Thursday, February 03, 2005

Working for Six Apart

(originally posted at

I have just formally accepted a position with Six Apart as a Software Engineer on the TypePad team. I'm more than excited and still catch myself giggling, sighing, and feeling completely overwhelmed at the prospect of moving west in less than a month.

After being hired by Technorati, Niall Kennedy wrote a wonderful post about the interview process he went through. I enjoyed reading it so much that I decided then and there that I'd craft a similar post about my experience interviewing with Six Apart.

Round One: The Application

Per the job posting, I sent my resume with a brief cover email to I cc'd Ben Trott, who I'd had brief prior contact with during the MT3 alpha/beta period and whose job title was listed as the manager of the position I was applying for. Within a week I'd heard back from Ben directly, suggesting that we chat a bit more about the position.

Round Two: Instant Messaging

I was sitting in Amtrak's Acela loung in New York City - en route from DC to Rochester - when I received an IM from Ben. He told me a bit about the company, but I was already pretty familiar with their products and services. We chatted about my work history, my current consulting work, and my history as a blogger. We talked a bit about Six Apart's move from San Mateo to San Francisco and the new office space they were still setting up at the time. At the end of the conversation he said he'd like for me to chat with some other staff members - but as the holidays were approaching, we had some scheduling difficulty.

Round Three: Phone Interview

After the holidays, we scheduled back-to-back phone calls with three staff members:
  • Byrne Reese: Product Manager, TypePad
  • Randy Reddig: Software Engineer, TypePad
  • Paul Lindner: Server Engineer
The night before, however, news broke about the LiveJournal acquisition. I was up all night reading community reactions in both the blogosphere and the journaling community and chatting on IRC about the ramifications of the deal.

Byrne called first and we had a nice chat about what TypePad offers and some potential future developments. Randy and I talked about the development process of the TypePad team and the tools that they use to get things done. Paul and I discussed the back-end of things and the tools used to manage them as well as some of the projects I'd be interested in working on. Each conversation had an obligatory mention of the LiveJournal deal.

Each discussion went longer than the last as I began to wake up and not feel so groggy. After the last conversation I was thoroughly excited at some of the things we'd talked about and some of the pending product developments.

Round Four: Face-to-face Meeting

About a week after the phone interview, I received an email from Ben asking if I could fly out to meet the team. Of course, I jumped at the opportunity. After being unable to escape the Boston blizzard, I returned to Rochester where it was still snowing. I was ready for some sun, and boy did I get it.

I met with Ben first, right after a staff meeting. We talked for a bit and he showed me LifeBlog and we discussed the structure of the rest of the day. He showed me around the office and introduced me to Jay, Ezra, and Brad from the MovableType team. The latter two and I split off into a conference room and chatted a bit about MT. I was then introduced to the TypePad team - Mark, Garth, and Randy. We moved to the "make love not war" room, and discussed the TypePad app, my development history, and I was quizzed on things like regex and debugging methods.

When our time was up, I got to have a quick break before meeting with Byrne. We chatted about his function as TypePad Product Manager and how he interacts with the team. He gave me a couple of brain teasers that reminded me of the kind of interview techniques I hear Microsoft uses. They provided me with a nice mental change of pace and gave him an opportunity to witness my problem-solving skills.

Byrne then took me to meet with Mena. It was about three and a half hours into the interview process that day and I was beginning to burn out. Thankfully, Mena insisted on me removing my tie and relaxing a bit - she even made me a cup of green tea. Her office had the most comfortable chairs on the premises and I immediately sank into one of them.

Mena wasn't really interested in my technical capabilities. She wanted to know more about me as a person, and gauge whether or not I'd fit in with the slightly off-the-wall Six Apart crowd. She surfed my Drupal blog and checked out my musical taste at She'd mentioned her upcoming trip to Japan and I informed her of my fondness of Japanese culture and my desire to learn Japanese. I found that it's quite hard to sum yourself up into a few easily digestible nuggets of information and I probably ended up just seeming awkward in attempting to do so.

Mena took me to meet with Ben again. I recapped all the conversations I'd just had for him and then we discussed compensation packages and availability. He asked if I had any questions for him, but not having signed an NDA, I was unable to ask any questions that he'd be allowed to answer - so that concluded this round of interviews. Interesting fact: Ben's mobile phone has a Hello Kitty bangle on it - and if it's not Hello Kitty, then it might as well be. Grin.

Round Five: The Offer

What are you, nuts? I accepted it. Six Apart offers a competitive salary with great benefit plans available. My start date is the first of March. The interview process was the most rigorous one I've ever been through and lasted just over two months. There has been no talk of a "probationary" period - which I think the interview process was meant to nullify. They have a pretty good idea of my technical capabilities and shortcomings, and have been exposed to enough of my personality to make sure I'm not completely psychotic.

The Future

I'm a firm believer in eating your own dog food, so this TypePad blog will be seeing quite a bit more use in the months (and hopefully years) to come. I'm not sure if this will become the new ninjafish or not, or whether I'll be able to continue a development role on the drupal project - all that remains to be seen. In the meantime, I've got quite a lot of preparation ahead of me for the move and will likely be around a lot less. I'm still available via IM or email - ping me if you need someone whose good mood may be contagious.

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