While I was in my final year of college I founded SafeBrowse.com with my brother Shane and $30k from friends and family. Beginning life as a dialup Internet service provider we soon found that we needed to pivot to something more sustainable. That is when we created Safe Eyes. By focusing on our customers, Safe Eyes began to gain traction, win awards, and emerge as the leading solution in the parental controls space.
In 2007, we rebranded SafeBrowse.com as InternetSafety.com and raised a round of venture funding. The funding allowed us to grow our managment team by bringing in an external CEO, who's focus on growth opportunities and business development was a great asset to the team. From 2007-2010 we grew the company's revenues about 500%, and in December of 2010 InternetSafety.com was acquired by McAfee. After the acquisition I continued with McAfee to guide the integration of the company into McAfee.
In 2012 I left McAfee and returned to the CTO role at eMeals.com to help put dinner on the table for hundreds of thousands of people each week.
I enjoy building elegant and simple technology solutions. Simplicity on the back end is just as important as on the front end, but it is often overlooked. Simple code and infrastructure reduces complexity costs that can paralize a business over time.
I sometimes feel like in an alternate life I might have been a designer. I enjoy building the visual and interactive design side of a product almost as much as the technology side. While I am comfortable directing designers, I often find that to get a user experience just right I have to jump into photoshop myself. I have to experience the design, find the rough edges, and chip them off.
Uptime doesn't just happen, it has to be engineered. Uptime is the product of a properly functioning partnership between engineering and I.T. operations. I have had the opportunity to experience first hand the pros and cons of several different models of DevOps. For more thoughts on this topic, see my blog post: 3 Models for DevOps.
Great accomplishments are the product of great teams. Over my career I have started teams with a single developer and grown them into teams that span the globe. What I have learned is that teams don't as much need to be managed as they need to be led. Leadership imparts direction and focus, then gives ownership to the team for the end result. Great people thrive with this sense of ownership and freedom. Here are a few more thoughts about teams:
I have seen small, tightly knit teams accomplish what many would consider impossible. In small teams communication is fast, management is simple, and people can focus on their work. I like the Amazon Two Pizza team size concept (regardless of whether Bezos or Vogels coined it).
Location, Location, Location
It's the first rule of real estate and the first rule of team building. Location matters. If your team is too distributed you end up spending a lot of time keeping team members up to speed. This doesn't mean you can't take advantage of building teams in multiple locations, but if you do, it is best to put an entire project into a single location and give the team ownership.