Joining litl

I have left Ribbit to evangelize Channel content and application development on the litl device. This is the 2nd post in a two part story, of where I was and where I am going.

Where I am going…

The love for consumer electronics is in my blood. I was raised as a gadget nutball. My father went to CES every year for something like 22 years straight. I remember him returning with tails of gadgets and new technologies. These were my bed time stories. The technology in our house wasn’t lavish, but appeared essential. My grandfather opened a typewriter sales and repair shop in 1947, fresh off of WWII. 60+ years later, my dad, aunt and uncle run the business as a leading regional consumer electronics and appliance store. We had early access to all the 80s good stuff as it came out. If a dentist’s kids have great teeth, then I had more than my filling of electronics growing up.

After 11 years of coding web applications, I can’t show you a darn thing online. The DOW chart I did for has long been gone. The widgets Rob Abbott and I worked on for and eBay China, while cutting edge, didn’t last past 2006. All the Flex 2 work I did with an amazing team at Yahoo! Maps, an app once used by 40 million people a month, is no longer viewable. [Also gone are my Easter eggs… Shft+F zoomed into Fenway Park.] Even the original code for the breakthrough Ribbit API has all been paved over. These projects represent the years upon years of coding I’ve done. Poof. Gone.

I’ve known for a while that eventually I needed to find a project to work on that would deliver something REAL… something tangible… something you can hold in your hand. I can say quite honestly that I was not actively looking for new opportunities. However, when you get to be doing what I do for a few years and have the visibility that many in our community do, you get contacted by recruiters a lot. When one of those “do you know anyone who is interested in…” emails came across that interested me, I took a closer look.

So, these are some of the key aspects of litl that more than appealed to me. Effectively, here is why I joined the company (in no particular order):

– litl is a device AND a developer platform, with huge potential

I love that litl has the dual opportunity to promote both a device and a developer platform. This should make for a much different experience not just evangelizing what developers can do on a platform, but also talking about the product itself. Effectively, we’re bringing two products to market: 1) the device, 2) the SDK to build/deploy custom content and application channels on the device. Having had experience with startups, I have a pretty good sense of what to look for at the management level. The leaders of this company appear to have the vision and patience necessary to make this a successful venture.

– litl is based in Boston

The last time I worked at a Boston based company was June 2005. I miss the city, its culture and the convenience of catching a Red Sox or Celtics game after work. I’ll still work almost full time out of my well-equipped home office, but having the company’s HQ within driving distance of where I live should cut down the length of my trips (especially to the West coast), considerably.

– litl had the perfect position for me

They were looking for an established Flash Platform evangelist. This is actually my 3rd evangelist role, after Ribbit and Yahoo! Maps. I love engaging developers, giving you new opportunities, and new things to extend Flash Platform with.

– litl is committed to Flash

They’ve already built an impressive Flash developer team, led by the very respected Flash/AIR coder Kathryn Rotondo. As you learn more about litl, and the unique way its channels will allow a streaming web page experience, you’ll see just how essential Flash is. Currently supporting Flash Lite (as2), we’ll eventually roll out a stand alone Flash Player 10 (as3) SDK for channel development.

– litl will create opportunities for the Flash community

There will be an ecosystem for Flash developers to build/contribute custom channels, which will be made available for sale/free, in a revenue sharing iPhone store-like model, to litl customers.

– litl is a chance to evangelize a product-based platform over a service-based platform

Basically, evangelizing a service-based platform, like Ribbit, has some interesting complexities. Beyond the challenge of just promoting the service, you need to encourage developers to get their own accounts, and in some cases, require developers to purchase your service just to work with it. It’s also more about “how does our service work IN your apps?” With a product/device based platform, like litl, it will be more about “how does your application work ON our platform?” The former is more invasive, where the latter is more enabling, I think. [I really owe this concept its own post…]

So, I’m a few days into my new job and love it so far. I had a chance today, at RIAunleashed, to start showing off litl. The reception is great and very encouraging that litl WILL BE an amazing outlet for Flash development on mobile devices, and a break though web experience overall.

litl being shipped