The next step

posted 20 November 2006

The astute amongst you, dear readers -- and, really, amongst you there are few who are not astute1 -- will have noticed a larger than usual gap in the already fairly patchy narrative of my life that is this blog. In particular, you will notice that in early October I got made redundant, only to get a new job a little over a week later, promising "details soon". But those details never arrived. So what's been up?

Well, a lot, as it happens.

The week we were all made redundant was, understandably, pretty terrible. We were told that our positions had been made redundant, but we had not: as valuable, loved, huggly-cuddled employees, they wanted to keep us. So we had three months in which to find alternative positions within the company. In a company the size of Yahoo!, this is fairly practical: we always have dozens of unfilled positions even within the relatively small London office, and over at HQ in Sunnyvale it can be hundreds. And speaking of Sunnyvale: yes, they said, we could apply for US positions as well, and if we were qualified and willing to move, a US position would be no harder to arrange than a UK one. So, this in mind, I applied to the obvious place first: the EU web development team, based in London. I also fired off my details to a few of the more interesting-looking jobs listed at the US office, but I didn't expect much to come of that.

My interview for the EU webdev position was one of the toughest I've ever done, and for good reason: those guys are all shit-hot at what they do, and don't want anybody who isn't. Much humbled by an interview process which asked me questions about HTML that I didn't know the answers to -- about HTML! that thing I've been doing for a decade! -- I was both surprised and honoured when they offered me a place on the team. I accepted the position, and blogged to that effect.

Meanwhile, however, other forces were afoot. To my surprise, people in the US office had received my CV and started getting back to me, asking if I could interview with them. As some members of our team had to head over to Sunnyvale to talk to our former team-mates about handing over responsibilities anyway, I joined that group and we prepared to head over, although at that point I was merely very excited about going to SF, more so because a friend and colleague of mine who used to live in SF had arranged for me to stay with some lovely friends of his while I was there, so I had the weekend to wander around the city as well. A job offer would be nice, but mainly it was just an unexpected vacation.

So I arrived in SF and promptly fell in love with the city, somewhat predictably. Much less predictably, the city, or at least that portion of it composed of hiring managers, also seemed to like me: one interview turned into three and four, and I ended up spending most of the time I was there talking endlessly to different Yahoos, all of whom had a different idea of what an interview should be: sometimes they were checking my sense of humour, sometimes they were asking me to wax eloquent about the nature of user interfaces, and sometimes they were asking me to find a method of sorting a list in order log N (I needed lots of hints). At the same time, I was getting used to the campus, the commute (Sunnyvale is a long way from SF), and the weather (it's great!).

Widgets and The City

WidgetsIn the end, all four groups2 offered me a position -- it was just up to me to pick which one I liked best. Confounded by this embarrassment of riches, I took several days to weigh things up and finally decided on Yahoo! Widgets (formerly known as Konfabulator). I'll post more about Widgets and why I'm backing them in a later post, but I start with them in January and I'm very excited about it. And that leads naturally to the rather bigger news, which is that I'm moving to San Francisco.

Yep, three and a half years since I left uni and just under seven years since I moved to London, I'm leaving: it's on to the big US of A for an indefinite period of continental exploration. It all only became official enough to mention today, when I received an official offer letter and contracts and t-shirts and things, delivered by the UPS man in a big purple box which, I kid you not, yodelled at me when I opened it3. Currently it's all dependent on visa applications, so the move itself isn't likely until be early next year, tentatively mid to late January.

I won't say I don't have any reservations about the move: it's a huge step, leaving behind a whole country and a way of life and a group of friends whom I dearly, dearly love. But I did exactly that when I left Trinidad, and it worked out pretty well for me then. Yes, the US is ruled by the wrong man, but the democrats have conveniently seized power just as I'm about to arrive and pour money into their presidential campaign. Yes, the hours are long and vacations are, well, pretty much non-existent. But California is a playground full of places you only hear about in the movies, Silicon Valley is full of my geeky bretheren, and I hear rumours that San Francisco may have some sort of gay community. This is a job that was built with me in mind. The original move from Trinidad taught me that leaving everything behind is not nearly as traumatic as one thinks, and the friends who really matter stay in touch, and I hope that will be true again.

So, then: onwards and upwards I go. I'll let you know when the leaving party is as soon as I know when I'm actually leaving ;-)

[1] And what the hell, I'm feeling complimentary: you're all very attractive, too.

[2] For the record, the other three were 360, Groups and Mobile. And I would very happily have worked for any of them; deciding between them nearly killed me.

[3] Coming soon to eBay: a light-sensitive yodelling device.

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