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!