I quit my job yesterday. After nearly six years of doing web development at a marketing company I decided to take the leap into something I've become really excited about.
The day I gave notice coincided with the company's monthly all-staff meeting. As usual there were lots of jokes, cheering, silliness (I won a Belding-like award for setting up Bugzilla for a company project--it was an aluminum foil bowl filled with candy), there was a show-and-tell of some great print work we did for Newegg, a Yahoo Games E3 video they shot in our office which was a riot, more silliness, clapping, the announcement of the new hires with photos so we could keep track of all the new faces in our 100+ person office...
It was hardly the company I joined six years ago. Back then the 15 of us could comfortably fit around a medium sized desk and we were far too small a group to clap at anything. In December 1999 I was coming off a year of running a company with a friend and discovering that I wasn't cut out for the business side of things. I hated dealing with clients and found that most of my time was spent trying to get paid or trying to snag new business so in five months I could be calling them trying to get paid. So I came in from the cold and joined Ignited Minds--previously the very small marketing arm of Activision (where I had worked a couple years before) that had left, silly flaming logo in hand, to "market to people who played".
Of course then the bubble went "pop" and our little company just dropped a gear and kept going, doing anything and everything for clients to get the job done. I made Flash banners with little racing games inside them when we didn't have an actionscripter. I learned how to manage Linux boxes, MySQL servers, Apache servers, PHP, Perl, Python, ASP, I wrote COM objects that accepted file uploads (which through late-night testing lead to the creation of FilePile). We strung together content management systems and built all sorts of tracking devices and log analyzation tools that ran on machines that would reboot themselves if you looked at them funny. Looking back it was all a little punk rock.
Skip ahead a few years and I find myself the Director of Interactive Technology (Jeez, the more middle the manager the more flowery the title, I guess) at a very robust company in a nicer economic climate. I have a small team of developers who are some of the smartest most pro-active guys on the planet. My job is mainly taking as much credit for their hard work as I possibly can (har har, kidding). But really, I was just settling into the new job when I got a very interesting email from John Battelle about a project he was thinking about doing.
I had added the news feed for FMPub after seeing it mentioned on someone's site a few days before his email. I vaguely remember him saying it was going to be a transparent attempt at blogging about his new startup and I thought that it was probably going to be something worth reading so I added it.
Our first conversation happened while I was about to go to Italy for two weeks, and so my brain was probably already out the door. I didn't put his new company weblog and the phone call together, so I didn't think much of it at the time. We talked for a bit, I went to Italy, came back, didn't hear from him for a while and figured that might be the end of it.
The next time we talked he gave me the full run-down and everything clicked. Looking back on what I've done, the Droploads, the Dropcashes, the tools I built for Ignited Minds, the playground I built for the people of FilePile, it's always been about making web technologies more accessible to people with needs. Dropcash is my favorite example of this, as it places some powerful functionality into the hands of non-technical people with a specific need to show the progress of a fundraiser--with just a few lines of code. Dropload is just the use of a simple PHP feature and some database calls, yet over 100,000 people have needed it and used it. I like making those connections for people who can't do it for themselves. It's why I love to program so much.
I quit my job on Monday because FMPub lets me make these connections on a larger scale. It makes connections between passionate people with needs for a support structure and people who need that authenticity for their marketing efforts. As someone who has been an honorary marketer for six years, I know how difficult it is to get a message in front of people. FMPub is going to offer a remarkable dialog between the two camps and I couldn't be happier to know I will be helping that dialog happen.