Back in October 2007, I left aFreewebs.com, a startup that later sold for $117 Million to VistaPrint.com, to work on my startup which is now called SortIQ. Along the way I evolved my blog, JobMatchbox, into SocialMatchbox and weathered a nasty recession during the first twelve months of hitting the ground running. Along the way Juliana and I co-founded a consulting practice that became the foundation for our advising and consulting relationship with many of the Washington, DC tech community’s most successful B2B and B2C startups. We hosted the largest software product launch event on the East Coast, brought Facebook Developer Garage to DC, and backed or co-organized nearly every key DC tech event until Juliana went back to school to get her J.D. which lead us to Baltimore for four years. We moved back to DC a year ago this month and have been working on building up her law practice, raising our first child (a baby girl), and in that same time I decided that it was time to shift gears. Shifting gears for me meant choosing a new direction after being a founder and advisor. It also meant getting back to my roots. Having spent a substantial amount of my time working on building software products and advising teams doing as much, I was already spending a lot more time writing code and managing technology (as well as development). So as I started considering what I was going to do next, I had a few interesting conversations about where things were headed that lead me to a new chapter.
That new chapter happens to be working as a Technology Evangelist and acting in a capacity equivalent to that of an entrepreneur in residence for an award winning organization Vizuri here in the DC area. Vizuri is a open source team within a larger well established company that seeks to envision and build innovative open source platform as a service (PaaS) products and solutions.
I first met the Vizuri team back in 2008 and had some really great conversations with them about the cloud. They were a low key organization in the DC Tech community because they were working on some very big projects. The company partners with Amazon, Docker, Red Hat, MongoDB as well as many other industry influencers and leaders. While it isn’t a B2B or B2C software startup like the ones that I have worked on or with for the most part in recent years, the challenges and opportunities are quite similar. I really like the team and the projects they are working on including Red Hat’s OpenShift, an open source PaaS (platform as a service) product.
Having utilized the Amazon Web Services stack, SliceHost, and the RackSpace cloud platforms for my startup ventures and as part of numerous startup advisory and consulting engagements I have spent an increasing amount of time working with open source and proprietary cloud platforms which are the life blood involved in building and scaling a software engineering effort.
Along the way to making this decision, I passed up the chance to be the COO of a very early stage startup that raised some seed funding, passed on the chance to work for a couple of rising YCombinator startups in San Francisco, passed up the chance to be the Head of Product (and essentially the GM) of a very well funded startup in San Francisco lead by a team that had a tremendous exit in the 1990’s, and had a few close encounters as a head of engineering/development manager or product manager with Apple in bay area and a number of other companies including a startup here in the DC area.
The decision boiled down to the fact that Juliana and I really want to stay here in the Washington, DC area because her law firm is taking off and despite a lot of really amazing friendships in the Bay Area elsewhere, we have some truly amazing friendships here that we want to keep. On top of that, this new role with Vizuri is the best combination of what I actually enjoy doing.
“What about your blog Bob?”
This new chapter will ultimately mean that what I am up to will evolve. People have already started to ask me about this. The truth is that I don’t know exactly what this will lead to. I am becoming more technical every day, yet this role will mean that my product management experience will also be utilized. I will continue to work with B2B and B2C companies so no change there either. So I will continue blogging about technology, software development, product management and entrepreneurship.
“What about your entrepreneur office hours and events?”
That is a harder question to answer right now. If you would like some help or have a question feel free to reach out. As I ramp up with my new role I may not have as much available time in the short term so it may take a little longer for me to respond. There will probably not be any events for a while, but that is still an open question. I have been working on getting the growth engineers group going here in DC and that will likely still happen. We have space commitments in Bethesda an in Northern Virginia. I suspect that I may be working up some new event(s) in the near future so check back for details.
Stay tuned and stay in touch. This is shaping up to be a very interesting and exciting year.