The Road Ahead
There and Back Again
How I got here
A year and a half ago, I did something quite unexpected. Before that, I had been working for several startups in NYC, working in small multi-disciplinary teams that had just one ambition: getting something out there, and making sure it evolved into something customers appreciate.
But a year and a half ago, a friend asked if I could help him out and work with a large corporation on their Internet strategy. My first thought was to just not do it. And after having a conversation with them, my second thought also was to just not do it. But I did it anyway. That was unexpected.
And then I spend a year and a half increasingly wondering why. I think I may have the answer by now. But it certainly wasn’t the rational thing to do. It was a good wake-up call though, and it helped me to articulate what I consider to be vital for a future gig.
So, rather than explaining to every individual potential customer what it is that that I’m looking for, I figured I’d better turn it around and write it down. That way, you can check upfront if it makes sense to call me — which will save all of us some time. :-)
What it is I’m looking for
In prioritized order:
I prefer remote working opportunities. I did it for more than 7 years. I enjoy not having to get into a car and burning through fossil fuels, thank you very much. I’m perfectly happy working from home or from a co-working space and having most of my meetings online.
In the past, I did fly to Manhattan or California quite frequently. I don’t necessarily want to avoid it entirely, but if I can tune it down a little bit, that would be nice. Having the option to go by train: also fine. Berlin, fine.
If you’re working for a large corporation, that hardly makes sense. That is, I spend a lot of time in meetings, and if the ambition of my future is to have a lot of meetings, then — yes — working remotely is not the best option. Which is why I would happily pass the opportunity to work on a meetings-only type of gig. Working on-site is no guarantee for getting anything done.
As a consequence, I also need all the systems you depend upon to be available from anywhere on the globe. If it’s not accessible on the Internet, then I don’t care for it.
2. Small empowered team
As I said, I like to get stuff done. Once your team grows beyond a certain size, you need ways to reduce the overhead of keeping everybody on the same page. The larger your team grows, the less likely it will be they get something done. (Unless you find a way to partition your problem space into isolated chunks — which larger corporations seem to be unable to do.)
But I don’t just care for a small team. I also want to be part of a team that is empowered to get it done. No crazy corporate bullshit that prevents you from getting something out and in front of customers. And if you need something from the cloud, there has to be a credit card available to back the expense.
3. Sensible compensation
There is no sensible job title for what I do. In the past, I worked with a couple of other people who were all perfectly suited for having a CTO position. However, most CTOs are no longer able to code. We were and still are. We just do whatever is required to get it out and ensure growth, which includes everything from architecture to ideation to code to DevOps. I would say having a track record of getting things out the door counts, more than anything else.
I have done a ton of things in the past. A lot of it based on Java and the Java VM, including Scala, but I don’t consider that to be a sensible stack any longer if you’re building the type of solutions I feel like building. If your solution requires a front-end and if it lives on the Web, then more often than not, the only sensible solution is based on some Universal App framework. That reduces the options quickly to Node.js only.
If performance in the browser is a concern, then I’d be happy to do Rust, and I prefer ReasonML over TypeScript, still have soft spot for CoffeeScript and I am comfortable using Babel.
5. Lightweight deployment
I like Kubernetes, but — at the risk of sounding silly — I’m not convinced it’s the right tool in all circumstances. In fact, if you’re just launching, then I would hesitate to put in all of that effort, and I might go for something else instead, like Firebase or Heroku. Now, if your corporation is huge, then having Kubernetes is totally fine, but then again, I want to work in small teams and just get something out, so it’s just not my thing yet. (But if it is involved, you get bonus points for an Ambassador-based setup.)
6. Front-end and back-end and all -ends in between
Since I prefer to work on smaller teams that actually try to ship something for a sizable group of customers, it would typically involve both front- and back-end work. I’m totally happy with that. In fact, prefer it to be that way.
7. Historically creative
I enjoy working on things that have never been done before. If you want a commerce site implemented on top of SAP, then I pass. In general, I’m not overly enthusiastic about eCommerce (or SAP for that matter).
8. Vue / Svelte
I know React is getting all of the attention, and if my next gig involves ReasonML, then I’m more than happy to embrace React, but I do care about productivity, and I think Vue and Svelte allow you to be more productive.
Pretty sensible, right?
If you made it his far, and you think you have something I would consider interesting, don’t hesitate: send me a message or give me a call!