As analysts, pundits and researchers alike seek to understand what turned Apple from a technology afterthought into the largest company in the world, they would do well to listen to the man most responsible for that recovery. In a 1995 interview, the late Steve Jobs claimed that the secret to his and Apple’s success was talent. “We’ve gone to exceptional lengths to hire the best people,” he said, believing that the talented resource was twenty-five times more valuable than an average alternative. For Microsoft founder Bill Gates, the multiple was even higher:

A great lathe operator commands several times the wage of an average lathe operator, but a great writer of software code is worth 10,000 times the price of an average software writer.

While the actual number might be up for debate, the importance of technical talent is not. The most successful companies today are those that understand the strategic role that developers will play in their success or failure. Not just successful technology companies – virtually every company today needs a developer strategy. There’s a reason that ESPN and Sears have rolled out API programs, that companies are being bought not for their products but their people. The reason is that developers are the most valuable resource in business.

How did we get here? How did developers become the most important constituency in business seemingly overnight? The New Kingmakers explores the rise of the developer class, its implications and provides suggestions for navigating the new developer-centric landscape.