Figured my birthday was a good day to talk about this in a public forum. Back in October I resigned my post as CTO at CrowdSavings.com in one of the most outlandish [even for me] exits I’ve been privy to.
This actually all started April of 2011 when I was on a family vacation to St. Augustine. This was the first vacation I had taken since starting with the company in 2009. On said vacation, the CEO decided that it was just a perfect time to attempting to make a change to the daily spam email that resulting in something breaking and me getting a call. This was already after I had been called and asked to upload some image assets to the server so that they could run a giveaway contest (I promptly built an image uploader upon my return). I was told that I had to get the email working before the next day’s spam blast and was told this after I had already began the day’s drinking and relaxing. Luckily my wife woke me up at 3:30am so that I could spend some quality time working while on vacation. I was only out of town for 4 days and was the only technical resource, these things could have waited and no one needed to touch anything. Needless to say, I stewed about this until our next family vacation in October 2012.
Fast forward to just prior to our cruise in October. We had hired a second developer that simply couldn’t cut it and quit after a few weeks. I had suggested that perhaps we could get a buddy of mine to be on call for the week that I’d be out just in case. The idea was shot down and I left it at that (I’ll get into the CEO-monarchy of startups in another post). Oh, I forgot to mention, I did make mention that if I were to get called oh my vacation a second year in a row, I would be quitting. That was met with a very compassionate “well you know we get one call at least”. #smh
Day two of our cruise, I’m reading “Life of Pi” and enjoying the weather when I decide to try out the ship’s WiFi and check my email. Sure enough, there were frantic emails from the office. Evidently “Superstorm” Sandy had knocked our Email Service Provider offline (always the fucking email!) and caused some issues with our site (save yourself the trouble, I’m aware that it was code I wrote that faltered when the API went down). Like a jerk, I dismissed it and figured it would work itself out.
Later that day while we were waiting for the restaurant to open for our dinner service, we got a call on our Wave phone. The call was from the operator that had a ship to shore call for us. My wife answered it and on the other end I could hear “It’s Chad, Josh’s boss”. I grabbed the phone and hung up and got to experience what I would describe as a panic attack. I picked at dinner and before the dessert round decided to run back to the room and kick off my resignation letter so I could enjoy the rest of my vacation. The letter in it’s entirety:
Quite unfortunate the destruction the super storm of 2012 has caused, but as I received a text and emails and (what I’d like to refer to as the straw that broke the camel’s back) a phone call from the mainland while attempting to enjoy dinner I’m reminded of a quote. The quote comes from Chad Jaquays I believe in 2010 just after the 1 year anniversary champagne toast.
“The one thing I’ve learned is that everyone’s replaceable”.
These words have stuck with me since then. I was reminded of how replaceable I am while on vacation in St. Augustine and against this year on a family cruise.
I wasn’t kidding about saying that I would be resigning my post if called during my vacation, and I’m sure you’re thinking I’m being a little baby about it, but quite frankly there was nothing I could do to help on vacation. I have very limited internet access and more so, no way to VPN in so that I could fix anything. Not to mention the fact that no one told me that the boat uses 220 plugs and not the US ones I’m used to.
Couple all of this with the fact that it seems the only business plan for the company these days is to get acquired, my time is done as I’m not interested in seeing this through an acquisition.
I’ve attached all of the server information I have available below and I will be in on Monday to collect the remainder of my personal belongings and unlock my computer for the next replaceable asset of the company.
I will remain available for as long as I need to be to aid in any knowledge transfer and/or issue resolving once back on land. I do expect my paycheck on the 1st of November, but something tells me I won’t be receiving it. If that’s the case, I won’t be available whatsoever.
There’s some shit you just don’t go saying to your employees, especially at a startup, especially to your first couple of full-time employee and that’s that they are replaceable. You probably caught the part about trying to sell the company, that had been going on for a while after a series of acquisitions that blew through our latest round of funding in what seemed like a couple of months. I already knew I wouldn’t be staying on through an acquisition primarily because the acquisitions in the low end of the daily deal space are simply for email addresses of buyers, rarely acqui-hires. I had gotten the opportunity to see what happens to companies when we acquired them, and it wasn’t something I was willing to subject myself to it.
Okay, so at this point I had quit, enjoyed the rest of my vacation and more importantly, cooled off a bit (but not enough to rethink my decision). As I mentioned in my email, I made it in on Monday collected my personal effects and all that. I had sat and talked with the CFO of the company for quite a bit and explained my stance and that after that panic attack and/or mild heart attack it was time for me to move on. I had been with the company since 2009, been through every high and low and it had taken it’s toll. It was established that I would not say anything to anyone about quitting and that they would make a formal announcement. To the best of my knowledge, no formal announcement was ever made (I assume because it would have scared the shit out of some employees that employee #1 just up and quit like that).
By the end of my conversation with the CFO, the CEO rolled in and was quite combative about the whole situation. Rightfully so, I’m aware of my dick move here, but I did offer to stick around to help new resources (and I did, no wage, I really wanted to make sure it went well). I won’t go into too much detail about it other than I was told that holding a grudge is what a girl would do. We grabbed beers afterwards at least (this girl can drink! ;).
A few weeks after all of this I was pretty much 100% out of the loop, kicked off the GitHub organization and officially a free man. I’ll admit it was quite possibly the most unprofessional thing I’ve ever done (and if I had to guess, will ever do again), but I’m not ashamed of my actions either. If I didn’t do this in October, I probably would have earlier this month when the acquisition finally went through (especially if I had seen this). I’m very thankful for the opportunity that I was given at CrowdSavings but more thankful that I was able to quit to do my own thing. In the last 4 months I’ve been able to focus on my own projects, catch up on some sleep and have even lost nearly 2 stone! I can’t fucking wait for our family vacation this year :)