2011: A new year, a new gig.

It’s been one hell of a year for me. Jaxon is now a year old and doing great. I got to spend alot of time with my family, almost 6 weeks by my count. I did some traveling too: I was in Taiwan for two weeks in May; I spoke at IPC (Germany) in October, and traveled through Bavaria and met some great people. I did some really cool stuff at work. Again, it was a great year.

But, I think as humans we ultimately can’t leave well-enough alone, and being human (yes, debatable), something needed to change. Due to some personal and professional reasons, I decided to leave Yahoo! to pursue other opportunities. I was there 3 1/2 years and I had some great times. I worked with really smart, passionate people and worked on projects with major impact. Yahoo! was a great experience for me – they moved me out here, gave me fun stuff to work on, allowed me to pursue my technical interests and even do some traveling, all on their dime. For that, I’m very sincere when I say, “Thanks.”.

So, why did I have to leave? Well, to paraphrase a thoughtful colleague’s blog post, Yahoo! and I had reached a crossroad where I really couldn’t “add” to Yahoo! and pursue my current interests at the same time. There is plenty of work to be done, but for me to take it on would mean me putting aside my own aspirations. While I do believe that my interests and Yahoo!’s immediate needs will converge again one day, it’s just not today, and so, I needed to move on. With all of that said, I really, REALLY want to thank upper management for trying really, really hard to find a position for me that met my needs – Thanks.

So, what’s next? How can one top working on the Number 1 News site in the world? Work on stuff in space, of course!

I’m now the Senior Platform Software Engineer at Skybox Imaging. Skybox is a venture-backed startup that’s building satellities (yes, we literally build them in house) better, faster, cheaper and smaller than anyone has before. So what am I doing there? In short, I’m responsible (solely ATM) for storing, processing and serving all of the data (video, photos and text) we get from the satellites.

This is an awesome opportunity for me for several reasons:

  • I’m building the Hadoop cluster, storage and serving layers from scratch, everything from design to deployment, and much of the code that runs on it.
  • Lots and lots of data, and using Hadoop to process image data is largely-uncharted water at this point.
  • Lots of code to be written – in addition to the above, I’m helping out the flight software team in building the encoder that converts the human readable command manifest into the bits that get radiated to the satellite.
  • This industry is completely new to me, which makes it fun and interesting. I know nothing about space, aeronautics or mechanical engineering. They’ve already let me have at it with some of the tools (they obviously don’t know me too well) and I haven’t hurt anyone yet.
  • And of course, there are the perks:

  • Kegerator
  • Ping-pong/Nerf Guns/Xbox/Team events – all the usual startup stuff
  • Only two miles from my place
  • I literally work with Rocket Scientists.
  • It is going to be a fun year. We’ve got lots of cool toys to play with (we have our first satellite dish *inside* the office) and some serious $$$ behind us. Of course, I’ll miss working with my friends at Y!, but we’re all in the same town and I’m sure we’ll stay in touch. I wish Y! the best and do believe they are now on the right course – 2010 was a planning/design/initial implementation year and 2011 will further implement that vision. And I look forward to the day that Y! News publishes the article describing our first launch – look out for it!