It’s crazy just how fast life can change.
When I was in Montreal having the time of my life at Osheaga, I received the following email from the Dan (the CTO, now CEO) of my company (Peek):
hey man – we should have had this conversation yesterday.
We need to cut cost at Peek (I can give you the bigger picture when you’re back). I want to try and find you a new home for next semester, so I’m going to intro you to a few startups in town, as is Amol. If we don’t find something new and we still have a business going, etc, we will of course try to keep you… but I’m about to make some intro’s for you and hopefully they will work out.
This, of course, was a huge shock, and it put a bit of a damper on my weekend. I wasn’t sure what I’d be going back to in NY: whether or not I still had a job, if I’d be able to find something new, if I’d have to move back to Barrie, nothing; the uncertainty was a bit surreal. But stressing out never makes anything better, so I enjoyed my weekend of amazing music in a beautiful city with some great friends and tried to keep a smile on my face.
After my long weekend, I headed into work with the hopes of dispelling some of the uncertainty. After a talk with Dan, many of my worries were alleviated. It turns out Peek’s place in the feature-phone market was fast becoming non-existent. They were in the midst of planning a pivot and they were willing to keep me on. However, I realized that life probably wouldn’t be much fun at a company in survival mode so I elected to try and find something else for my second term.
I emailed a bunch of companies and I ended up meeting up with seven over the next week: Adcade, AppNexus, Vine, Evidon, Kohort, Facebook, and Twitter. However, I immediately ruled Facebook and Twitter out because their application process was measured in weeks rather than days. In the end, I received four written offers (AppNexus, Adcade, Evidon, Kohort) and one verbal offer (Vine). I decided I needed a bit of a break before making my decision so I told Peek I’d be working my last two weeks remotely and took off to Canada. After my first weekend at Karl’s place, MPD from Kohort called me and did his spiel, trying to convince me to join Kohort. He was very convincing and inspiring, but I told him that I was trying to decide between Kohort and one other company (Adcade). Less than five minutes after hanging up, he called back offering me 25% more than his original offer if I accepted on the spot and I couldn’t refuse. I committed. After getting the weight of that decision off my shoulders, I was able to enjoy my time in Canada knowing I had an amazing job to go back to.
I’m now three weeks into life at Kohort and have no doubts that I made the right decision. The team (Steve, JT, Tom, Matt, Ben, and the biz team) is awesome, I’m having fun learning the ropes of an early-stages start-up, I’ve made significant contributions to the codebase, and I’m very happy overall. Life is good .
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Here’s a brief tour of the office. Apologies for the crappy pictures; my NEX-3 is still in for warranty so these were taken on my Lumia 710.
The main office is where the business team lives, and is shared with another company called Wrapp. The kitchen is always well-stocked. A fridge full of Red Bull and Coke, sandwich fixings, Greek yogourt, and hot dogs, and cupboards with real bread, Cliff bars, and tons of other snacks make the day a little happier. In the back corner there, you can see the dev cave:
Here’s where the dev team lives. Country, dub step, or something else decent is always playing on the Sonos, and we get Seamless delivered right here at least once a day. Cinema Displays for everyone are another decent perk :
I’m really quite lucky to be where I am. I highly doubt switching jobs would have been nearly as painless as it was if I hadn’t ended up going to UW for computer science; there’s crazy demand right now for programmers from decent schools and Waterloo is as good as it gets. I had almost made the decision to go to either UofT or McMaster, but my decision was made when Kory told me to man up and go to Waterloo so that we could room together. Thanks, dude :p. Here’s to hoping that the demand for CS nerds like me continues for the indefinite future, and that I’ll be able to find an awesome job (like Kohort) after graduation.
Working at Peek, and now Kohort, has helped me form a rough plan for my future. I’ve come to the realization that I definitely want to work at a start-up for the next five to ten years. I’ve come to love the past-paced days and the immense opportunity for learning, and making significant contributions to real stuff that is used by people every day is a great feeling. Perhaps I’ll try my hand at a larger company like Microsoft, Amazon, or Google when (if?) I have a family and need something more stable, but that scenario likely won’t occur for a number of years. Until then, I’ll be keeping this quote by Stephen Cohen close in mind:
If you graduate Stanford at 22 and Google recruits you, you’ll work a 9-to-5. It’s probably more like an 11-to-3 in terms of hard work. They’ll pay well. It’s relaxing. But what they are actually doing is paying you to accept a much lower intellectual growth rate. When you recognize that intelligence is compounding, the cost of that missing long-term compounding is enormous. They’re not giving you the best opportunity of your life. Then a scary thing can happen: You might realize one day that you’ve lost your competitive edge. You won’t be the best anymore. You won’t be able to fall in love with new stuff. Things are cushy where you are. You get complacent and stall.