One month ago I stepped back from Flickr after 4+ intense, amazing years.
Since then, I had my first chance to cheer enthusiastically from the sidelines with the launch of the very long time coming new Photo page beta. I attended my first Velocity Conf, which rocked and saw two of my excellent once-and-future colleagues John Allspaw, and Paul Hammond speak. Had a chance to sit in on SimpleGeo’s hack week and watch their unique “committee-based programming” beat scalable, distributed, multi-dimensional indexing into Cassandra. Spent a day brainstorming with a wicked smart and diverse bunch of folks O’Reilly assembled to look at big data, ubicomp, “practical magic”, and post scarcity data analysis. Played an epic game of werewolf as both a werewolf and one of the lovers with the sadistic Bre Petis moderating (and also attended Foo).
Returned with Jasmine for the annual Edel’s pyromaniacs-New-Hampshire-style 4th of July, followed by 4 days floating in their pond, and a put a silly number of miles on our car exploring Maine, Nova Scotia, and in particular Lunenburg, the UNESCO World Heritage site where Jasmine’s grandfather was born and whose family were among the town founders in 1753.
And on Monday I’ll be joining Etsy as their VP of Engineering.
Etsy’s a fascinating company. 5 years old, the site went through a phase which can only be described as “done”, growing incrementally what had gone before. This is not Etsy today. Today Etsy is a vibrant hub of innovation, with a rapidly growing engineering team, a great experimentation based engineering culture, and a ship fast process. (see the recent posts on Code as Craft, the engineering blog). Most days the day with the highest traffic and sales numbers ever is yesterday.
It’s also part of a wider resurgence of looking local, and building strong communities, manifested online with such new projects as Kickstarter, and Neighborgoods, as well as offline in the strong DIY culture and locavore alternative and sustainability movements (especially here in Brooklyn!).
I think the culture is most perfectly summed up by the fact that when you join Etsy as an engineer you receive two books: Pragmatic Programmer: From Journeyman to Master and Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and Durable Future by Bill McKibben.
I’m excited about working on another site built, sustained and funded by a passionate community (not by selling users as grist to a third party), the ridiculously huge potential to build a platform for person to person, and community based commerce, the locally sourced company lunches, a kick-ass engineering team that is also expected to work on creative side projects (and silk screen their own shirts), visiting the San Francisco and Berlin offices, and supporting the continued transformation of Etsy’s technical infrastructure which is in the process of being completely re-thought, revamped, and reinvented.
I’m also taking suggestions for items to sell in my Etsy store.