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Cheez Disconnected

My heart sank when Scott made the announcement on the first evening of CheezCon Winter 2012 -- he planned on leaving Cheezburger at the end of the year. Scott represented our department to the board and the rest of the executive team. He hired all but one of us. He built a culture around remote work, and set precedent in lots of subtle ways. For example, around 2010, while we were chatting about something, he proposed a change in the way we referred to teams: instead of naming them after the product manager the developers worked with, why not act like sports organizations and have team names? I thought it was a silly attempt at morale boosting, sort of like allowing posters on the cubicle walls*. But after trying it for a while, I realized that it made sense. A team shouldn't be renamed just because its linebacker retired, it should keep its name season after season. Thus were born Derpakiin, Adventure Team, the Hipsters, Da Bears, and IO. The team names were a great idea.

At the announcement, Scott went around the room and said one nice thing about each person in the department. He told me I was probably the smartest person in the room. (You know what they say about being the smartest person in a room.) I think he said "probably" because Stefan was also in the room, so he couldn't be sure. Just hearing all the short stories reminded me how we were networked together by a single node. Losing the node wouldn't destroy the network, but it would drastically reshape it. I couldn't imagine CheezTech without Scott. He ended up leaving before the year was up, in late November. They are replacing him with a pair of vice presidents.

I left mid-December. Five others left that month. Three more left this January. Half the Scott-CheezTech network has disconnected, and reconnected elsewhere. Motorsports, writing, a winery, events for kids, deep-space mining, consulting, big data, teaching.

There are a lot of smart people still on that network. I will miss visiting everyone in Seattle. I hope we connect again.

* Cheezburger does not have cubicle walls, even in Seattle HQ.

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