How (not) to Complicate to Profit

One of the common tactics to earn a fortune in any industry, is complicate to profit. Creating confusion and causing chaos can work to your advantage. There is even an entire chapter in The Art of War dedicated to cause confusion. It works for a simple reason: we are more willing to part with our money for something that is more complicated than a simple common thing.

Take Docker for example

Docker Containers has become so popular because it is simple and effective. But Docker has become increasingly complex, as the pressure to monetise is on. Docker Toolbox, Kitematic, Docker Cloud, Docker Datacenter, Docker Certified, Docker EE… “WTF is that?! Sounds really cool. Here, take my money already, please…”

Another Pricing Example

Let’s say, you can purchase a package of 100 OCR scans for $9.99. An A4 size page costs $0.10, a receipt costs $0.20 and a business card costs $0.20. So, how much does it actually cost to scan 100 receipts? Clue: not $9.99.

Watch out for those who Cause Confusion

I’m not saying that complicate to profit is bad. After all, complexity can be necessary, and profit is a positive thing. But we should watch out for those around us who cause confusion! Companies and the people we work with will employ this tactic more than we realise. When it happens, avoid getting drawn into the confusion. Step back, do your own research, deconstruct the problem. The solution is often simple and cheap.

Taggun Needs to be Simple to Succeed

Simplify to success is the counter strategy. I build Taggun for fun and profit. For now, a simple architecture is necessary for me to keep a low burn rate. It also enables me to have fun building features and support my customers. That’s why I decided to build Taggun with a simple request-response architecture; not bloated with asynchronous requests coupled with webhook callback events on top of websocket communication backed by messaging/queue system. It would be an utter nightmare for one person to support a complex system like that. KISS. I do use Docker extensively, but only where it makes most sense.


I follow a lot of principles from these two books: Start Small. Stay Small. and Getting Real. I have had lots of fun building Taggun and other projects on late nights and weekends. But I also know that Taggun needs to be profitable in order for me to sustain it as a product. One day when I’m under pressure in the future, I can look back at this very first blog post and remind myself to simplify to succeed, not complicate to profit.