After four and a half years I've decided to leave Federated Media. It has been the most rewarding work experience of my life. It wasn't always easy, but it was always worth it.
From the early, depressing days of machines falling over, Mike Arrington emailing, stuff just not working right, numbers off, and unhappy sales people—to seeing really smart people have a look at us and say, "Yes, I'll join" and then watching as these people come in and do some brilliant work. It's pretty much everything you could hope for when joining a company on the ground floor.
When you are a founder you have something like 1/4 or 1/5 of the company under your control. The four of you are sitting in a room just pounding away on your parts, trusting everyone is doing what they need to be doing.
Slowly as people join you give up a bit here and there, pretty soon you're at 1/10 or 1/20. I don't mean actual authority, I just mean you have to trust people with some of your stuff for the company to be successful. You can't do it all, and if you can find people who will own a bit of your 1/5 then you can focus on just the bits that really need your attention.
Without a phone call from John Battelle I would have missed out on an incredible experience. I cannot thank him, or the co-founders: Chas Edwards, Jennifer Charette, and Ken Snider enough for trusting me with the engineering portion of this company.
Very recently as we were restructuring, I realized that most of my original 1/5 was pretty much covered by smart, competent people who are just killing it. And that's when the startup itch returned. Getting back to the little room, thinking about big plans, forgetting what it's like when the servers are falling over…
I'll have more on this later. For now you can go ogle the obligatory, enigmatic landing page designed by my wife and partner for the new company here: http://simpleform.com/ and I'll have more about what I'm up to in the coming month.
I am also open to the following: beers, lunch, consulting of all types (I did put an engineering team together that stayed together for over four years), and any and all advice from people who've done this before me.