A little over the last two years of my live has been devoted to building, funding, and growing SimpleGeo. The experience was, without a doubt, life changing in many ways. It was a crash course in a bunch of disciplines that I knew little to nothing about. Managing clients, iterating on your product, sales, business development, raising money from investors, etc. were all wide open holes in need to my attention and input. It goes without saying that this was not an easy endeavor.
Along with being constantly challenged and learning new things, I was fortunate enough to work with some of the brightest engineers in Silicon Valley. While at SimpleGeo I saw them build a patent-pending distributed graph database built on top of theory that had not been implemented yet in the real world. At scale no less. The operations team built an infrastructure that was scarily automated and resistant to failure. So much so that the SimpleGeo engineers get regular calls to talk about how we did it all on top of AWS.
On October 31st, we announced that we’d been acquired by Urban Airship. I’m extremely excited to see what the combined teams cook up in the coming months. Having locationally aware push notifications is going to allow businesses to engage with their customers in ways they’ve never dreamed. Additionally, I know SimpleGeo’s world class engineering team will be able to help the new company build features at scale that the competition won’t be able to match. The best is truly yet to come from this company and I’m sure Scott Kveton will be a great shepherd moving forward.
As for me, I’ve decided to move on post-acquisition. I need to step away from the echo chamber and spend time focusing on what is important to me in general; not just professionally. To that end, my lovely lady and I have bought an RV and plan on touring around the Southwest this winter. I’d like to visit as many incubators and coworking places as possible. So if you’re in the Southwest and want me to swing by and say hello, please drop me a line on Twitter or via email.
Onward and upwards.
- The end of 2008 marks the end of my first year as Digg’s Lead Architect. In that time we’ve rewritten the majority of the site using frameworks that I built. We’re currently rewriting the underlying data access layer to be horizontally partitioned, elastic, services oriented and multi-homed.
- In early January, Digg Images launched and, with it, the result of months of work resulting in a completely rewritten submission framework for Digg. This project resulted in me writing and releasing Net_Gearman. I consider this project to be some of my best work at Digg.
- In early January I snuck off to Vail for one last snowboarding trip before back surgery. It was on this trip that I finally became comfortable with Western black diamonds, including an awkward drop off of an 8+ foot precipice into 3+ feet of fluffy powder.
- On January 23rd, 2008 I went in for back surgery. Two hours after surgery I was up and walking around without a hint of sciatica or back pain. I can’t thank Dr. Fred Naraghi enough for what I view as a second chance at life.
- 2008 will be known as the Year of the Conferences for me. I spoke at Future of Web Apps in Miami, on a panel at SXSW on scaling websites, MySQL Conference on Services Oriented Architecture, Web 2.0 Expo in New York City, Future of Web Apps in London with Blaine Cook, Future of Web Design on the friction between developers and designers, and Q-Con in San Francisco on Digg’s architecture.
- The summer brought another bout of triathlon training. Along with my friend Mark Lewandowski, I trained for my first Olympic distance triathlon, which I ended up finishing in 2 hours, 50 minutes and change. As part of our training Mark and I also did a 72 mile bike race around Lake Tahoe. The race included 3,900 feet of vertical gain over 72 miles and is, without a doubt, the most challenging endurance race of my life. I finished the race in 4 hours, 15 minutes and change.
- In June I was elected to the PEAR Group, which is the governing board of my favorite PHP project.
- In early September I launched PleaseDressMe with my friends AJ and Gary Vaynerchuk. The site continues to gain traction in the tshirt arena and is, to date, my most successful side project.
- In October Aubrey, Kevin and I went on a whirlwind tour of Europe that included Oktoberfest in Munich, London, and Amsterdam.
- November brought big news at Digg with the hire of my friend and release manager for PHP6, Andrei Zmievski, as Digg’s first Open Source Fellow.
- November also brought about me finally diving into Python and Django for a side project. I’ve built an API for iPhone games that my friend Garren and I plan on releasing soon. More on this to come.
- December brought another trip to Thailand with my good friend Chris Lea. We’d originally planned to do Thailand, Cambodia and either Laos or Vietnam, however the islands of Koh Phangan and Koh Samui had other ideas. I type this sitting on Haad Lamai on Koh Samui. So far it’s been an epic trip with highlights including New Year’s Eve on Haad Rin Nok and a trip back to Haad Rin Nok tomorrow for another Full Moon Party.
This year I’m going to follow the year in cities theme that so many other blogs follow because I feel I really have done a ridiculous amount of travel this year.
- San Francisco, CA
- Miami, FL
- Austin, TX
- San Diego, CA
- Seattle, WA
- Vail, CO
- East Jordan, MI
- New York, NY
- Munich, Germany
- London, United Kingdom
- Amsterdam, Netherlands
- Los Angeles, CA
- Bangkok, Thailand
- Haad Leela, Koh Phangan, Thailand
- Haad Lamai, Koh Samui, Thailand
I’m going to start a new theme here today. Below is my year in open source software. This is a list of projects I’ve released publicly and/or have contributed to. I’m not sure how many lines of code this is, but this is, by far, my most prolific year in FOSS contributions.
It’s official. As of today I’m employee #20 at Digg. I sent in my resume in September fully expecting not to hear back, but over the course of the last few months it became apparent I was being considered for a position. I didn’t think much of it after not hearing from them for almost a month, but Brian Link sent me an email around the first of the year which turned out to be an official offer.
For those of you that don’t know, Digg is the 19th most visited site on the internet in the United States. It serves up more traffic than Wal-Mart, the New York Times or Best Buy. So, as you can imagine, I’m pretty excited about this opportunity. I’ll be arriving in San Francisco somewhere towards the beginning of February. If you’re in the area and would like to get pints please let me know.
Taking the job means that I won’t be doing any contract work and my open source projects will most likely sit idle for the time being. If you’re interested in maintaining Framework or any of my PEAR packages please let me know.
I’ve been thinking about the Internet and, especially, craigslist lately. Since moving out to Seattle I’ve relied heavily on both to form new friendships and find new things to do. This is a brief list of how the internet has affected my life recently.
- The whole reason I moved to Seattle was because I met Brad, the proprietor of eNotes.com, LLC found me via an article I wrote.
- My closest friends in Seattle are Garren, John and Andrew were all met in one way or another through craigslist.
- I’ve disc golfed, snowboarded, ran, walked, talked and drank with numerous people I’ve met from craigslist.
- I’ve gone on a few dates from craigslist. I won’t bore you with the details, but let’s just say dating in Seattle sucks.
- I’m going to Sasquatch with a girl who just moved here from Florida and was looking for a ride.
It’s really staggering now that I think about it. There isn’t a single person that I can think of that I interact with daily here in Seattle that I didn’t meet online somehow.
As I pointed out in a previous post, my birthday was on March 15th. I turned the ripe old age of 26 and had a good time doing so. At any rate, a few days ago I check my mail and find a birthday card which was postmarked from Columbus, OH. All it says is “Happy 26th! Jason”. I know three Jasons and none of them would be likely to send me a birthday card and I know for a fact that two of them don’t live anywhere near Columbus, OH. The only thing I can think is that someone who visits this site sent it to me.
If that’s the case then please send me an email to so I can thank you for the card.
That’s when it’s all over and Lauren and I will officially be no more in the eyes of the law. It’s at this point I’d like to lament the divorce laws of Washington for making a couple of young kids wait months before finalizing everything. Seriously, it’s just stupid.
The next day, March 15th, is my birthday. I’ll be turning the ripe old age of 26. 30 is right around the corner. A few days later I’ll be at a local Irish pub enjoying green beer in celebration of the fact that I was not named Patrick as my parents had planned if I had been born on March 17th.
Other than the upcoming busy week things are going fairly well. I have lots of work sitting in front of me, we move facilities and started upgrading some of our equipment and I’m kicking myself for not hitting 24 inches of fresh powder with Garren at Stephen’s Pass yesterday. Oh well, at least it’s sunny out today.
On Friday I ventured down to Key Arena with Lauren. The deal was that if she couldn’t find someone to go to the game with then we’d go together. As luck would have it my boss was there with a friend as well sitting in the first row with four empty seats next to him. I think everyone knows where this is going. Lauren and I were able to make our down to the first row at center court. In the picture above you’ll see Chauncey Billups and Rasheed Wallace each sitting about 8 feet away from us and the guy in the white shirt is Bill Laimbeer.
Josh, this is the point where you ball up in the fetal position as the only response to your overwhelming sense of jealousy and rage at the fact you weren’t there with me drinking a beer and sitting in the awe that is Hamilton hitting a buzzer beater with 0.2 seconds left on the clock.