Moving Forward

I’m moving to San Francisco.
That probably bears some explanation. As I’m sure all of you know, I work for Six Apart, which is based in the Bay Area, and they’ve been asking me for some time to make the jump to the west coast. But I love New York City, as I may have mentioned before, so this was something that I’d been reluctant to do, and I thought it might be worthwhile to explain how and why my position changed.
I should mention, since I’m sure people will ask, that I do expect to return to New York City, both because it’s my home and because I have an obligation to the city I love. More on that in a few days. Today, I want to talk about what’s motivated the move.
The past week has been really busy. We announced a new product, clarified the announcement, solicited feedback and did all of those things while dealing with an overwhelming response from thousands of users around the world.
But for me personally, this week was pretty rough. The new licenses and prices for Movable Type have been one of my main projects for the past few weeks and months, though of course we all had a hand in reviewing them. And the botched communications about them is something I feel a lot of personal responsibility for. Making mistakes on an extremely public scale is never fun, and doing it in a community that we’ve helped give a voice to is even worse. As Clay pointed out, people have an emotional attachment to these tools. To use the requisite automotive analogy, if Six Apart were a shiny new car, I feel like I was the person who put the first dent in it, and then a couple thousand people stood around pointing and saying "It’s totalled!"
Inside Six Apart, though, I discovered a lot of very positive things. I found that not only do I have my dream job, I have a place where I can make, well, a pretty big mistake and the response is "This is something we can fix." or "What did you learn?". More importantly, I still work at a place that makes a difference. Though they might be saying "You messed up!", the reality is that thousands of people used tools we gave them and the TrackBack protocol that was invented by our co-founders to say how they felt. And we responded, much faster than I’ve ever seen any software company respond. I’m sure we’ll be responding more.
We also got a lot of stuff right. People have wanted to sell services and products like customization or installation or plugins around Movable Type for a long time, and now they can. Web hosts have wanted to be able to license Movable Type for their users, and now they can. Businesses and end users wanted a simple ticket system where they could submit help requests and get an answer, and now they can. Now the list of people and companies that can benefit from Movable Type doesn’t end with Six Apart.
But for me, what matters more is the parts internal to the company. The team members here are the best in the world at what they do, starting right from Ben and Mena themselves. I’m not the sort of person who’s prone to breaking down at his desk, but when I finally lost it at some point well past midnight on Friday night, it was Mena herself who was still there, still checking in to make sure we were all okay.
And the development and support teams who saw all their hard work and preparation for this version get overshadowed by the response to the licenses didn’t begrudge the business team for one minute. Our international offices chipped in, more than carrying their weight while we scrambled to recover. And our development community and a lot of long-time users were as supportive as they’ve been since the first day Movable Type launched, representing us better than we were even able to do ourselves, and explaining ideas or even, yes, buying licenses. It’s easy to find friends when you’re popular, but I found a company and community that stuck with me when things were confusing and screwed up.
So, I’m moving to San Francisco to be even more involved in Six Apart. We’re doing all this work with developers and partners because there’s still another 99.9% of people in the world who haven’t heard what weblogs can do for them. I want to be part of spreading that message, and we’re going to need help to do it. I’m also moving because I still honestly believe Six Apart makes the best weblog tools in the world, and we’re going to be the the company that brings weblogs to a broad audience. Best of all, I’m glad to have made the decision before all the events of the last week, since nothing confirms a hunch like having it thoroughly tested by circumstance.
I think weblogs have already changed the world a little bit, and that’s happened while we’re only just getting started. So, thanks to everybody who’s supported Six Apart and me, and thanks to everyone in Six Apart for being my motivation to make a public (re)commitment to the company. See you guys at the office.
(And any of you who want to join us in either California, Tokyo, or Paris, get in touch. It’s a great place to work.)