A New Professional Chapter

I’ve written about job changes in my blog before (here, here, and here), and it’s starting to feel like that’s the main thing I write about here. So, here goes.

This is my last week at my current company, a scrappy little startup called TidalScale. I’m starting a new job next week at a somewhat more established company you may have heard of, Salesforce.

I wanted to share some thoughts about the journey that led me to Salesforce

In early 2014, I’d taken some time off after leaving Twilio. The time off was absolutely needed, giving me a chance to recharge my batteries, and get my head straight about some things for my career and my life. While I was looking around for my next opportunity, my father said to me, “Until you find something full-time, why don’t you come by TidalScale and lend us a hand in setting up certain parts of the business? We’re about to go to market, and could use some help in getting ready.”

One thing led to another, and TidalScale wound up being that full-time gig. As it turned out, we weren’t quite ready to go to market at that point, and we spent two more years building more product, getting better performance out of our technology, and learning what the market really was. Along the way, I had a chance to jump into several different projects, giving me some new skills to add to my toolbox. I rebuilt our company website (twice); I negotiated a data center contract and purchased servers. Most significantly, I built out our product’s administration tools, learning how to program in Python as I went, and generally being a contributing member of an agile engineering team.

But, really, the reason I joined TidalScale in the first place was the opportunity to work with my father, for what will presumably be his last gig in the industry before he (someday) retires. It’s not every person in my line of work who gets to work with a family member. I’ve been fortunate to not only see my dad so much over the past couple of years, but learn from him, observe how he builds his company, how he interacts with employees, investors, and customers, etc. Along the way I think I’ve even taught him a thing or two.

While I’m impressed with what we’ve built at TidalScale, the technology (a distributed hypervisor) and the target market (Big Data, in-memory analytics, etc) are not areas that have ever really jibed with me. I’m more interested in the applications that business people and developers use directly, not the underlying platform that systems administrators use to enable the business people and developers. I prefer to operate at a different software layer than the layer where TidalScale specializes.

So I was open to making a move to something that was more up my alley. But for me to make that move, there had to be something really compelling for me to leave a company where I get to work with my father. Opportunities that were coming my way were good opportunities, but they tended to be similar to what I did at my previous two stops, at SugarCRM and Twilio — build and/or lead a customer support team. I have a track record of doing that, but it would be more of the same, just somewhere else.

And then I got a call from a former co-worker about joining his team at Salesforce

When I look back over my 19 years in the technology industry, I think I’ve learned certain skills at each stop along the way:

  • At Netscape/iPlanet/AOL, I learned the raw basics of Internet technology, how to work with customers, how to deal with change, and simply how to be a professional after college.
  • At Sun, I learned when to cut bait on a bad fit; that gig didn’t last very long.
  • At SugarCRM, I learned how to build a team, how to be a part of a growing company, how to do more with less, how to present to audiences, how to sell, how to market, and how to take charge of my own career.
  • At Twilio, I learned how to take all those things I learned at SugarCRM and turbo-charge them — build a team even faster, operate at an even bigger scale, ask “why?” questions and, even better, be able to answer those questions.
  • At TidalScale, I learned how to contribute in ways that didn’t really overlap with my job description, how to code for a new product, how to do agile planning and be part of an engineering team.

Now, I’m getting a chance to pull all of that together into my new role at Salesforce. I’ll be a Director in Customer Centric Engineering, which is described as “a high impact global engineering team that delivers Customer Love by solving the toughest technical customer escalations fast and champions trust strategy throughout the company.” This is a job that’s going to challenge me in ways I’ve handled before, as well as all sorts of new ways.

For the past 4 years, while my wife has worked for Salesforce, I’ve observed how their employees work, and I’ve been constantly impressed with what I see. People at Salesforce LOVE their jobs (#dreamjob), they LOVE working with their customers, and they LOVE giving back to their communities. I can’t wait to be a part of that.

Oh, and I am fortunate once again to work with a family member. April and I will both be part of the Salesforce Tech & Product part of the company, but there isn’t likely to be any overlap in our roles. We’re not even working in the same building, at least for the time being. We will be able to commute to San Francisco together, though, so that’ll be fun🙂

I’m thankful for the last two years at TidalScale, and all the years at other companies, that have helped me get to this spot in my career. It’s gonna be a wild ride!

My Super Bowl XLVIII Pick

The countdown to the big game is on, pre-game coverage started hours ago. Time for me to make my Super Bowl pick.

Last year, I announced my picks ahead of the game on Facebook:

As you can see, I nailed it — the winning team and the exact score for both participants. Not only did this earn me the respect and admiration of, like, fourteen people on Facebook, but I had also made that prediction with a now-defunct local restaurant. On the basis of that prediction, April and I ate for free several times before we moved away from Los Gatos.

This year, I don’t have any money on the game, no bets placed anywhere (at least at the time of this writing). However, that doesn’t mean I can’t make a bold prediction:

Seattle 20, Denver 17

Triple Voodoo


This is why my apartment smells like yeast.  Coming soon to my building, Triple Voodoo Brewery and Tap Room.

The New Kid On My Block

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard of BeatsMusic by now. I’ve been playing around with it on and off for the past week — username @jnassi on BeatsMusic — and I find it having enough promise to keep using it. You can read lots and lots of reviews elsewhere about the service and the mobile app.  I haven’t spent enough hands-on time with BeatsMusic yet to give it a full review, but it did deliver a result like this:


I got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell!

Where am I going with this, though?

BeatsMusic headquarters is my neighbor. I can step out of my front door and see the employees hard at work. I stood behind them in line at the local coffee shop after they pulled all-nighters leading up to the launch. I cleaned up my dogs’ poop from their parking lot.

So I wish them luck. It’s the neighborly thing to do.


The view from my front door.

To Alex And Katie

On Saturday, my youngest brother got married, and I had the privilege of serving as co-Best Man (with our other brother Mark). As such, I had the opportunity to do a speech that seemed to go over pretty well. I thought I’d share a portion of it, snipping out the things that are really specific to my brother Alex and his new wife, Katie.

One common trait that all three of us share, we’re all optimists and quite imaginative. Alex, Mark and I are always seeing the possibilities in life, and plotting out the course on how to get there. We get excited about the future, picturing all the little details about how great it’s going to be. Of course, real life never conforms to plan. Our paths twist and turn in ways we never imagined, leading us to a different place.

[Edit: Some ‘what if?’ questions about how Alex wound up getting to meet Katie.]

His path wouldn’t have lead him to Katie. Inevitably, the future doesn’t turn out EXACTLY like we expected. But for the Nassi boys — intelligent,  good-natured, and devastatingly handsome — the actual destination turns out even better than the one we originally envisioned.

Alex, Katie, I see you two fitting together like puzzle pieces. There’s no one else that fits with either of you like you fit with each other, and once you snapped into place, there was no separating you.

You two are a team, now and forever. You stand united against the world. No one has your back like you have each others’ back. Make your decisions together, asking “What’s best for us?” instead of “What’s best for me?”

Alex, as your big brother, it’s my responsibility to share knowledge and experiences with you, to pass on to you what I’ve learned. I’ve been married now for almost 2 years, so I’m an expert on making a marriage work. Just ask April. Who totally gets credit for teaching ME most of the rest of this stuff.

There’s an old quote that’s been paraphrased to, “Talking about love is like dancing about architecture.” It’s not the right medium, the right language to describe what you think, what you feel.

After you’ve gotten the first one out of the way, it’s easy to say “I love you”.  Once you say it that first time, it rolls easily off the tongue. It’s almost TOO easy to say it. When it’s that easy to say, your partner has to BELIEVE it every time you say it. So saying it isn’t enough, it’s not nearly enough. It’s not a fact you read in a book once, long ago. You have to LIVE IT every single day. You have to PROVE it.

Love is not a finite resource. It’s not a fossil fuel, it’s not time. There’s no reason you should run out of it. You have an infinite supply of love to share. But love is not only a noun; it’s also a verb, an action. “To love”. If you think of love as a verb, then love as a noun, love as a resource, can be replenished every day.

You can’t express your love the same way, over and over. Challenge yourself to find new ways to express your love for each other. Keep your partner on their toes. Try new things. Diversify. Variety is the spice of life. Routine is a four-letter word when it comes to love.

Store away the things that work, the tried and true, and break them out when they’re least expected. The sweet nothings that only you find cute, the jokes where only the two of you get the punchline.

Alex and Katie, you guys have figured a lot of this out already. That’s why we’re all here today, celebrating your marriage and the love you have for each other.

Now I’ll stop talking about love, and I promise not to dance about architecture. Let’s all raise our glasses in honor of Alex and Katie’s love, and let them hear how much we all love them by saying, “Mazel tov!”


Photo courtesy of April Nassi

I’m A Free Agent

Remember how one of my New Year’s resolutions was to blog once per day? Yeah, me too. That worked for eight whole days.

So what have I been up to since then that’s keeping me from writing? Lots of things, but there’s one that really takes precedence over the others:

I quit my job.

I left my role at Twilio a week and a half ago. It was a decision that I reached with a huge mix of emotions, after long consideration. I felt overwhelmingly that I needed a break from work, some serious downtime to reset myself. I’m taking a couple of months off, a bit of a sabbatical, before diving into anything else. I haven’t decided what my next move is going to be, which is something that I’ll be exploring during my time off.

I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity I had to work at Twilio, to collaborate with such brilliant, creative, dedicated individuals. I’m extremely proud of the work that we did as a company, and what I was able to accomplish in my two and a half years there.

I can’t wait to see what comes next for them, because I know all of the people there are going to keep kicking all kinds of ass. The best is yet to come for Twilio. I wish them all the success in the world.

Stay tuned to this space for what comes next for me!


Crazy Muni Guy

Hey, crazy guy on my MUNI train this morning… I have enough conversations going on inside my head without needing to listen to the conversations going on in YOUR head, too.

Of course, now I feel bad about saying something about a person who is dealing with some issues, so I had to make a donation to the Mental Health Association of San Francisco.