17 Feb

Day 1: Let’s get down to data

After five months of backpacking with my partner through Scandinavia, Southeast Asia, and Africa, I wasn’t confident I would be able to rejoin the crazy world of tech. I knew that being part of a dynamic startup with a product and team I believed in would help.  Coffee would too.

What drew me into LaunchDarkly were all the demographic ‘wins’ – a great product in a growing space, a strong, savvy team, and outstanding team of investors. Plus, as an audiophile, I love the To Be Continuous podcast, which features Paul Biggar of CircleCI and our very own Edith Harbaugh.

That was enough to start the conversation, but here’s why I signed on to LaunchDarkly:

  • Right time, right place: For me, LaunchDarkly is at its Goldilocks moment. With a 16-person team, a technology that developers love, and a growing list of happy customers, the startup appeared poised to (pardon the pun) launch. But as the gears click into place, it creates a huge amount of operational fun in order figure out how to get it all done. Is it time to bring on more sales reps? Are we ready to move out of our excellent home at HeavyBit? Most importantly, does it all scale? To all of the above, an emphatic ‘yes.’ The fun part is figuring out how it all comes together.
  • You know nothing Jon Snow: In startups and in coding, I’ve found the best way to build is through experimentation. You come in with a thesis for how you believe the world works, but the hard truth is that you can’t count on knowing anything about what your customers want. And when in doubt, you test. You set up experiments with a small set of customers to see what sticks and acknowledge when it doesn’t. In startup land, this build-and-test culture has become the norm. But even as development cycles contract, code deployments are often a nail-biting all-or-nothing push. Enter feature flagging, which enables developers and product managers to stage deployments as a series of manageable chunks. In short, feature flagging lets us course correct even as we race ahead, and I love that LaunchDarkly enables that.

So how did it turn out? As of day 1, my expectations on the team, product and customers were right on. The snacks, however, were even better.

10 Feb

LaunchDarkly Values

LaunchDarkly Team
  • Respect and integrity for our team, our customers, and our community.
  • We believe in teams, not fiefdoms. Leaders, not tyrants.
  • We’re building a place where you can learn and grow.
  • Work is not life.

When John & I started LaunchDarkly, we’d known each other for years, since being undergraduates at Harvey Mudd College. Part of why we started the company together is that we shared common values about the company that we wanted to work at. As a founder, you’re not only building a product – you’re building a culture.

As we got bigger, it was time to formalize our values from tribal “this is the way we work” knowledge to something more scalable. We surveyed our current team, and I was thrilled that, what I thought our values should be, the team already thought were in place. We reviewed our values at our last team meeting, and everyone gave an example of the time they’ve seen them practiced.

“Values are valuable when you have a hard decision to make,” is John’s and my view. By making our values public, we hope both our customers and our team can know who we are.

08 Feb

And so the adventure begins

It’s something of a LaunchDarkly tradition to write a blog post at the end of your first week. But here I sit, deep into week number two, and I haven’t written a thing. In my defense things move pretty fast around here, and I was just trying to keep my head above water. My second day on the job, having finally set everything up so I could start coding, they had me deploy production. By the time Friday rolled around, I had fixed 3 bugs, opened 6 pull requests, deployed production two more times — and written zero blog posts. Better late than never though, right?

A new chapter

I’m extremely thrilled to be part of this great company. I joined LaunchDarkly after nearly 10 years at Atlassian, where I spent most of my time doing front-end development and arguing about UX. I’m excited to take everything I learned there and continue to make LaunchDarkly a product people love to use.

I took the job because I believed in the people, the product, and the culture. If anything I underestimated all of those things and I can’t wait to see where this journey takes me.

An escape

The other day we went on a team outing to an escape room. If you’re not familiar, you basically solve a series of puzzles using items in a room in order to “escape” the room. I’ve never done one before, so I have nothing to compare it to, but this particular escape room required a lot of coordinated effort. We had 12 people participating (almost the whole team, which is at 15 now), but at any given time there were probably 3-5 puzzles being worked on.

The beginning was a little chaotic as everyone tried to figure out exactly what we’d gotten ourselves into and what in the world to do next. But pretty soon we settled down, started self-organizing, and talking through the problems. It was pretty amazing to see everyone working together so well — no arguments or drama, no jockeying for leadership, just good old-fashioned teamwork. I think that experience sums up my time at LaunchDarkly so far — fast and fun, with a great group of people working together towards a common goal.

Oh yeah, and we escaped the room (just barely).

03 Feb

My First Week

Start your Engines

As I reminisce on my first week at LaunchDarkly, I’m reminded about the initial call I had with Russ, our VP of Sales, to learn more about the company and opportunity. Russ and I have known each other since 2012, when I interviewed for his team at Box. Although we didn’t end up working together, we kept in touch and kept joking that one day, we would! I guess you could say it was fate that caused that call a few months ago to happen…or just perfect timing.

When I spoke to Russ and learned more about LaunchDarkly, I immediately felt that gut instinct say “yes”. It was clear to me that this represented a great opportunity to join an awesome team that had built an amazing product that customers loved. Now, I look back on my first week as validation for the gut feeling I first had.

Shake and Bake

The whole week was filled with highlights. Monday started out with our first revenue meeting, then an all hands where John and Edith walked us through the company values (which I agreed with wholeheartedly). I sat in on a variety of customer calls, which showed me how interested companies are to speak with us and how valuable our platform is to them. The sales team met with one of our advisors (a former co-founder / CTO) and had a great meeting learning about how best to partner with VPs of Engineering / CTOs. And then on top of that, I learned more about the product, the market opportunity, and the company vision.

What I’m left with after that first week is being continually impressed by the company and product John, Edith, and the team have built. From hearing successful customer stories, meeting other team members, and learning about the strength of the product, I’m filled with confidence in our ability to succeed. More so, I’m excited to start partnering with companies and help them deliver better software, faster.  It’s been a great first week, and I’m looking forward to many more.

31 Jan

My Continuous Journey

I spent that last two and half years working at Intercom, helping build a sales team in San Francisco and Dublin and then a global sales engineering team. One of the most important things I have learned from Intercom is that if you want to have the best product on the market you need to push new product fast, in fact failing fast is more important than succeeding slow.

After my first week at LaunchDarkly, I am ready to help businesses understand why continuously delivering product is so key to gaining market share, building the best product for the market and your customers, and safely deploying at scale.

Edith and John have built a fantastic team, everyone has been so welcoming and helpful getting me up to speed. I have spent most of my time diving into the product and infrastructure. I also have been jumping on customer calls so I can understand the jobs customers are using LaunchDarkly for. So far, I am impressed by the customer’s eagerness to use feature flagging, from large enterprises to small startups. I am also impressed on the number of use cases that LaunchDarkly can help provide value.

I am really excited to be part of this team and to help build something that is going to help change the way companies work.

To the current LaunchDarkly team, thank you for having me! To the future ones, come join us.

19 Jan

My first week is in the books

Like coming home

At the end of my first week with LaunchDarkly, not one but two teammates separately remarked that it felt like I had been with LaunchDarkly for a year now. In a way, that was true since I had been a customer and internal champion for at least that long. But I had only just arrived last Monday to find a shiny new laptop and desk with my very own LaunchDarkly t-shirt. On the previous Friday, I received notes from Edith and John about how excited they were for me to start. I had never felt so welcomed on my first day at a new job as I did here!

The team is still small enough that I met the entire company in a couple minutes and felt like I clicked with everyone instantly. I can tell everyone is seasoned and fully engaged in the company, wearing at least two hats at all times — yet we also find plenty of occasions to laugh. I know I’ll need to step up my comedy game to keep pace. Like a family, we have lunch together every day and share what’s going on in our lives, but unlike a family, there’s no drama and dysfunction.

Our space at Heavybit is great — lots of natural light, a cozy feel on even a cool winter morning, and plenty of warm woodwork. The quirky yet stylish decor makes me feel at home, even though I come here to work. I also love that there’s a communal feel to the space, a community among startups.

ABC: Always Be Coding

My first week included a tremendous amount of pairing to get my development environment up and running, but by the end of the week, I also managed to fix a few bugs, review some code, and deploy to production. They even let me get my feet wet with a few support tickets! I love how fiercely agile the team and all our processes are. We’re using new tools and services I’ve never even heard of before. If it might possibly help us, we try it. I’m looking forward to shipping new features in LaunchDarkly and exploring how these third-party services can help us move even faster.

Right time, right place

I joined LaunchDarkly as employee #12, the fourth new hire in about a month. For me it’s an exciting time to be here, having an opportunity to help shape our values and culture and witness the realization of our future home. This rocket ship is about to lift off, and I’m psyched to be aboard for the ride.