Where I was…
30 months ago, in April 2007, I walked into the door at Ribbit after leaving Yahoo!. It was a risk. The startup was well into VC funding and had only built a team of just over a dozen talented, yet mostly executive employees. I had a one month old, and my wife and I were wondering how much longer we’d stay ‘re-located’ away from Boston and in the Bay Area.
2 months later, in June 2007, I presented to Ribbit a vision to abstract some very unique internal APIs towards creating an outward facing Flex SDK and developer community around it. They approved, supported me, gave me budget, and I hired Doug McCune and went to work. For 3 weeks, we coded to fine-tune methods (makeCall, getMessages), objects and events (incomingCall, newMessage). For me, this period would be the most exciting coding experience of my career, unlocking never-before-seen functionality to my fellow Flash developer community.
2 months later, in August 2007, I flew to Seattle and presented the Ribbit Flex SDK for the first time at 360Flex. The API introduced a dial tone to Flash Player, and for the first time, allowed developers to make phone calls, send messages and manage contacts from within their Flash and Flash applications.
In the year to follow, we launched the SDK, grew the platform community to over 6,000 developers, worked with Infrared5 (Keith, Chris and team) to get Flash Controls built, and all this culminated when, in July 2008, Ribbit announced it was being acquired by BT. As I revealed in my Flash on Tap presentation this past May, going through all the steps leading up to and surrounding the acquisition were extremely sensitive, nerve-racking, and so rewarding that I only hope my dearest colleagues and friends some day get to experience it.
My job at Ribbit became my 2nd longest stint at any company, and by far, my most successful career move to date. I am very proud of what I accomplished at Ribbit and what the company did together. These days, Ribbit’s focus has shifted and diversified. The novel Flash component that was once our centerpiece is now but a single offering in an array of quality and innovative SDK offerings based on a new RESTful platform. Ribbit has successfully launched their own applications, and now gears up to support both its own users/customers as well as its developers/customers looking to deploy Ribbit in their own applications.
In the 2.5 years I was there, I presented Ribbit to over 60 conference audiences, user groups and community gatherings. This year alone, I’ve flown 36 times, taken 10 long train rides and stayed in almost 20 different hotels. It takes a lot of dedication and passion to travel around the country and across the pond, promoting the virtues, innovation and excitement of your company.
My decision to leave Ribbit is based on mostly personal factors. I’ve found success working with Flash Platform technologies and the amazing developers in that community. To successfully evangelize technology, you need to both wrap your head AND your heart around it. While I found it thrilling and interesting to enable dial tone and telephony development with Flash, the idea of doing this for other technologies just didn’t excite me as much.
To my colleagues at Ribbit, I wish you all luck as the company grows and continues to succeed. To my developer community at Ribbit (now over 16,000 strong), may the ever more diversified and stable platform provide all that you need to produce industry-leading, communications-enabled applications.
Lastly, in saying goodbye to the world of Ribbit, I am also closing a West Coast chapter in my life and career. Tomorrow, for the first time in 4.5 years, I will check into work at a Boston-based company. I’ll reveal details on my exciting move to litl in my very next post…