One year at Apcera
We recently passed the one year mark at Apcera and I thought I’d take a brief moment to look back on how far we’ve come and just how fun the past year has been.
My actual one year mark at Apcera was two weeks ago, however Tuesday of last week is what we consider our official one year mark, since June 18th of last year was when we had ourl “kickoff” with everyone from the initial team.
I had started one week earlier, but my first week pretty much consisted of ordering my MacBook (I started the day the retina Macs came out too), attending True University, some small planning, and getting my new MacBook at the end of the week.
In the year since, we’ve had a lot of ups and downs. We spent the first couple months in what I called double stealth mode – nobody knew what we were doing, and we didn’t even know what we were doing. Derek essentially told everyone to design the majority of the product – without coding it – and then sell it to him. What? No coding? I can’t code the cool stuff we talk about? Nope. In the long run though, it paid off. We all learned Go in the process and it allowed us to vet some of the early, fundamental assumptions.
There have been a lot of ups and downs though. In March, just as we were having our first Apcera family weekend skiing in Tahoe, we all came home to find out that Kirill, one of our team members who didn’t go up that weekend, and passed away. It was a pretty big shocker to the team. We are a very small and close knit team, and Kirill had an amazing talent. He was integral to the team. It isn’t like when you come in and find that someone has given notice. In that case, you have 2 weeks to process the transition. In this case, it was going home on Friday and have him not being there on Monday.
But over the past year, Apcera’s culture has truly grown into something amazing. Early on, Derek was asking us what kind of culture we wanted for the company – what are the traits and how do we implement them. I don’t think culture is something you can really define and implement though. It simply happens. It is formed out of the qualities of the initial team, and cemented by the traits they look for in others as the team grows. We didn’t choose our culture, our culture just happened.
And in my opinion, we have an amazing culture. We strive very hard to be a meritocracy. In our technical discussions, we all bring varying backgrounds and, though sometimes rocky, we grit through to come up with the technical designs everyone agrees on. We are strict in our code reviews. Yes, we’ll knit-pick on the grammar in your log lines and usage of index vs pointers in ranges, but that is because we’re all passionate about our product and bettering each other.
But outside of our technical culture, we value one another. At lunch, our main conference room becomes our cafeteria. Our Off-Topic room in HipChat is quite off-topic (but not off-color, as the room topic emphasizes). We’re a startup and busy, but still value balance in our lives. Time off, team lunches, team dinners, and also extended friends and family. We love having friends drop by the office, spouses, and try to plan a couple events that involve our spouses and families as well.
One of the important aspects to me is that after a year in, I feel more connected to everyone I work with than most previous employers. My wife knows everyone I work with, as well as their spouse, and their kids (though the team is growing fast too).
A few months ago we were talking about the one year coming up, and that was when I realized it was about this same point that at my last job I was actively talking to Derek about joining. I left my last job after only being there 11 months. I was 10 months in at Apcera and so far the thought of leaving had never even crossed my mind.
Now we’re just starting to unveil what we’ve been building for the past year. We haven’t really said a whole lot yet, since we’re all still pretty busy writing code to move it even further ahead, but we’ve built some pretty cool stuff so far and looking to doing so for a long time to come.