suggest you sue taptaptap for defamation

    im sure they’re right, and you probably were a shit worker, but christ almighty this is just poor form.

  70. Some guy
    2:26am, February 4, 2011

    There is nothing more satisfying than firing bad clients. Looks like you may have had it coming.

  71. Tbee
    2:50am, February 4, 2011

    Sad story and unfortunately often true; guys like this give developers a bad name.

    Unfortunately things can also be reversed; where no matter what quality work you deliver, the client will never approve and refuse to pay (even though they later did take the software into production).

    There should be a middle way, so both parties can have their risc minimized.

  72. Aaron Cruikshank
    3:40am, February 4, 2011

    I’ve been a contractor and a business owner. I’ve been shafted by clients and contractors alike but good god man, take this post down. It makes you guys look like massive douchebags.

  73. Donald
    4:36am, February 4, 2011

    I find it odd that people would argue that dirty laundry should not be aired:

    If this went down as document in this post, they did the right thing by exposing this behavior. They also did the write thing by exposing the code, so people can see what $20 000 of Daniel Pasco’s developer times buys them.

    There was no name calling, the other party have their own forum to respond, and may the best man win in terms of google ranking!

  74. Craig Moore
    4:55am, February 4, 2011

    Hi John, will check it out later when I have a little more time, and might have a go at making an WebGL version if you don’t mind - you did put it in the public domain ^^.

  75. Filipe Lima
    7:37am, February 4, 2011

    Well as a consultant myself it this is definitely an interesting read. Its easy to get over our heads with what we can and cannot do.

    I remember when working as a junior dev… always being super positive = “yes yes done in no time”… but in time and with people to slow me down… I learned caution is your friend, and apply the brakes as soon as you dont feel safe.

    As opposed as it might feel, people will actually react much more confidently in your “assessment experience”, then if you go all guns blazing and ill get it done.

    They say offence is the best defence… but not in this case.

  76. Eric
    8:44am, February 4, 2011

    Actually I have fired clients before. Basically finished whatever work I agreed to do and refuse to take on more work for that client. Usually that’s the clients that ask for too much free work, or take forever getting me the assets they’re supposed to supply so I can deliver.

    Remember for all the bad developers out there, there is actually a bad customer. It might not be you, but they’re out there.

  77. Richard Harris
    9:22am, February 4, 2011

    We are a mobile development company with many successful apps and references. Give us a call, we can help.
    Richard Harris, CEO
    Moonbeam Development, LLC

  78. Sean O
    9:49am, February 4, 2011

    Wow! A 140 character tweet gets responded to with a blog post of over 1000 words. If I followed the developer on Twitter, that tweet would have lasted about 5 minutes before it was off my HootSuite screen. This caused so much injury to taptaptap that it required them to place over 1000 words and a copy of the code on their site.

    I am just an iPhone and iPad user. I don’t do development. A friend pointed me to this posting so I read it out of curiosity. The single learning that I have on this is that TapTapTap is managed by a bunch of children.

    Supposedly, Abraham Lincoln would write letters of anger to people and then mail them to himself. When he read the returned mail, if he still felt the same way, he sent it to the source of his frustration. Perhaps TapTapTap should adopt a similar tactic.

    I will do my best to never buy an app from TapTapTap, they are too childish to receive my money.

  79. Shaw
    10:12am, February 4, 2011

    This should be titled “How NOT to managed a hired consultant”.

    Alarm bells should have rang instantly when the contractor fails to reach milestones and starts to make excuses. There should be a meeting right then and there with a first and final warning given. If situation doesn’t improve you should cut him loose and count your losses, or seek damage/refund per contract signed.

    Daniel Pasco may not be a competent and honest worker, but that does not mean he’s responsible 100% for the mess you find yourself in, since you kept using him even when it’s apparent that he can’t deliver.

    When a single contractor can bring your entire business strategy to a crash landing, it’s time to examine yourselves.

    Also, now you’re advocating “not a single cent until full project delivery and complete satisfaction”? Now you’re just setting it up so that you can easily screw the other party in similar ways. Good luck finding somebody that will essentially be working for free until you’re “satisfied”.

  80. Ben
    10:19am, February 4, 2011

    All this over an app that is basically a silly toy. Isn’t this the kind of project that CS majors do to show off?

    Plus great job promoting spec work.

  81. Steve Clark
    10:34am, February 4, 2011


  82. Slobodan
    10:58am, February 4, 2011

    Sean O. above really needs to grow up. Fast!

  83. John Harrison
    11:11am, February 4, 2011

    I might take a crack at this given that it isn’t all that different from stuff I’m already doing in my Manifesto Visualizer.

  84. Johny Stewart
    11:23am, February 4, 2011

    Beside the douchebag-sounding post.

    I can’t imagine myself how anyone could be willing to do the work and give you a 60% cut.

    What’s the advantage of you publishing it and not oneself?

  85. Enrique Ramírez
    11:57am, February 4, 2011

    Not the way.

    Fighting like childs and pointing fingers speaks poorly of both of you. That’s all I’m saying on that matter.

    Now, releasing the source code is good and all, and I do understand you not wanting to spend any more money on an app you don’t know it’ll come out right… but working for spec job? There’s no good developer that’ll do that, I can assure you that much.

    Also… that source code looks like something even I could write in a boring afternoon, and I’m no programmer. If you saw the alerts and didn’t run away… well, it’s not the time to complain.

    Sorry to hear about your bad experience, but this is just not the way to fix things.

  86. Sean O
    12:59pm, February 4, 2011

    @Slobodan Why do I need to grow up? I am not committing libel against anyone even if TTT is.

  87. Guy
    1:21pm, February 4, 2011

    Having made around 80 applications for brands like Taco Bell, HBO, Honda, Kraft, Budweiser etc… and as a qualified lawyer, you should be getting proper contracts written. The “plasma contract” is pretty amateur and doesn’t even cover liability.

    40% split sounds like a sweet deal based on Taptaptap’s track record. You’re probably one of the only app brands that would be worth doing development on profit share.

    Get in touch if you would like to chat, otherwise best of luck.

  88. Jakub Koter
    1:38pm, February 4, 2011

    We’ll do one in 3D, but can we scrap that code? How can I contact you?

  89. Pinoroho
    1:59pm, February 4, 2011

    I think alot of developers are missing the point of this blog. Tap Tap Tap is offering an opportunity of a lifetime and comments are stating that Tap Tap Tap being petty and greedy for giving 40%. Some of you people are just idiots and just don’t get it. These guys are giving some lucky programmer the opportunity of a lifetime!! They would be crazy to just publish it on the App store themselves!! I wish I had the programming skills but I least have the common sense to identify opportunity!! Some of you guys are just plain idiots!!!!!!

  90. Pinoroho
    2:05pm, February 4, 2011

    And another thing. If any of you had any kind of entrepreneurial spirit you wouldn’t say “contact me” you’d have enough sense to find out how to contact them!!!! WTF is wrong with people these days!!

  91. Judge
    2:19pm, February 4, 2011

    Umm, in this case a mentally ill person will try to solve the problem like you have, but a 12 year old who was if even slightly curious about how to manage people would have prevented this with a few minutes of research on google. However, before this blog cools down post some ads or something and maybe you will be lucky enough to get some bananas heard it helps you think better.

  92. Brian B
    10:33pm, February 4, 2011

    John Casasanta’s rep sucks.Something stinks here and it’s not the leftovers sitting on my desk. I want to hear the other guy’s story. Either way, do your own due diligence. And that goes for you developers salivating over making 40% off of someone else’s copyrighted source code.

  93. Tom
    12:35am, February 5, 2011

    People are getting a little fiesty because their good friend Daniel Pasco wont get hired again. Maybe he shouldn’t have tweeted about it, maybe he should have just laid low.

    And ditto for this is the code you get for from Daniel Pasco for $20,000. This is a great demonstration of his skills, for anybody else out there who might be interested in hiring him.

  94. tadej5553
    4:23pm, February 5, 2011

    Funny, I thought you dig “rocket scientists”

  95. K.C. Masterpiece
    5:36pm, February 5, 2011

    Regardless of what transpired, John Casasanta has, with this single blog post, practically guaranteed that any reputable, quality contracting firm will stay well away from TapTapTap.

  96. Beaker
    10:09am, February 6, 2011

    KC Masterpiece. Who gives a crap if a “reputable” contractor never does work for these guys. There are young hungry experienced contractors that will certainly fit the bill. And ps, your barbecue sauce sucks.

  97. Devin Walker
    1:46pm, February 6, 2011

    Awesome post, made me laugh… but sorry for your misfortune. That guy was a joke. $20,000?! Man oh man.

  98. Tom Launder
    3:21pm, February 6, 2011

    Thanks for the article. I have a few horror stories myself with outsourcing development and paying hourly. Never again.

    In fairness though, you should rethink the “no money” rule. Having learned my lesson, I prefer to work with milestones and milestone payments.

    I put a key milestone upfront for a 20% payment. If they hit that and the product is acceptable they get paid. The other milestones and payments follow until project completion.

  99. John Haugeland
    7:50am, February 7, 2011

    Andrew Hedges: (Thank you for the compliments. Where did we meet? As a businessman, oh if you knew what I was building. ;) )

    Yeah, that’s what escrow is for. If you won’t take a job without being paid up front, then the employer is asked to take all the risk. If the employer won’t pay until the product is delivered up front, then the developer is taking all the risk.

    Now I voluntarily do the latter because I have ego problems and I expect people to not want to walk on my software. To date, only one group has, and I believe I’ve gotten more opportunities this way than the work I’ve lost stacks up to.

    But you can’t ethically expect that from an employer - especially not a small one.

    That’s why escrow exists. The employer gives the money to a bank after you and they agree on guidelines for when the money should go one way, the other, or get split.

    Everything goes well, the developer gets the money, the bank gets a small fee, and a business relationship is born that either immediately or soon removes the need for escrow.

    Everything goes badly, and a trusted third party - a bank - makes what’s probably a less bad decision than an angry one party would have.

    This blog post isn’t helping anything.

  100. Richard
    1:32pm, February 7, 2011

    Sorry that you found yourself in that situation. It’s disappointing, more than anything else.

    I’ve been in shoes similar to Daniel’s - I didn’t take any money up-front, but I was the contractor working on a project that was dragging on and on, with little to show for it… there are a bunch of ways it can happen. What happened for me was that I started feeling so bad about how much the project had slipped, that I didn’t want to work on it, and that just made it slip further, etc… it’s stupid and irrational, but what can I say? I’m not perfect. I have, at least, learned from the experience.

    So I’m with the others who are saying that this was avoidable: maybe you would still have parted ways with Daniel without a finished app from him, but you might have done so with a lot less time wasted and a lot less acrimony.

    If you thought that maybe he was in over his head, that the project was more than he could handle at the time, etc… why the hell did you wait for *him* to realize that, instead of asking him about it yourself?

    Two months in, there were exactly two options that you should have been considering: either find out what the problem is that is delaying development, or decide that it’s not worth the effort and fire the guy. Doing nothing and letting the situation drag onwards doesn’t help anything - it usually makes things worse.

    I imagine the problem you’ll have with that is that firing the guy *definitely* means your advance was wasted, while keeping the guy means it only *might* have been wasted, because maybe he’ll still deliver eventually. Am I right?

    But how much money did each extra day on the schedule cost you? While he wasn’t finishing the app, your team still had to draw salaries and keep the lights on. If you don’t come up with some kind of per-diem cost for a project then it’s very difficult to reason about what kind of delay is acceptable. There comes a point where it’s cheaper to cancel the project, take what that frees up and put it somewhere more fruitful.

  101. Andy W
    3:29pm, February 8, 2011

    Whatever the rights and wrongs of this story, and who wronged who and where the blame lies, it’s a bit disingenuous to post that particular screenshot as representative of what you say was delivered for your $20,000.

    A prior post on your own blog, and downloading and running the source code you release into the wild, shows a very different App from what that screenshot would suggest.

    Now this may have been after sinking more money into the code, but to not state what what finally paid and finally delivered does you both a disservice.

    It may not have reached your own incredibly high standards, but that screenshot suggests a much lower quality App than you obviously had at some point in the saga.

  102. Cosmin
    7:19am, February 9, 2011

    Hi John,

    Sorry for this unpleasant experience, unfortunately those things happen. Anyway, it’s only a minor set-back for you guys.

    Your proposition sounds interesting to me, I’ve sent you an email, have you received it? If not please contact me.

  103. Cosma
    4:53pm, February 16, 2011

    This is is just a lame PR trick.

  104. iOS dev pro
    4:55pm, February 16, 2011

    Very unprofessional of you to post this: it also shows your lack of business acumen on two levels: firstly, no experienced dev would work without some sort of up-front retainer (except a kid fresh out of school) and secondly, projects don’t always turn out: no need to publicly whine and bemoan when things turned out poorly. Very petty and unprofessional, taptaptap.

    Developers beware: never work for these jerks.

  105. Christopher Pickslay
    6:28pm, February 17, 2011

    “Don’t pay a single nickel up-front for any work to be done. Only pay when the work is actually delivered and only when it’s to your satisfaction.”

    Many a consultant has delivered good work and ended up spending months in collections trying to get paid. A more fair approach is to check references and hire someone good, pay a small retainer up front for good will, and expect regular (weekly in the app world) deliveries of working code, paying for progress along the way.

  106. Olav
    2:06am, May 28, 2011

    I made one of these!

  107. Davidq
    7:37am, October 4, 2011

    Did you guys ever get this app built?

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