From CEO to code monkey

Justinus Adriaanse was recognised as one of SA’s top Internet CEOs after growing Private Property to the most visited property site in Africa.

During his tenure as Private Property CEO, Adriaanse also successfully conducted multiple rounds of funding and acquired several businesses on the continent.

In 2012 Adriaanse stepped down as Private Property CEO, decided to change careers, and learned to code.

He attended the Starter League – a coding boot camp – which provided him with the foundation to become a Ruby on Rails developer.

In May 2014 Adriaanse joined Platform45, a mobile and web software development company, as a development intern.

After an 8-month internship, he became a permanent Ruby on Rails developer at the company.

This raises the question: Why would a high-powered CEO leave his executive position to become a software development intern?

Why Adriaanse did it

Adriaanse said he loves the start-up phase of a business, and that he really likes technology, software, and web-based businesses.

“I would like to do a few more start-ups in my life, and would like to bootstrap as long as possible. To have a team where most people can help to build the product is a big help,” he said.

He said it was challenging to manage the ongoing development of the Private Property system and the IT team without sufficient technical knowledge.

“I wanted to make sure that when I am in the same situation again, I can do it better.”

He said since he started to code, he realised he loved the profession.

“I think I missed a chance to learn it a long time ago, but very glad I took the leap at 35.”

From CEO to full-time coder

To move from running a large Internet company to becoming a full-time developer is a big change, which Adriaanse said has been great fun so far.

“Clients sometimes are surprised when I challenge their thinking and decisions, but I have been able to provide value, I hope.”

“Platform45 has been awesome. The vibe is great and I have learned so much. It has also been a switch from a mostly Microsoft environment to almost completely open-sourced, which I really enjoyed.”

He said it has been an eye-opening experience to be involved from both sides of product development – business and technical.

“I continue to learn how to make these sides work together better. I want to continue learning and get better at it, and when the right opportunity comes along, build a start-up.”

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From CEO to code monkey