This is the end. The final chapter. The goodbye. Of what? An era? A company? A dream? Let’s not get melodramatic.
It was October 2011. A growing company moves into a larger office space. We’d built this company from four employees to twenty. In the next two years, we’d grow to fifty. A consulting firm had blossomed into a product company with nearly ten business products and a consumer social site with teams of engineers, salespeople, marketers and customer service ninjas. It was a wonderful thing, growing, expanding, struggling but winning. It couldn’t possibly last.
In the Spring of 2013, we were acquired. At the time, we had several would-be suitors. We thought we were pitching to various VC companies, but those were lies. Instead, our CEO sold us to a competitor, for cheap. A public company. A corporation whose products I had personally badmouthed for years. We were doing our best to create awesome tools with limited funds, while they pranced around with a fortune peddling crappy, aged software. We had no reason to like them, but a lot of people put a lot of effort into making the transition successful. (Disclaimer: I wasn’t one of them initially, but I eventually returned with high expectations.)
In today’s technology landscape, businesses are acquired every day. Some are well integrated into their new parent company. Their products grow and flourish or their talent helps to create new and wonderful things.
Sadly, our products were killed off one by one for lesser tools, our technology replaced by messier solutions, our sales and marketing teams dismantled, our engineers disheartened, and, eventually, our office shut down.
You always hear the good stories and occasionally the horror stories, but you rarely hear those in-between tales. The ones where the new parent company’s intentions are good but their execution falters. The ones where potential is squandered. The ones where hope fades, and everyone is left to wonder what might have been.
I walked through our office halls yesterday with a sense of finality and nostalgia. They were once crowded with people chatting, working, shooting nerf guns, buzzing on caffeine during crazy release nights, eating pizza, talking on phones, arguing over features or strategy. They’re now barren. Lifeless. Haunted.
We went on quite a ride. Now most of us are scattered. Most of us will never work together again. We may never chat. After countless random lunch table conversations, after happy hours and excessive personal revelations, after early morning coffee trips, late evening coffee trips, karaoke nights and beer-cart Thursdays, a band of coworkers has become a band of former acquaintances. We’ll remember happy moments in these halls. We’ll remember angry moments. Frustration. Laughter. Intrigue. Politics. We’ll remember each other, and we’ll remember an exciting ride. We’ll wonder what might have been, and we’ll almost surely lament everything that went wrong, for reality too often falters in the shadow of our dreams.
Thus I say farewell to this office. Farewell to coworkers. Farewell to the past. There are secrets in these walls, a shared history that may yet give birth to new ideas and partnerships. Should success emerge, perhaps the effort was not all in vain. At a minimum, many of us made new friends, and those relationships may prove more valuable than money. Maybe. Or something. Remember what I said about melodrama? None of that now.
On to bigger and better things.