I will leave Port Zero at the beginning of 2020. I intend to work independently from then on. This is a big step and it raises a lot of questions, and I intend to answer them in this blog post.
Why are you leaving
I love Port Zero. It is the company I grew with, ever since I first worked with them as a contractor in 2015, and especially since I joined them as a software engineer in 2016, and even later as the CTO. Helping to transform the company from a very small company run by a handful of people to a professional operation with an office and official procedures for just about everything, all while still being mostly a group of friends, has been extremely rewarding. Now, after about 5 years of mutual growth, it is time to let go.
If this all sounds a little over the top, it is because it feels like a big thing, and because I truly want the company to continue being as great as I found it to be.
The question remains, though: why am I leaving? As always with emotional things the answer isn’t simple or easy to explain, but I’ll try anyway.
I worked a lot on myself for Port Zero. I had to grow as a programmer, as a team leader, and as someone who helps run a business1. It was exciting, tiring, frustrating, rewarding, and a bunch of other adjectives of the feeling persuasion. It’s been very consuming, because I wanted it to be. Noone told me to work long hours, or to think about Port Zero while lying awake at night, but I did.
I definitely feel the weight of responsibility, and I feel like if I go down the road of being a manager, even in a company as small as Port Zero, it will, without a doubt, wear on me. I’m 26, and maybe my youth is part of why the responsibility of leadership is hard on me. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m managing my friends, and I’m working hard for them to happy. In the end all I know is that in my current position I’m no longer cut out for the role I’m filling at Port Zero.
This and the fact I really would like to spend more time thinking about and building software systems led me to the conclusion that it is time to let the team grow without me.
I could go back to being a software engineer there, but I feel like I wouldn’t be able to step away from the responsibility just by virtue of a title change. Instead it’d be a relief by label only.
So I decided to work as an independent technologist for a while. I might collaborate with Port Zero for a while though, to tie up any open knots, and to work with the clients that are used to working with me. I don’t intend to poach any clients, and anyone who’s working with me through Port Zero will be inelligible to collaborate with me independently.
What’s next for you
For a while now I’ve been thinking about being independent, and only being responsible for myself, so that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I have some experience of working as a freelancer, and it’s been mostly positive. Now, a few years later, I expect it to be just as enjoyable.
I’ve overhauled my website, and I will make this site my main site as soon as I’m independent. The most important bits about my plans for the future are explained there, but I’ll summarize them here.
I call myself a “technologist at large”. This title might seem a little too grandiose at first, but it’s mostly due to the fact that I have a distaste for the more customary alternative titles like “freelancer”, “consultant”, or “contractor”. It communicates that I aim not only to program, but also to think about what I’m doing, and that I value my freedom.
My services are not very specific. This is due to the fact that I don’t think it helps much to rattle of a list of technologies I’m familiar with, and if people want to know what I have experience with, they can always look at my Github account.
I put my rates on my website. This is pretty unusual, but I always appreciated honesty and openness, and I’m not particularly interested in cornering a market or keeping trade secrets. I want to make a living, and communicating as early and as openly as possible helps keep my stress levels down—and hopefully those of my clients as well.
It’s also important to me to support open source projects, and by lowering my rates for those projects and advertising that, I hope my clients have an incentive to think about which of their projects, libraries, or application they could open source.
Apart from work, I intend to spend some more time on personal research on tooling for static programming languages. I’ll probably write a separate blog post about that relatively soon.
I value all kinds of feedback on my decision, my website, and this blog post, both good and bad. Please get in touch! Likewise if you want to work with me, of course.
This is an exciting time in my life, and I hope I can share some of my work with you in the coming weeks and months! Wish me luck!
P.S.: Port Zero and I are still looking for the next CTO that will help shape the company in the coming years. If you feel like that could be you, contact me or the company directly! And if you’re a Recurser, there’s the added benefit that Port Zero is a Recurse company!
1. Here you witness me trying to avoid using the word “entrepreneur” because it sounds silly to me.