A gift

15 Oct 2015

I’ve been in the software industry in one way or another for well over 25 years now, and in the course of that time I’ve been luckier than I ever could’ve imagined to work with what seems like an endless succession of brilliant, incredible people.

For the past 18 months or so, I’ve been the manager of the Community Engineering team at Etsy, and the engineers who were on the team during that time – Ian, Lauren, Sean and Steffi – are 4 of the best people I know in the world. It feels like the arc of my career, measured by the bonds I’ve had with my co-workers, has been on an ever-upward slope that reached a pinnacle with those 4.

Today was, effectively, our last day together as a team. After our last meeting, they gave me an amazing card that I will keep forever, as well as a gift which requires a little bit of a backstory.

When our team originally formed (before I joined Etsy, and indeed before any of us but 1 joined Etsy), we were known as “Seller Economics.” Part of Etsy’s culture is that each team has an IRC room that’s used as a place where people outside the team can ask questions, members of the team can ask for code reviews and summon people to meetings, and where people on the team can simply socialize. (as an aside, that’s part of what makes being a remote employee at Etsy so great) Anyway, the IRC channel for Seller Economics was called #etsynomics

About a year and a half ago, the Seller Economics team chose a new charter, and we decided to focus on Etsy’s Community. We called ourselves the “Community Engineering” team, which was the Obviously Correct name (lots of non engineering teams at Etsy think about Community, so we needed to differentiate ourselves as being specifically about engineering – helping the Etsy Community through writing code, rather than through providing training or other routes). Of course “Community Engineering” has some weird overtones to it, which were not lost on us, and it sort of turned into a joke complete with various Soviet Propaganda items and/or pictures of Kibbutzen or Monty Python anarcho-syndicalist commune jokes.

Soon enough, we changed the IRC channel we all hung out in to #etsycommies and we changed our alert word to “commies” and basically created this never-ending in-joke. But, the thing is, there was a weird undercurrent of truth to all our joking: we really did develop an amazing esprit du corps, and we (for lots of reasons, many of them completely outside the control of any of us) formed an amazingly tight bond. We passed the simple “we work together and get along” stage and moved onto the stage where we could disagree with each other easily, and argue with each other about things both work related and non-, and still be friends and always have respect and, truly, love for each other.

So, today, after our last meeting – a meeting full of feelings, and some tears – we all got together to talk, and one of the people on the team pulled out a card and a wrapped book for me. The card, of course, made me cry. The book – maybe it came from Etsy? – is perfect:

Of course:

The “gift” I reference in the title of this post isn’t the book, or the card, as much as they mean to me. The gift is the chance I’ve had to work with this amazing group of people, and the incredible Etsy Sellers and Team Captains I’ve met in the course of working on this team. The gift is the faith that various people at Etsy – notably Kellan, and Kimm, and Heather, and Seth – put in us, and the inspiration we got from the community, and all the people at Etsy who helped us and all the people who use Etsy who inspired us. Everything ends, and this team ended too soon, but it was transformative and transcendent for me. Thank you, all.

Published on 15 Oct 2015 Find me on Twitter!