Short, Painful, Worth It: My Brief Stint at Twitter

Short, Painful, Worth It: My Brief Stint at Twitter

Short, Painful, Worth It: My Brief Stint at Twitter | by Rich Armstrong | The Startup | Aug, 2020 | Medium.

On September 3rd, 2016, a friend alerted me to a tweet that took me on the wildest ride of my career so far.

“Want to fix abuse on Twitter? I’m presenting plans to @jack and his staff on Wednesday. Hit me up if you want to join my team. DMs are open.

Specifically, I’m hiring engineers and engineering managers to work in San Francisco and Boulder.”

I had just moved to Boulder from Brooklyn, coming back to my home state. I wasn’t quite ready to pull the trigger on a job, but this checked all the boxes. Mission-driven. Diverse team. Growth oriented. It seemed perfect.

My soon-to-be boss’ first question in the interview was “Why would you take this job? You ran Fog Creek.” Fog Creek, if you don’t know, was the developer-obsessed product incubator founded by blogger Joel Spolsky, and the source of such products as Trello and StackOverflow. I’d spent seven years there, eventually working my way up to COO.

It was a good question. Why step down from executive to line manager? I explained that, despite starting out as an engineer on a shipping product early in my career, my path through Google and to the top of Fog Creek had taken me mostly through the back office. Still technical, but not productengineering. It felt like I had skipped a step. I wanted to test my mettle in a pure engineering environment, directly working with a shipping product.

It was a great match. I flew through the rest of the interviews and got my offer. My team would be three devs growing to a team of 10. That was the plan, at least.

The cracks started to show even before my start date. The plan and the reality were diverging.

First, before I even started, they had layoffs. I was assured that my job offer was secure, but my headcount had evaporated. “Okay,” I said to myself, “No problem. I like working with a lean team.”

management twitter engineering microservices personal-development

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