TokyoDev 2023 Recap

Photo of Paul McMahon

Paul McMahon

Founder of TokyoDev

2023 was an interesting year. While the tech market crashed in the US, I’d decided to expand TokyoDev, growing it beyond myself, and reinvesting the success we’ve had so far to expand the business further than I could on my own. As I heard about wave after wave of layoffs, it had me wondering whether that was the right call.

Fortunately, it seems to have been. Though Japan’s market for hiring international engineers wasn’t as frothy as it had been the previous couple of years, new international developers could also get into the country, which seems to have balanced things out.

From a revenue perspective, 2023’s was slightly up compared to the previous year. But beyond that, we’ve had a ton of other successes that I’d like to highlight in this recap.

71 developers got a job via TokyoDev

In 2023, we tracked 71 developers that were successfully hired after applying for a position on TokyoDev. This was only up slightly from last year’s 69 developers. When we’re used to talking about numbers in “internet scale”, this may not seem like a lot. But for many of these people, it was their first job in Japan, and I’m proud to have helped them set their life in a new direction.

41 articles were written by 14 authors

One of the biggest changes we made in 2023 was having outside contributors write articles for the site. In 2022, I was the sole author of the articles on the site, and wrote three of them. This year, we had 40 articles contributed by 14 different authors!

The most popular article by page views was my most recent one, Unbricking my MacBook took an email to Tim Cook. Not exactly relevant to the core mission of the site, but the wide appeal of it helped it go viral.

The top five articles by page views from other contributors were

  1. Working as an Indonesian Software Engineer in Japan by Anzhari Purnomo
  2. How I Obtained a Business Manager Visa in Japan by Bryn Dyment
  3. Working as a Filipino Software Developer in Japan by Mary Grygjeanne Grace Icay
  4. Paternity Leave in Japan by Keiko Kimoto
  5. How to Write Resumes for Jobs in Japan by Scott Rothrock

713 developers answered our survey

Since 2019, TokyoDev has conducted an annual survey of international software developers living in Japan. The 2023 edition was the biggest yet, with 713 developers telling us about things like salary, working conditions, and the technology they used.

This survey also saw us move from a simple Google form and some custom charts, to a more dynamic and customizable solution we were able to offer by partnering with Devographics.

2,000+ people joined our Discord

In 2023, over 2,000 people joined TokyoDev’s Discord, bringing our total member count to 3,949. It’s been especially rewarding for me to see all the support the community has provided for each other. I’ve also enjoyed watching people join the server from abroad to ask questions about getting a job in Japan, to them actually landing one and making it to the country.

1,244 commits were made to our main branches

Technology wise, I’d been keeping TokyoDev as simple as possible. All code is technical debt after all. Historically, the site has been a completely static one, generated via Middleman.

However, in late 2022, I decided to finally add our first dynamic component: an application form for jobs that we’d use when companies didn’t have a good solution to track applications themselves. I delegated this task to contractors, and commissioned a custom Ruby on Rails app (my tech stack of choice). The main job board, articles, and everything else stayed in the same static site.

With 2023, I decided it was time to pull the trigger and migrate everything to the Ruby on Rails app, and we spent the first half of the year doing this. It laid the foundation for other dynamic components, like our recently added custom filtering of jobs, and should serve us well going forward.

In a similar vein, we swapped out our custom CSS for Tailwind. That allowed us to easily add a dark mode to the site, and should speed up future frontend development.

10 events were hosted by us

2023 saw us hold our first in person events, centered around the burgeoning Discord community. We hosted a total of five in person meetups, including a barbeque catered by our community moderator, Scott. We also experimented with online events, having two “office hour” style events where community members could ask questions, and three interview-style events where I spoke with another developer about their life in Japan.

5 new contractors joined us

I’m still the only full time employee of TokyoDev, but we added 5 new part-time contractors, bringing our total to 8 people with ongoing contracts with us.

8 organizations were sponsored by us

In late 2022, we looked at supporting communities that empower women in technology. In addition to sponsoring those 5 communities for 2023, we also sponsored Women Developers Summit 2023, JSConf JP, and CreativeTokyo. As the site originally got its start from me attending developer events in Japan and blogging about them, it was nice to be able to close the circle by sponsoring them.

In 2024, we’ll be looking to expand this, and so if you’re organizing a community or event that is broadly related to our mission of helping international software developers start or grow their career in Japan, please do get in touch. I’d really love to see how I could help, and the barrier for us to sponsor something is pretty low. For several of the organizations we sponsored this year, we were their first sponsor ever.

Closing thoughts

2023 was to be the year I expanded TokyoDev beyond myself. Looking back over all we’ve accomplished, I think I was successful at that goal. We’ve brought on new team members and contributors, partnered with and sponsored other organizations, and grown a community around the site. It feels like we’ve built a lot of momentum over the last year, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the next holds.

More about the author

Photo of Paul McMahon

Paul McMahon

Founder of TokyoDev

Paul is a Canadian software developer who has been living in Japan since 2006. Since 2011 he’s been helping other developers start and grow their careers in Japan through TokyoDev.

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