LearnUnicorns and Poets

writes on May 3, 2011

As time progresses, it’s becoming clear that there are two primary characters in the web industry: Unicorns and Poets. Let me explain …


A Unicorn is a skilled visual designer with a solid understanding of UX.

A Magical Unicorn is a great visual designer, with a solid understanding of UX and a willingness to learn business and marketing.


A Poet is a talented developer who’s leveraging agile tools like Rails, Django, EC2, Heroku and more.

A Master Poet is a talented developer who’s leveraging agile tools, committing to open-source projects and a willingness to learn business and marketing.

What about the Assassins?

There will always be a need for specialists (aka Assassins). As a team grows beyond a couple founders, it makes sense to add team members who can focus on specific areas of a web product. Front-end Developers, Copy Writers and Marketers are a great example of this.

Magical Unicorns and Master Poets

In 2011 and 2012, we’re going to see a huge number of products launched by Magical Unicorns and Master Poets.

If you’re an Assassin, it doesn’t mean you can’t launch the next Big Thing, but what it does mean is you’ll have to team up with a couple other founders and they might ask “Why do we need you?”

The University system isn’t agile enough to properly train people up to be Magical Unicorns and Master Poets. We think we’re helping fix this problem with Think Vitamin Membership (especially once we re-launch it as Treehouse – you’re going to love it). It’s tough though, and the more support experienced folks can give new-comers, the better.

[Thanks to Jasecoop for getting my cogs turning on this subject. Cheers to winemegup for the nice photo.]

18 Responses to “Unicorns and Poets”

  1. adam alexander on May 5, 2011 at 10:31 pm said:

    Shout outs to my mongrel centaur-aligned assassin bretheren! We’ll find industry validation soon enough!

  2. Bird Jones on May 5, 2011 at 4:36 am said:

    The two groups I see in the industry these days are ex-creators who become a kind of upper-class lecture circuit group who ride first class on airlines to events around the world, and the pawns who attend their events and pay for that.

  3. I am a member of The Dead Poets Society and I have a huge horn growing on my forehead

  4. OH! MY! GOD!

    OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD! I knew this day would come, I just never thought it would be THIS INCREDIBLY WEIRD! I’m literally sat here with my mouth open, and a drop of drool hanging from my chin.

    From the very first time I read one of your articles, Ryan, I’ve KNOWN you’re into hallucinogenic drugs! I imagine you’re floating on a sea of cotton candy, with the prettiest words in fine print brushing against your skin.

  5. I *think* http://carbonmade.com started the unicorn trend. We’ve been rocking “Uni” as our logo since December, 2005.

  6. What if you’re both a Poet and an Assassin?

  7. Anonymous on May 3, 2011 at 9:54 am said:

    I’m going to refer to myself now on my CV as a ‘Rockstar Ninja Master Poetic Assassin riding a Magical Unicorn through Lava! Damn right! I said LAVA!!!’ – That will be the header. For special skills I’ll add that I wrestled Battle Cat and won.

    I think I have had enough coffee for today :S

  8. Very nicely put. I think you might have to wrestle Amy Hoy over the canonical definition of “unicorn” in this space though. 🙂

  9. Interesting way to “categorize”. Although I feel there should be a pirate there somewhere… I’d really strive to be a Pirate! For now, I’ll try to get the magical component of being a poet going!

  10. Anonymous on May 3, 2011 at 9:26 am said:

    What on Earth have you been smoking?

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