A farewell to Mixx

Almost exactly four years ago, I left AOL to work at Mixx, a tech startup.  I started as VP of engineering and pretty soon became CTO.  That’s less impressive than it sounds, given that my engineering staff consisted at its largest of myself and five others.  Still, I was the court of last resort for technical matters, something that I greatly enjoyed, and I loved the startup life, with every day full of new challenges and excitement – for an adrenaline junky like me, helping to run a startup is just one long fix.

The moment when I first realized how much I loved being part of a small company came in my first month.  Four of us were sitting around a conference table planning what to build.  At some point, I realized that everyone who had a vote was in that room.  We would not generate a decision only to have it later reviewed and changed by three layers of executive management, as might have happened at AOL.  I found that level of involvement in the decision process intoxicating.

Mixx was a wild ride – it turns out that starting a new company a year before a global financial meltdown can lead to some exciting times – and not all aspects of the experience were positive.  But most of it was great, and I got to work with a terrific group, including a technical team that I recruited and led myself.  I’ve never had a job that I enjoyed as much.

After about three years of the ride, we sold Mixx last October to a company then called TweetUp, later called PostUp, now called UberMedia.  They were primarily interested in some technology we built for processing content extracted from Twitter, which tied into their own strategy of building on the Twitter infrastructure.

But Mixx Classic, the central piece of Mixx which allowed users to share stories that they found on the web, was of less interest to them.   And so, about a week ago, we shut down Mixx Classic.  UberMedia has plans of bringing something similar back in the not-so-distant future, but they will have to do it without me.

And so we get to my own current situation.  I contracted with UberMedia to help them integrate the Tweetmixx technology into their stuff.  (Tweetmixx is the Mixx piece related to Twitter that was of interest to UberMedia.)  At some point, they asked me to stay on beyond that initial period.

The truth is, I have absolutely no long-term interest in this company.  As I mentioned, I greatly enjoyed being CTO of Mixx, and I’m going to find a similar position somewhere.  Further, UberMedia is located in Los Angeles, and I have no interest in working remotely.  Add in the fact that I have serious doubts about UberMedia’s product strategy and you can see why I’m not interested in staying.

But for various reasons, it suited me to stay with them for a while.  I intend to take a couple months off, and June sounded like a much better month to start a sabbatical than February.  Further, there’s a few other developments that mean summer will be a better time for me to start on new opportunities.  UberMedia wanted me to stay on as long as I would, so I told them June.

Admittedly, it’s a bit frustrating.  I’m way out of the loop  – about the only advantage is that I’ve discovered that when you have nothing to do at work (as happens in pretty much every job now and then), “working” at home is much better than “working” at the office.  And most of all, I’ve found that after being boss of tech for four years, I have little patience working under others.  Especially when I disagree with their approaches.

Still, it does keep the money coming in as the weather improves.  So it hasn’t been a total loss.

In the meanwhile, Mixx as I built it is now on the ashbin of history.  Goodbye, Mixx – I greatly enjoyed our time together.  I hope to see you rise from the ashes, but I shall have to see that from afar.

Now on to the next adventure!

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