In those same four years Facebook, Twitter and the likes of Quora have exploded, and made the Internet worse. Yet at the same time all the Stack Exchange properties resisted this trend. I'm very grateful for that too.
In addition, there is a whole family of sites on StackExchange, each with their own set of active users and people. To me, Quora just seems like a better version of Yahoo answers, while SO is what I want a successful Q&A community to be.
Anyone involved in Stack Overflow should rest assured that they made the world a better place for a lot of people.
It feels wonderful to take some information which it cost me days to find out and make it the first hit on Google, with the right answer clearly marked. Even when mailing lists are indexed on the web, they are never as easy to find and visually scan as a SO thread.
One interviewer went so far to say he didn't bother asking technical questions since he'd seen my answers on SO.
Obviously I wouldn't recommend that tactic, but it's nice to see my online rep actually translate to the real world like that from time to time.
I imagine a world, reminiscent of Ender's Game, where online discussion holds much sway and credence, and the separation between it and "the real world" exists only to differentiate physical properties.
It would seem that we are slowly approaching this more transparent mesh of societies.
If a person can empirically show their value and experience with a topic, as you did with your SO profile, it should hold the same regard as similar measures.
Such a talent would have its uses, but may not be as useful in certain situations as someone whose answers may be slightly less quality but composed without exterior information.
Outside the games industry, though, the usual response when a company grows, and you can't give significant equity to new hires to justify crazy hours, is to change the company culture to have closer to 40 hours a week. Both ITA software (which PG mentioned in Great Hackers) and Endeca, two successful pre-liquidity-event companies when I joined, had normal working hours. Is that only true in Boston, or in SF too?
Dude, reading that just makes me want to cry. I may be an IT enterprise schmuck doing java development for the man, but at least I have a life outside of the 8-5. Man I have so much to be thankful for: a job that's 5 minutes away from where I live, pays me very well, and I can be home for lunch with my girls every day and home for dinner before 5:30. I'd love to have my own startup (hence the HN trolling) but not at the expense of my family. I guess the lifestyle-business/startup is where I'll end up eventually.
martincmartin - I'm sure the ORCL check this year didn't hurt ;)
This is NOT a critique of Atwood's (or anyone else's) decision specifically; he has clearly been a success and maybe the work/home ratio in his life was out of balance. Like many good things, time spent at work can become a negative. But on the whole I don't think a parent, particularly a father, needs to feel guilty about spending a reasonable amount of time at work. You are teaching your kids how to be a provider, even if you are not physically "there" 24/7.
This strict boundary means I rarely if ever work from home. It confuses them. Daddy's present, but can't play with me. It breaks my heart to hear "Wanna snuggle with me, Dad?" and I've got visual studio open on the computer. Fk code. I want snuggle time with my baby-girl. So I leave if I have to and head in to the office. But I'm back before the kids go to sleep to read a story.
"Success" can be defined a lot of ways. My Dad reached his success by working very hard to gain enough money at the end of life to live playing golf daily in sunny Florida. He sees the kids maybe two times a year. My success will be living a full life now, surrounded by snuggling grandkids and hopefully great-grandkids when I'm old, still shoveling snow in Wisconsin winters if that's where they are.
To play Devil's Advocate, I would say the best example you could set to your kids is show them that what counts in life isn't money or a career, that to be happy you shouldn't sacrifice your family life or work yourself to the ground. That what is important is spending as much of the little time we have on this planet with the people we love. Even if that means not having the corner office or the biggest house or the newest car on the block.
1. We should remember that young kids have no idea that, while we are absent, we are sacrificing, providing and succeeding. To them, we are just absent.
2. Reading Dr. Suess and playing Lego with our kids is an expression of sacrifice, provision and success, albeit with different currency and goals.
The "principle of sacrifice" is a coping method fathers use to deal with their guilt for not spending time with their families.
1. That I did not work 78 extra weekends
2. Did not squeeze an extra 3 hours into each of my 8 hour workdays
3. Had more days where I had a vacant look in my eyes, while interacting with people I love, cause a work problem was bothering me.
There is a product to ship, damn it, and Family should never be a priority.
The idea is that as parents, we send subtle signals to our young children about how adult life should be. A father spending 6h a day at work and the rest with their child is preparing a personality potentially lacking a builtin discipline derived subconsciously from observing the parental example.
This has nothing to do with your worries about your death bed regrets. They're valid too, but besides the point the PP was making.
And some parents just don't like their kids and use "sacrifice" as an excuse to have fun at the office.
These are fathers who "sacrifice" their family years so that they can "increase stakeholder value" to the tune of 60+ hours a week. I don't want my kids to grow up thinking that their job in life is to increase the value of their VCs' portfolio by a couple of points prior to being liquidated.
EDIT: See also ( http://www.jwz.org/blog/2011/11/watch-a-vc-use-my-name-to-se... )
There is only so much respect to be accorded to someone advocating the waste of prime years.
(and all that said, again, point taken.)
Contract programming can facilitate a cushier lifestyle than I really ever thought possible when I was a professional musician. My ideas and my abilities will some day meet, but in the meantime I'm pretty satisfied. This whole post/thread gives that a bit more perspective.
Funny how often you read that in resignation posts. Four years is typically when one's shares become fully vested. At this point there's no way for him to make significantly more money from working at Stack Exchange.
It's perfectly logical to quit now, to either 1. Relax (maximizing family happiness) or 2. Start a new company (maximizing economic opportunity).
Considering how recently they pivoted into a VC-backed company it seems rather too soon for a co-founder to be jetting though. Wonder if Spolsky regrets backdating their vesting schedule (if that's what they did). Might be a bit of a cautionary tale for founders.
All IMO and IME, of course.
Four years, incidentally, is also the length of time a PhD used to take, in both the sciences and the humanities. Now it's stretching towards six - seven for the sciences and ten for the humanities, which may contribute to burnout.
What evidence point to 4 years as normative? What evidence suggests that a 4-year-old doesn't need a father? "OK, kid, I see you're walking and making sentences. Here's a knife and some flint. Good luck."
This has nothing to do with relaxation, or for that matter vesting schedules.
Now that they've just turned a year old I can safely look back and vaguely recall that: Yes it probably took about that much time to take care of the little guys.
Good luck, Jeff!
When kids are first born they need to eat every 2-3 hours including night-time. And a feeding can take anywhere from 15-45 minutes, with a diaper change per-feeding. If you're in the boat that Jeff or I were in you were very fortunate if your twins were both on the same schedule -- offset schedule twins are exhausting and relentless.
Oh, and 50% of twin births are C-sections and my wife was no exception. So her only jobs for the first six weeks were to recover, breastfeed, pump breast milk, eat, and sleep. Daddy took 6 weeks off work (3 unpaid) and pretty much had to do everything else until my wife recovered from her major abdominal surgery.
Not asking for pity or sympathy. I'm just saying that I don't know how people handle newborn twins without help from friends and family. It would be impossible.
The look I got I might as well have asked them if they'd just been to the moon. Four months in and things were still massively hard work 24 x 7.
Twins are HARD and anyone who has them has my respect.
I have two kids a couple of years apart. The youngest one is still at an age where sleeping at night is an on-off business but the oldest one is now fine.
With twins you wouldn't get that as they're both at the bad sleeping stage at the same period and that's something which re-enforces - two non-sleeping children at the same time is way worse than two non-sleeping children sequentially as there will be a period where you'll almost never get a good night.
Similarly my older child can now feed herself which means that meal times with the two of them are easier than they would be if both needed feeding.
Over all time, it might average out to close to the same amount of work per child (in later life they might entertain each other a bit more being the same age), but there are two or three years at the beginning where you're going to be severely punished.
Also financially there's no hand me downs with twins - they both want / need stuff at the same time.
Jeff's baby is all grown up. He's poured his heart and soul into this thing. Time to catch his breath, refocus priorities, and move on to something new.
What is to stop the VC from firing you the day before your options mature?
Then you would effectively have worked for them for free for 2 years, and for a low salary for a year and 51 weeks after that, all at 70 hours a week.
I would never give anyone the opportunity to do that to me.
Vesting doesn't just protect investors. It also protects cofounders. Suppose you start a venture 50/50 with a buddy. After a year, he leaves, and three years later you've bootstrapped the company into a $100m business. Without vesting, your cofounder would still be entitled to 50%. With vesting, he would get 25% of 50%, or only 12.5%.
Of course, this ignores any further shares the remainin founder might issue to himself by investing his own money or assets (he holds a majority stake, so that shouldn't be too difficult)
2. Why does the VC even have the right to fire the founders or CEO? The board has that right, and presumably the VC is on that board, but their rights are defined in the financing agreement. Control is an important negotiating point when raising a round of financing.
3. Why would a VC want to invest in a company where the founders have completely vested? What's to stop them from running off with the money, so to speak?
4. That said, I've seen incorporation documents where some small portion of the founders' stock is vested immediately (maybe 5%), and the remainder follows the standard four-year vesting, one-year cliff arrangement. This makes it a little harder to raise money and the VCs might insist on changing the vesting schedule as part of the financing agreement. Generally it's just easier to have everyone on the same vesting schedule, that way nobody can object.
Moreover, if I were working with a co-founder, I would (and have) insist we vest on that schedule, and certainly not monthly from day 1.
There are a few reasons:
1. I don't want my co-founder leave before a year and having a chunk of the company. Likewise, I want to do right by my co-founder. If I leave before a year is up, it wouldn't be right for me to own a chunk of the company.
2. It's inequitable for the founders to have different vesting schedules than employees. What happens if someone joins the team pre-financing? If they get the same terms as the founders, then what about an early employee vs. a later employee? It makes for a weird, political situation.
3. It makes it easier to raise money. If you're vesting on the same terms as your investors they have no basis to negotiate over that term; they'll just check the box and move on. It passes the "blink test."
These are just my experiences, so YMMV.
A severance option in your contract which would make it even more lucrative for you if they tried to get rid of you without a really, really good reason (like a criminal conviction).
Perhaps they'd like people to actually consider taking investment money from them in the future?
Your "cliff" is typically one year, anyways.
There are also often trigger clauses, which cause your stock to vest instantly when certain conditions are met. Being fired without cause (and cause here typically means a criminal conviction) is typical, although this can be structured to only take effect if the firing takes place after a liquidity event ('double trigger').
People who are willing to take the risk of founding tend to be workaholics by nature, but you don't need to be a workaholic by nature to be a founder. It's bad for you longterm and it sets a poisonous precedent for your company culture.
You don't run those at a fast pace, you complete them in like 8-11 hours. Perhaps that's a better metaphor.
Think about it, let's say you have a perfectly reasonable 40 hour work week. What would be a good extra amount to put into a side project/startup? 20 hours?
Now you're working 60 hours per week, just under an extra 3 hours per night. How long can you keep that up? How much time will that take away from your family?
Let's say you stick it through and launch. The questions and support emails roll in. How much of that will eat up your extra 20 hours per week to work on bugs and new features? And will your customers be ok with waiting the extra time while you slog away at your day job?
And what happens if that 40 hour/week job goes into crunch mode and goes up to 50 or maybe even more?
Doing this isn't necessarily hard in terms of difficulty, but it does take a LOT of time.
When I'm hanging out with friends or my family I'm not 100% there. I'm running over marketing scenarios in my head, trying to figure out how to squash this weird bug, or figuring out whether I should spend time talking with that one investor or not.
So no, I don't think it needs to take over all aspects of your life, but I'm not sure you can consciously stop it.
In the four years since quitting my day job to freelance and build my app, I've gotten engaged, married, gone on a honeymoon, got a dog, gone to Europe for a week, and had our first child. I also regularly go on vacation and go snowboarding. I've been full-time on Sifter for about half of that time. So I was part-time for about two years, and that was hard work balancing the two, but it wasn't that bad. I just split time between freelancing and building the company. It was stressful at times, but well worth it.
In my case these days, as a solo founder, it's a bit involved. I work every day, but for the most part, I still only work 40 hours per week. I work from home and see my wife and daughter all of the time and find time to go to the gym every single day. I take breaks and spend time with them whenever I want, and I just work whenever it fits into the family schedule. The only catch is that it's very hard to stop thinking about work in my downtime, but I think that has as much to do with me and being passionate about work as it does being a business owner.
It hasn't been a cakewalk by any means, but it's entirely possible. I've got a slide deck that covers some of the personal side of things if you're interested. (http://bootstrapping.sifterapp.com)
Second you have to make it profitable as soon as possible, so you can leave your job and at least start contracting 2-3 days per week, leaving full days to work on your startup.
Third, the sacrifice depends on the nature of your startup: if it's a no brainer like a management tool and you're a smart programmer, you won't need to get mad. But if it's really techy, then you better find some mate to not get lost in the venture and use up every minute of your free time.
That's my experience and what I've seen around the community here.
I can see why he'd take some time off and maybe start another venture that would lend itself to a more laid back culture.
My husband and I run a SaaS/infoproduct business which grossed right around $600k last year and we do not work long hours (or even 40 hours/wk). In 2011, we invested heavily in our next product, a new office, a lot of lawyering & tax accountanting (and made a couple rather big (hiring) mistakes with money), so our take-home wasn't glorious, but next year it will be.
* built the product in a hack day a week or so for 3 mos
* worked pretty hard the first year, since we were doing it alongside consulting; but literally there were weeks, and months, where we did nothing, and our business survived & even grew for a time
* quit consulting in 2010 (me in Jan, my husband later)
To put this in perspective:
In late 2009, I had mono, which knocked me out for a few mos. I got better for a while, but then a series of viral infections landed me with chronic fatigue syndrome. Several times since then, I've been incapacitated for 1-3 mos.
Now I'm mostly better, but every time I get sick, I'm unable to work for a week or two. I don't make it up by working long hours when I'm well, either. We're talking 20-30 hours a week for me, max. We haven't worked more than a 40-hour work week for more than two weeks at a time in nearly 2 years, and our biz is 3 years old.
In short: it's totally doable.
Focus on solving a pain people will pay for. Build something simple, which doesn't require a lot of maintenance. Choose customers who aren't needy fuckers. Pick your hours.
Example: Our 1st product is a time tracking tool. Unsexy but it's got a run rate of just over $300k/yr now, just over 3 years old. We had 8% growth in revenue month over month from Dec to Jan. Which is totally sexy.
And… right now we're on a month-long trip to NZ. I've been working an average of an hour a day because I'm running a course to teach people how to build this kind of biz. (That's in 2-4 hour stretches, not actually 1 hour a day, which would be useless.) My husband hasn't worked at all on this trip except yesterday he had to reset one of our (redundant) servers because of an apparent hardware failure. That'll probably take a couple more hours of his time this week.
Sure, we could work more, hit it harder, and probably earn more money. But we're nicely on track for $1.5m in yearly revenue inside of ~2 more years (when I turn 30!) so I figure, why bother? What could we NOT have with $750k/yr of sustainable household income, even if we spent half the gross revenue on overhead (which is ridiculously unlikely)? We already get to touch thousands of people's lives every day. We can already invest in charities and nice things.
As Felix Dennis, who's ludicrously rich (in my mind), wrote in his very excellent How To Get Rich:
"Ask me what I will give you if you could wave a magic wand and give me my youth back. The answer would be everything I own and everything I will ever own."
He says no less than 3 times in his book that if he could go back to his youth and live a different life, he would have spent way, way, way less time accumulating his obscene (hundreds of $mils) riches and more time living. I take him at his word.
In short, it's totally possible. You won't believe it if you spend too much time reading HN, however. Or people will tell you that your ambition is too small… and sneer that you run a "lifestyle business." But then, you will have a life, so you can laugh all the way to the bank.
NB: I blog about this stuff at http://unicornfree.com in case you're interested.
TIL that I've got to put the right mental filter on before coming to HN.
One question, obviously you don't have any high-touch sales going on, what do you do for marketing to find and convert new customers?
This time, we have part-time help in the form of an international business major at a local university. She's not an expert on our app, BUT for hard q's, she'll just let the folks know we'll get back soon.
Last summer, we had hired 2 full-time staff to do this and a variety of other things, but that was a major mistake for many reasons and we had to let them both go this fall (soooo stressful; now I am anti-hiring).
The other reasons our support load is so fast/light:
It's a mature product, without many bugs.
If things do go wrong, it's a time tracking tool, not the end of the world.
The UI of the product is really quite amazing, if I do say so myself; and that creates less confusion.
The look & feel of the app, our name, our marketing materials, our philosophy, our feature set attract and groom a certain kind of customer who is much more friendly and laid-back than the average SaaS customer. We get a tenth of the angry emails of friends who have a similar number of customers.
Finally, we ourselves are chill. Lots of folks with a business act as if the customer is a gunslinger shooting at their feet to make them dance. We do not. Early on in Freckle's life, we totally abandoned it for a month or two at a time, support included. Nothing terrible happened. I wouldn't do it again, but it puts it in perspective.
So thank you, Amy, for proving me wrong.
This exact thing here -- the idea that "no one will pay for it" or a question of whether there is "still opportunity" -- is why hanging around HN without the right mental filters is detrimental to your success.
There is not only "still" opportunity in boring sectors like time tracking, there's LOTS of it. LOTS and lots. The more people who use a tool, the more pain they experience, the more people who are left out by certain viewpoints on how to build or run the tool, etc., who discover they need an alternative.
"Startups" may be sexy and exciting, but the basic tools people have to use to run their businesses and their lives still suck goatnuggets. And these basics are a friggin gold mine. :)
There is MORE opportunity there than in some green field where nobody has gone before, because there's a reason nobody has gone there before.
As for time tracking being something "no one will pay money for," tell that to all the businesses who I'm sure make wayyyyy more than we do -- Harvest, FreshBooks, RescueTime, toggl, mite, etc. For a long time, the only compelling reason to upgrade to the higher level of Basecamp was because it came with (the most terrible) time tracking. And lots of people upgraded.
People who say things like "no one will pay for that" pretty much never do their research. What they mean is "I won't pay for that," which is totally immaterial, just so much self-absorbed gasbaggery. They simply can't imagine that anyone is different from them. And there are tons of those people in the "startup scene."
If you just open your eyes and look at the businesses you interact with every day, and look at how long they've been in biz, how many people they employ, what kinds of promotions they do, etc., you will see that there are a bazillion businesses like mine -- and much much much bigger -- which never make tech news coverage, they just quietly tick along making millions a year. I know a guy whose business has millions in revenue a year from a Wordpress plugin that you've never heard of.
But it's unsexy so HNers aren't generally interested. :)
So I pretty much hang around here for the occasional breaking news & the opportunity to spread the gospel. This discussion will turn into a series of blog posts so I'm getting something out of it too :)
I am the biz "visionary" (barf), the designer, marketer, copywriter rolled into one. Which is more than enough, believe me. :)
Honestly I had been on the fence about changing jobs until recently. I'm single and I realized that I haven't been on a date in a long time. Wolfram Alpha places it at about 3300 days (just over 9 years). I've made a good chunk of money, but all in all it's not worth the sacrifice of everything else I care about. I'd rather be at home trying to make video games and start dating again while I'm still (barely) in my 20s, so that's what I intend to do.
For fun, I even did a quick look at my Chrome history for last month: only 2 days had my not visiting StackOverflow.com.
I am 38, have a son at 2 and a girlfriend. Co-founded a company in 2005 here in copenhagen and grew it to 60 people in 2008 and now around 30.
March 1st I am out of there. I sold my shares in stable company and is going to New York and work with another company there.
I will leave my son and GF back in cph and hopefully convince them to move with me later on. Until then its going to be 3 weeks out of every month in NY.
It's not a rational choice it's certainly not a 100% a popular choice.
But my take on this is a little different than Jeffs and that is perhaps because I still feel I have something to prove :)
But I am thinking that even though I want to be around my son I also want to be more than a dad for my son. This I believe is going to be important especially when he grow older.
Perhaps if I did a huge exit I would think differently, perhaps I am being selfish.
But life is short and complicated and at least for now this seems to be the right thing to do all things taken into consideration.
My dad went the other route - he had an MIT Ph.D in nuclear chemistry and gave up his career to be a dad. He was always, always there to play LEGO with me or take me to the playground or drive me around to after school activities. And I really, really appreciated that - I probably appreciate it more now that I'm grown and he's dead.
The thing is - he still had something to prove, and because he had given up his professional life for me, he transferred that need to prove something onto me. And so for most of my childhood, I felt like I had to do well in school, and when I grew up it was up to me to win that Nobel Prize that he never had a shot at. And it went like that until I was in around middle school, at which point I basically said "Fuck that shit" and started sabotaging myself just to prove to everyone that I wasn't this super-genius who was destined to change the world.
And that wasn't really fair to me either.
I don't think it's really a matter of outcomes, of affording the big mansion in a gated community. I think that every kid deserves to have a dad who can be proud of who he is and what he's accomplished in life. If you can honestly feel that you're not giving up anything to be with your kids, but rather gaining something, then you should do it. But if you would otherwise be bitter and resentful for what you couldn't accomplish in life - it's better to have an absent dad than a bitter one.
I founded a startup at age 25. Worked my ass off on it for a year and a half. It failed and went nowhere, as many startups do.
But I felt that in many ways, the experience set me free. I'd kinda coasted through school, college, and my first job half-assing whatever work I felt like, because I figured that at some indefinite point in the future, I'd found a startup and become a millionaire, and so nothing I did really mattered. Whenever things didn't work out, there was always some reason - "The material wasn't challenging" or "The professor didn't like me" or "It's not what I want to do anyway" or "We're using the wrong technology stack" to explain it away.
When it was just me & my cofounder though, the material was challenging, it was what I wanted to do, there was nobody else to blame, and if we were using the wrong technology stack, I damn well better change it.
So even though it didn't work out, I felt that I gave it my best effort and made a sincere shot at it. And that set me free to give my best effort on other things, because really, the consequences of it not working out were pretty minor (I got hired by Google). It wasn't the outcome that mattered, it was the process of figuring out what I was capable of when I really put my mind to it.
I'd much rather figure that out at 27, when I'm single, living like a college student, and have my whole career ahead of me, than when I'm 40 with a couple kids, a mortgage, and a string of dead-end jobs behind me. And I'd much rather figure it out at 40 than when I'm dead.
After 2 years of my crazy commute for a higher paycheck, the paycheck doesn't quite feel as justified.
Wow, and I thought my 3 1/2-4hour commute was bad. If you live anywhere near a big city I suggest switching jobs. If you're a programmer the market is amazing out there. It has two weeks of very lazy job hunting and have found a new job that is closer, more pay, way better benefits and environment.
Though I am working on going out on my own, since I don't plan to keep the commute up long term.
You don't, your family is 2.5 hours away from where you spend most of your day.
I think it's quite hard to see the damage a commute like that is doing at the time, when you look back at it later you will wonder why you put up with it so long.
We could move close to SF, save maybe an hour or so commute each way, pay more for a smaller house, and then my kids no longer see their cousins and grandparents every weekend and we no longer get last minute babysitters.
Trust me, I analyzed my situation before and during this commute. It is very different from the outside looking in than when you are in the middle of it. And a few comments on a site like HN is missing a whole lot of context about a multi-faceted issue.
Or try to find a way to work from home. Then you'd have it made.
If anyone needs an awesome Unix Devops guy that is also a kickass backend Ruby engineer, hire Ken and let him work from home so he can have more time with his kids.
If your son is anything like mine he:
1. Will not understand why you're not there no matter how much you try to explain beforehand.
2. Will not like it one bit (I think my son was clinically depressed the first week).
3. Will eventually get used to it (It got easier after the first month but still not something I wanted him to get used to).
And if you're anything like me you:
1. Will be tired all the time (Spending 12 hours every other weekend in the car staring at cows takes its toll).
2. Will feel guilty all the time.
In the end I'd say the sacrifice paid off since I'm able to spend much more time with him now than I was able to in L.A. Also, thank God for Skype.
Lifes complicated. In some ways I am aware that being in the US for 3 weeks at the time is not optimal, but who said it had to be.
Not only that, but StackOverflow is often the de-facto place for a response to a technical problem of any kind. Heck, some companies even use it as a method for responding to queries about their product - one example I noticed the other day: http://blog.appharbor.com/2012/02/02/announcing-pricing
This is a result of such a thriving community, which Jeff has made possible through StackOverflow. So I just want to say thank you, for advancing the pace of development on the web and beyond.
As was explained to me with my own family: your job/company/career will never hug you back.
I used to approach my career with the standpoint of figuring out how to manage my time to wrap my family into the schedule. Now I do the opposite -- I figure out how to manage my time to put my career around my family.
Interesting thing I've found: I'm better now than I was before. Making a family investment decision, for me, has paid off in spades.
During that time, and to this day, I never ceased to be impressed by Jeff's committment to making the web a better place for programmers and the general public too. He never got mired in startup-speak; you never got the idea he was just in it to sell it, and even once they got some VC backing, you never got the idea he was planning to just sit back and collect the money. Just a no-BS guy in every regard.
It's obvious to me that when Jeff does something, he does the shit out of it, and I can't imagine that parenting will be any different. We could use more people like him in every part of life.
Good luck Jeff, and thanks for heping to rescue us from experts exchange.
P.S. Am I the only one that found the accidental relevancy of the post footer amusing?
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I just turned down an opportunity to join an early stage startup (would've been employee #4, engineer #2, leading a team) that was uncommonly well backed, led by a seasoned founder, and tasked to build some truly bad-ass technology. I've always been drawn to startups, and this was indeed a rare one, unique in my experience so far, and particularly well suited to my sensibilities and to the direction I'd been wanting to go in my career. Closest thing to a perfect opportunity yet, to be sure. But it required some travel (half-dozen or so trips a year overseas, week or so each, give or take, probably more), and would've surely required longer hours than I work now (generally 40, sometimes less). We have two young boys (ages 1 and 2 1/2) and a third due in August. My wife, ever my champion, did nothing but encourage me to take it.
But I couldn't do it. My dad traveled constantly while my sisters and I were growing up (still does, actually -- very successful, but physically and often mentally absent), and I've always promised myself I'd never make that mistake. It was by far the toughest professional decision I've ever had to make, was emotionally and physically draining (I lost much sleep over it, spanning several days), but ultimately right -- for me, anyway. Much as it might restrict me career-wise, I work to live, don't live to work, and I'm not willing to risk regretting lost time with my boys because of work I chose for myself over them. I can't imagine a future in which any of us would look back and say that was worth it.
Many thanks indeed to you, Jeff -- you all did build something awesome. As my dad would say, Now go have fun.
I always wondered why we, programmers, do not have an amazing software to ask questions about our craft? Jeff gave us the answer in Stack Overflow and it was everything I would have hoped for. And then some. I love the fact that Stack Overflow (and sister sites) attracted experts in their field and following their answers, I learned a lot.
Thank you Jeff and I wish you all the best for your next adventure. :)
You know, I really think it's not. It may have been in the '90s, but the times have changed and it hasn't. Sites like HN and Reddit are much better software for discussions, but I'm sure these forms are just temporal as well.
Basically, Reddit style is better for "New Star Trek Movie announced", forums are better for "Let's talk about Star Trek".
Also, I think the barrier to entry in a 400 comment thread is largely different as well - with reddit, the issue is whether your comment will receive any visibility, whereas, IMO, in a [bulletin board] thread, catching up on 400 comments of discussion seems daunting and almost pointless.
I can already tell this post is an instant classic that I will return to many times in the coming years. I was left with almost exactly the same thoughts as he was after reading Jobs' biography - and kudos to him for following through.
Seeing Jobs' life being lived at the expense of a meaningful relationship with his kids (especially his daughters), for me personally it made his Stanford speech about "following your heart" being the most important thing ring hollow. What happens when your heart values your job more than your kids? Is that just bad luck for your kids?
Perhaps our own gut instinct is not the final authority we should follow. Maybe loving our kids is something that is more important than "succeeding" at our job, even during times in which we don't feel like it is.
I think he was exhausted...
maybe this books is worth a look:
The Big Enough Company: Creating a Business That Works for YOU
With VC cash drying up, Manhattan office space, and fifty employees that aren't exactly cheap. Jeff (to his credit) is exiting gracefully while he can. Kudos.
Stack exchange I believe is developed mostly by programmers working from home and there are enough of them and SE is well developed enough that I doubt it requires Jeff to be glued to his keyboard at all times so it would seem simple to reduce his hours at his current job. In many ways it is the ideal job for somebody with a family since he's working at home and he's already done the hard part. I imagine it's now more a process of making gradual improvements as the money comes in.
I wonder what is next for Jeff, I can't see him taking a cubicle 9-5 with BigEnterpriseSoftwareCo and if he joins/starts another startup type business he's back to square 1 in terms of workload.
Perhaps he will focus on his blog/writing more now?
He doesn't seem to worried about the prospect of being unemployed with a growing family so he must have stockpiled a fair amount of cash.
When I first saw the title I thought "Oh no, why is Stack Exchange closing down?"
Maybe the title should be changed to the more accurate "Jeff Attwood quits Stack Exchange"
I routinely disagreed with your blog, and self-promotion -- but in the end -- you delivered a slick site and built a great community.
It doesn't matter that I didn't like your opinions, or thought that Joel's column became pointlessly self-promoting.
All those things thrive in the tech-blog-o-sphere, and there is no shortage of people with unpopular opinions, fanbases, or self-promoting start-ups.
Instead, you guys did all those things, _and_ delivered a kick-ass tech Q&A site on _windows_ with a team of, what 4 people in the initial development?
Anyway, congrats to a job well done!
Take some time off, you've earned it!
As others have said, thanks Jeff for all the lessons and time saved with Stack Overflow! Super happy for your success and hard to imagine how it could have worked better. Your twins are only months old, your son is less than 3, so your success affords you all the time with your family. Your success story is well balanced and positively enviable.
I'd say it made me a better programmer.
Perhaps you plan to outsource to a very understanding wife / girlfriend / grandparents, but if you want to do it yourself then bear this in mind: Jeff's was the only option on the table.
With StackExchange, getting the correct answer is one post away, and that is a revolution!
So I will use that word of "thanks" to express my gratefulness towards Jeff and Joel and all the community members(!), and want to wish Jeff the best of time with his kids.
Thank you StackExchange!
Jeff and the stackoverflow team have put together something really incredible. Congratulations... and thank you.
I am curious about the culture there. FogCreek seems very family friendly. Did it not bleed over?
I say good luck to him and his reasons could not be more justified in my eyes.
Thank you Jeff, I'm glad you shared some of your awesome with us!
In any case, I thought there was content in there for everyone. Reflecting on what 'success' means, where your priorities ought to lie... it's all interesting stuff.
I think that this is utterly not in keeping with what should be promoted on HN. This isn't /r/programming.
HNers believe Atwood leaving SO has more impact on HNers than HN projects and networking events. That is, in fact, why it has so many more votes.
That's a false assertion, by the way. There are a variety of reasons why people may have upvoted the article.
How many people use StackOverflow every day, and are interested in the people behind it's success?
I had convinced myself that my comfortable lifestyle web dev business was all I really needed. That pursuing startup ideas were not worth sacrificing time with family, friends, and hobbies away from the computer.
When Steve Jobs passed, I took stock of his accomplishments, watched the Standford address, and was generally inspired. It loosened me from my comfortable rut just enough to start bootstrapping a startup I had on paper for about a year. So far, 4 months in, the sacrifice has been little to none. Who knows though, I still may regret this down the line.
I don't agree with this user either, but it's so much more constructive to explain why you're downvoting things than it is to just downvote them and not say anything.
As for you georgieporgie, good on you. I for one appreciate it when people explain why they're downvoting me.
I am sure we will hear from him whenever he is back with his new adventure.