Goodbye, Atlanta

Those words are hard to write. I’ve loved ATL since my family and I moved here in 2014.

My wife and I decided to move to Atlanta after I’d spent a year flying back and forth from our home in Alabama to San Francisco for work. We knew that we needed to move to a city so I could work locally. We considered Atlanta, Austin and San Francisco. We ultimately chose Atlanta because it had tech design opportunities and was an easier transition than moving West.

Within three months, we had our second child, sold our home, changed jobs and moved to a small apartment in a new state. Everything changed and the adjustment was difficult for all of us. Moving our family was the hardest thing we’ve ever done.

However, Atlanta has been wonderful. We’ve been able to experience one of the best cities in the country. I’ve been able to work with incredible, smart, and talented people. I’ve become a much better designer, employee, teammate and person.

Why we’re leaving

Atlanta offers a tremendous amount opportunity for designers but not the opportunity I need to grow as a designer and achieve our family goals.

Over the past seven years of working with startups, I’ve been the only designer or I’ve been on very small design teams. I’ve never worked with a large design team. I’ve never worked with a large company. I’ve never tackled a problem with massive scale. These are the things I need to do in order to become a better designer, to hone my craft, to evolve.

Atlanta’s B2C(Business to Consumers) startup scene is coming up really fast thanks to some great companies and initiatives like Switchyards, but it’s still in its infancy. Large B2C companies with large design teams just aren’t here yet and probably won’t be for 3–5 years.

Today, the best place to find the company and design team I need is San Francisco. SF can be dirty, scary, and incredibly expensive. But it’s also beautiful, vibrant, fun, and bursting with opportunity. The design culture there is second to none. Its companies deeply understand the value of great design and invest in it heavily. Its design teams are experienced, talented, diverse, and strong. They move quickly and push our industry forward at breakneck speeds.

Where we’re going

In two weeks, I will be joining the design team at Uber as Product Designer. I’m incredibly excited. Uber is a juggernaut and its designers are some of the best in the world. I’m certain that I’m going to be pushed harder than I ever have before. I’m ready for it.

I decided to join Uber because I love the product and I believe in its mission to “make transportation as reliable as running water”. After starting two companies and working with many startups, I know how hard it is for a company to achieve traction so I really admire Uber’s massive success. The interview process was one of the best I’ve experienced. The team asked hard questions and listened deeply to my answers. It was obvious that they wanted to fill the role with someone they thought would genuinely help the team and Uber’s users.

To live, we chose Walnut Creek. It’s a beautiful city in East Bay with a small town vibe and great schools. My commute to work will be about an hour including a 45 min Bart ride that I’m actually looking forward to. I like the idea of having an hour to myself each morning to catch up on news, reading, email, etc.

Thank you, ATL

While we’re excited to start a new chapter in San Francisco, leaving Atlanta is hard. We’ll miss the skyline, the parks, the food, the Beltline, the wonderful school my Daughter was able to attend, and mostly, the awesome people who’ve been a part of our lives here.

Friends

Thank you for welcoming us to Atlanta and sharing your time with us. Thanks for listening and giving advice. We’ll miss you terribly.

Designers and teammates

Thank you for teaching me so much. Thanks for sharing your feedback and giving direction. Thank you for inspiring and pushing me to do better.

I want to give special thanks to the people who’ve made our adventure in Atlanta possible:

Michael Tavani, Founder of Switchyards

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to create the MWSA badge and help promote B2C in the Atlanta startup community. What you, Dave and SDC are creating is extraordinary.

Pete Bernardo, EVP, Product at 352 Inc.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to work with the best company I’ve ever worked with. Thank you for being an exceptional leader and a vital part of my story.

Colin Breece and Robert Swarthout, Co-founders of ShootProof

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to work on a product that improves peoples lives. My time at SP was invaluable. Without it and your leadership, I wouldn’t be the designer and employee that I am today.

Dr. Paul Judge and Mike Van Bruinisse, Co-founders of Luma

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to work with unbelievably smart and talented engineers at the most exciting startup I’ve ever been a part of.

-Dustin