The story Teehan+Lax isn’t telling

I have long admired the work of Teehan+Lax. Every time they write a case study, I pore over their process, thinking, and execution. They’ve done some outstanding work, including being an early design partner for Medium.

In a few weeks we will be moving to the San Francisco Bay Area. This will mean saying goodbye to family, friends, Toronto, and Teehan+Lax.
There has been a lot of thought and consideration that went into this decision. Since this will be the last thing we make as part of Teehan+Lax, we thought it was only appropriate to try and tell the whole story…

What follows reads like one of the Teehan+Lax case studies I’ve learned to love. Then I read a footnote that referenced a portion of the post on deciding when to sell:

1 Although, we were ultimately not acquired by Facebook, this framework helped us, and key members of our company, make the decision to join Facebook.

That’s a heck of a footnote. So, this isn’t an acquisition, but an acquihire; I wonder if the whole team had the option to go?

Nope.

A couple minutes of searching Twitter and I find what I was looking for: evidence that about 40 people got laid off.

I know an acquihire where much of a team gets left out is nothing new. But it’s unexpected from this company.

Especially considering their supposed considerations:

Some questions we asked ourselves…
What will I be expected to do?
Will the immediate and long term of the job be interesting to me?
Do I like the people I will be working with?
Does the company’s vision interest me?
Does the company’s culture align with my values?
Does this opportunity set me up to do something interesting after? (i.e. will you develop a set of skills that benefit you long term)
Will I be successful here?
What would prevent me from being successful?

Which apparently included coworkers:

We also needed to ask these questions on behalf of our co-workers without them being involved in the process. This lead us to run through endless scenarios trying to balance the needs of those who would join us at Facebook and those who would not.

Except now that we know 40 people won’t be joining them, perhaps it wasn’t that simple.


These guys owned a company, and were seemingly at the top of the consulting world for many years. They can do what they want.

But to read that post, and then see that so many weren’t included (or, to be fair, may have chosen just not to go), I think it could’ve done with a lot more real talk and a lot less decoration.

They shut down their company to go to Facebook for (seemingly) pretty great money, for them. That’s fine, but I can’t say I’m not disappointed. If they couldn’t be satisfied after 12 years doing what they were doing, it gives a pretty sad representation of client work at its supposed best.

I’m not trying to judge them for their decision. I’ve never been in their shoes. I just wish they would tell the whole story, even the parts that hurt a little bit.

On the upside, Toronto (and distributed companies) have a great opportunity to hire some talented folks now.


PS: I’m the editor of Post Status, a news & information site for WordPress professionals. I cover stuff like this, and much more, over there; but it’s usually in regard to the WordPress realm. I figured I’d publish this on Medium, because I’ve always wanted to write something on Medium and I enjoy irony.

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