Today is a very exciting day for me, because I start as a full-time employee with Automattic, Inc.
Here’s a little bit about how that happened and what it means to me:
In 1999, I got what I consider my first job in the web industry. I was hired as an “HTML Engineer” at InsuranceMyWay.com.au (now defunct), a company that allowed users to compare different insurance policies online and then complete their purchase via the web. It was pretty cutting-edge stuff back then, especially in little old Western Australia. At that job, I started playing with PHP and MySQL and both technologies just clicked for me. Since then, I’ve worked with the LAMP stack pretty much exclusively and have never looked back.
Fast-forward to around 4 or 5 years ago, when I installed and themed my first copy of WordPress at the job I had at the time. I was in charge of making most technology-related decisions there and chose WordPress as the ideal platform for our company to launch a customized blog with a unique theme, integration with a specialized search system and a basic categories implementation (tags were only available as a plugin at the time!). I had seen and heard a lot about WordPress, but I’d never worked with it directly until that point.
After that initial project, I was involved in a few smaller projects here and there with WordPress for friends and some smaller clients (I’ve always done consulting work on the side), but never anything too serious. In amongst all of this, I had read up on WordPress MU — the multi-user/blog-network version of WordPress. When I quit my last full time job, I used WPMU as the backbone of MyBabyOurBaby.com, which at the time was probably one of the most customized installations of WPMU around. That gave me about 7 months of doing nothing but looking at WPMU code, figuring out the internals, integrating with bbPress and just generally becoming a bit of a WordPress Pro.
With the publicity from MyBabyOurBaby, I spent the next year working on WordPress projects of one variety or another pretty much exclusively. I did everything from small one-off plugins to do some custom RSS feed work, to working with sites like Mashable.com to help them tune, optimize and scale their very large installations.
I got very used to the freedom and flexibility of the freelance life, but somewhere in amongst all of this, a little over a year ago, I sat down in Huntington Square Park and asked myself “if I were to go and work for a company, full time, which one would it be?” I wrote a list of names down on a card in order of preference. The first name on that list was Automattic.
And so – 3 days before Christmas last year (normal calendars start to blur and not mean much when you’re not on a normal schedule), I finally got around to officially applying for the “Code Wrangler” position listed on the Automattic Jobs page. I didn’t hear anything back, and figured I wasn’t up to scratch. Chance was on my side though, because Matt was speaking at an upcoming MySQL meetup being held at CNet. I accosted him there and asked if he’d seen my application, which he apparently hadn’t. A few days later he got in touch with me and we worked out a contract agreement to do some test projects so that we could both see if I was a good fit for Automattic and vice versa.
That was in January. A few weeks ago I signed my full time contract, so now here I am, starting my first Monday as an official Automattician, and I couldn’t be happier. I’ve met a bunch of the people at the company and so far they are an incredibly smart, passionate and dedicated group of people. All of them.
Today I start with the customary 3 weeks of user support for WordPress.com that all employees start with. I’m guessing that by the end of the 3 weeks, I’ll know the WP.com platform pretty intimately 😉 After that, I’ll probably continue working with the IntenseDebate guys on their impressive comment/reputation system and then we’ll see where things go from there.
You could say I’m excited.