It's been almost six years now since I started working on what became the company I sold to the company we started talking to two years ago because of the product we launched five years ago.
Six years is a long time. Or a little. Depending.
For me, it's a little under 20% of this life on Earth. And it's the time when I find myself thinking a lot about a particular question: What should I do next?
I'm not sure what the answer to that question is, but I've decided it's something different than I do now. And I need some perspective to answer it. So, I've to move on. I.e.: As of this Friday, I will no longer be employed by Google.
Yes, I'm leaving my baby (or is it an adolescent by now?), in the hands of an awesome team we've compiled over the last few years. And I'm taking some time off to think. And...who knows?
Gosh, what else to say about that?
Necessarily, I must express that it's been an amazing, thrilling, life-changing, difficult, rewarding, surprising, and lucky ride I've been on. And "life-changing" is such an understatement. As I said on Blogger's fifth birthday, for doing the "same thing" for five years, it's amazing how drastically my life has changed. Not just my life, but me. I'm just a simple farm boy from Nebraska, after all.
As I prepare to take off my "head Blogger guy" hat, which seems permanently sealed to my scalp by now, I need to give a huge thanks to the people who've made the last few years what they were. I'd name names, but I'd never get to the end of the list, so, in general categories: The original Pyra team, the current Blogger team, and those who helped me out in-between, my investors and advisors (formal an in-), all the awesome Blogger users and supporters, the whole blogging community -- developers, competitors, and drivers of the vision -- and, of course, the great folks at Google. Not to mention my friends and family who witnessed and helped many a stressed-out Ev (see picture).
Since I've already told a few people this in person and know what the most common questions are, I'll answer them here:
What are you going to do?
A few months ago, I started getting the itch to start another company. There is so much momentum and opportunity on the web right now (he says, as if there hasn't been for the last 10 years). And, naturally, I have the "If I knew then, what I know now" feeling that makes starting again an exciting -- if daunting -- prospect. That's what got me thinking seriously about leaving. And then my therapist pointed out that, ya know, this Internet/startup thing been my life for, literally, a decade now...and perhaps, just maybe, I might pay attention to other parts of life for a while first.
That, sadly, was an epiphany (a happy one). And when I took a week off a few months ago just hanging out reading books and walking around and not thinking about Blogger for a while (I accidentally hurt my mom's feelings by telling her I couldn't talk about work when she called me) -- i.e., dipped my toe in The World Beyond -- well, it was kinda neat.
So, while I think I'm likely to start another company sometime, I'm forcing myself to be non-committal at the moment. My goal is to develop some perspective, learn new things, rest, and explore (which, of course, will make me more certain that it will be the right thing if/when I do get around to starting something else). Not that I won't be doing things -- I expect to do some "projects." I don't plan to disappear from the web or Internet or blogging (although, I'm not committing to anything, mind you). I still think it's an incredibly exciting time, and we've only scratched the surface. (Duh.)
Are you going to travel?
People always want to know about the travel plans. Travel's good. I'm into it. Haven't ever done much. May 2001 was the first time I left the US. (I was 29.) I need to do more. And I'm going to do a thing at Oxford next month. But no other big trips planned yet. It's on the radar, though, definitely.
Where are you going to be?
San Francisco, mostly. I don't plan to move. I do plan to not drive 101 so much. :)
Are you pissed at Google and/or are they removing you?
People often want to imagine a conflict. And, I guess if you consider how often acquisitions go horribly, it's not entirely unreasonable to assume. Unfortunately -- I mean fortunately -- I can't help fuel any "Google acquires company, kicks out founder" headlines. Google management pretty much let my team and I retain control of Blogger since we got there. For better or for worse, they trusted that we knew what we were doing and attempted to support it without screwing it up. There are always new issues to deal with when you trade your old ones in. But, all in all, they've been awesome. And leaving was entirely my decision. They even offered that I could start something else within the company, if I wanted.
The reason I'm leaving probably comes down to personality more than anything. I've just always been stubbornly independent-minded -- even when it wasn't necessarily in my best interest. I hated school. I dropped out of college (never believing I needed a degree because I wasn't going to work for anyone anyway). I started two or three companies (depending on what you call a "company") before starting Pyra. (Let's just call them "great learning experiences.") I only ever had one real job, and it lasted just a few months, though it was at another cool company (O'Reilly).
When I started at Google, I knew I was giving up my independence and knew I probably wouldn't like that eventually. So I promised myself I'd stay at least a year. I stayed for a year and eight months and have had a fun, fascinating, and extremely educational time. I'm honored to have been a part of Google for such a historic period.
If I was going to work for anyone, I'd work for Google. It's, basically, just not in my nature.
What's going to happen to Blogger?
Blogger is in excellent hands. I wouldn't feel comfortable leaving at all if I didn't believe that. And I'm, truly, more optimistic about Blogger's future than ever. Truth is, I've been obsoleting myself for years. :)
I've been working with the team on a strategy for the future that I believe is going to kick ass. And I'm going to be informally advising, on an as-needed basis (mostly, probably, to ease my anxiety rather than any needs they'll have -- plus, of course, so I have an excuse to have a Google lunch now and then).
I've always dreamed of creating something that lived on, while letting me go create something new, creating things having always been my passion. During the bad times, though I considered it, I couldn't leave because Blogger wouldn't live on. During the good, I just wasn't ready. Now, I'm ready. And, while it's not easy, it's incredibly fulfilling.
Watch this space for updates. I'm actually looking forward to blogging a bit. Ya know, cuz I'll have the time. Then again, I'm not committing.