Leaving Ning, Returning to the Valley

After eight years, I’m leaving Ning. I joined this little company called 24 Hour Laundry back in 2005 and promptly started arguing with Diego. They were good arguments, I learned a lot.

I could go on for pages about how great Ning was. I’ve had the privilege of working with a number of great people at several companies, but the sheer density of brilliant, knowledgeable, and productive folks at Ning was something that is hard to describe. In 2005 we built a platform as a service, before that term existed, before EC2 launched and the term “cloud computing” was coined. Today, eight years later, I watch as a number of the most exciting technologies and practices emerging are new implementations of things we’ve been using internally for years. I am immensely proud of the things we did and the people I worked with.

Four years ago I left the valley, though I stayed with Ning. It was challenging as I worked mostly with infrastructure, and those teams were not distributed, unlike most other teams at Ning. Around that time Ning went through some turmoil. There was a big global recession, money got tight, and we had to shift our business model. This was when the quality of the folks at Ning, and the strength of our relationships, really showed. Even those who left remain close – we hang out in IRC together, get together frequently, work on each others’ open source libraries, and eagerly help each other out all the time. I guess this shouldn’t be surprising, coming out of a company focused on building and enabling online communities.

I’m still bullish on Ning and Glam. The work on Ning 3.0 is really good (and still going furiously!) and products in the pipeline are exciting. After eight years, though, it is time for something new. I will miss the folks there, and hope our practice of staying in close contact continues!

I am sad to be leaving Ning, but am excited to be returning to the valley. I usually describe the valley as a black hole for technologists, it eventually draws everyone into its’ orbit, if not into itself. It is as Firenze was during the Renaissance, the center of the world for practical purposes. The reasons I left still hold, but the reasons for returning are even stronger it turns out. I cannot wait to see all my friends again face to face, instead of through IRC!