Three Months at a Cloud Startup: A Quick Assessment

It’s been nearly three months since I switched gears and left enterprise IT for the rough and tumble world of software startups and cloud computing. What are some of the biggest things that I’ve observed since joining Tier 3 in June?

  1. Having a technology-oriented peer group is awesome. Even though we’re a relatively small company, it’s amazing how quickly I can get hardcore technical  questions answered. Question about the type of storage we have? Instant answer. Challenge with getting Ruby running correctly on Windows? Immediate troubleshooting and resolution. At my previous job, there wasn’t much active application development being done by onsite, full time staff, so much of my meddling around was done in isolation. I’d have to use trial-and-error, internet forums, industry contacts, or black magic to solve many technical problems. I just love that I’m surrounded by infrastructure, development (.NET/Java/Node/Ruby), and cloud experts.
  2. There can be no “B” players in a small company. Everyone needs to be able to take ownership and crank out stuff quickly. No one can hide behind long project timelines or rely on other team members to pick up the slack. We’ve all been inexperienced at some point in our careers, but there can’t be a long learning curve in a fast-moving company. It’s a both daunting but motivational aspect of working here.
  3. The ego should take a hit on the first day. Otherwise, you’re doing it wrong! It’s probably impossible to not feel important after being wooed and hired by a company, but upon starting, I instantly realized how much incredible talent there was around me and that I could only be a difference maker if I really, really work hard at it. And I liked that. If I started and realized that I was the best person we had, then that’s a very bad place to be. Humility is a good thing!
  4. Visionary leadership is inspiring. I’d follow Adam, Jared, Wendy and Bryan through a fire at this point. I don’t even know if they’re right when it comes to our business strategy,  but I trust them. For instance, is deploying a unique Web Fabric (PaaS) instance for each customer the right thing to do? I can’t know for sure, but Jared does, and right now that’s good enough for me. There’s a good plan in place here and seeing quick-thinking, decisive professionals working hard to execute it is what gets me really amped each day.
  5. Expect vague instructions that must result in high quality output. I’ve had to learn (sometimes the hard way) that things are often needed quickly,  and people don’t know exactly what’s needed until they see it. I like working with ambiguity as it allows for creativity, but I’ve also had to adjust to high expectations with sporadic input. It’s a good challenge that will hopefully serve me well in the future.
  6. I have a ton of things to learn. I knew when I joined that there were countless areas of growth for me, but upon being here now, I see even more that I can learn a lot about hardware, development processes, building a business, and even creating analyst-friendly presentations!
  7. I am an average developer, at best. Boy, browsing our source code or seeing a developer take my code and refactor it, really reminds me that I am damn average as a programmer. I’m fine with that. While I’ve been at this for 15 years, I’ve never been an intense programmer but rather someone who learned enough to build what was needed in a relatively efficient way. Still, watching my peers has motivated me to keep working on the craft and try to not just build functional code when needed, but GOOD code.
  8. Working remotely isn’t as difficult as I expected. I had some hesitations about not working at the main office. Heck, it’s a primary reason why I initially turned this job down. But after doing it for a bit now, and seeing how well we use real-time collaboration tools, I’m on board. I don’t need to sit in meetings all day to be productive. Heck, I’ve produced more concrete output in the last three months than I had in the last two years! Feels good. That said, I love going up to Bellevue on a monthly basis, and those trips have been vital to my overall assimilation with the team.

It’s been a pleasure to work here, and I’m looking forward to many more releases and experiences over the coming months.

Author: Richard Seroter

Richard Seroter is Director of Developer Relations and Outbound Product Management at Google Cloud. He’s also an instructor at Pluralsight, a frequent public speaker, the author of multiple books on software design and development, and a former editor plus former 12-time Microsoft MVP for cloud. As Director of Developer Relations and Outbound Product Management, Richard leads an organization of Google Cloud developer advocates, engineers, platform builders, and outbound product managers that help customers find success in their cloud journey. Richard maintains a regularly updated blog on topics of architecture and solution design and can be found on Twitter as @rseroter.

4 thoughts

  1. Hey Richard,
    Looks like this job fits you well. Congrats!
    Could you, please, blog more about the collaboration tools you are using? In my experience Amgen (it was your previous company also) was the best one in using such tools. Seems there are much more 🙂

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