Yesterday was my last day at Crash.
A little over three years ago Isaac emailed me one morning asking if I had a few minutes for a phone call. I took it, then a month later I started full time at Praxis. A year and a half later we split the company and I went with the Crash team.
I’m very proud of the things I worked on with both teams. Here are a few highlights:
- Set up a custom curriculum portal for the Praxis students
- Designed and wrote a completely new curriculum for Praxis students
- Set up a talent portal where hiring managers could view student profiles and decide who to interview
- Ran the marketing team at Praxis for a few months, where I learned a ton about marketing, instituted some targeted lead capture systems with ConvertFlow, and did a deep-dive on retargeting and conversion tracking. This led to capturing tens of thousands of leads while I was there, and even more after I left.
- Migrating a Hubspot CRM and email automation system to Salesforce and Mailchimp
- Rebuilt the Praxis website from the ground up with a custom WordPress theme
- Leading a focused week where the entire team worked together in groups to create a course, including writing content and shooting videos to accompany it
- Creating Discover, a personality-style quiz that tells you which role is the best place to start your career. It took a few months, and I figured out the traits, archetypes, and mappings from scratch. As of this writing, 12,500 people have taken it.
- Some of the people who went through a Praxis apprenticeship when I started (and who I helped coach!) are now hiring their own teams or starting their own companies. This is incredibly rewarding.
- I set a goal at the beginning of 2019 to learn Ember.js enough to commit meaningfully to the codebase. By the end of the year I was shipping fully functional features and fixing bugs. I had over 1000 commits to the codebase last year.
- All in all, I estimate that I directly helped at least 500 people over those three years change the course of their lives by helping them land an awesome job with high growth trajectory. This will have compound returns for them over the course of their careers.
In addition to the above, I learned a ton about:
- Conflict resolution
Morgan von Gunten wrote a nice goodbye for me in last week’s Crash Report.
I’m thankful for the time I had with these teams and what we worked on together. It was exactly what I needed at the time.
So why am I leaving?
I’ve been on the edge of burnout for the past 6 months. My role changed many times in the last three years. I’ve adapted rapidly to the changing needs of the company, wore many hats, and figured out a lot of stuff. That was fun for a while, then it got pretty taxing. I decided at the beginning of February that it was time for a change. I want to settle down into one role.
It is hard. I’ve poured my heart into these teams for the past three years. It is not an easy decision to walk away, but I think it is the best decision for me, my health, and my family.
I used the Crash philosophy to go land a new role. I did my research, crafted a personalized pitch, and sent the pitch in along with the regular application. I got an immediate reply and threw myself into landing the role through the trial.
Automattic was the first place I applied. Yes, I applied to a few other places as backup, but Automattic was the place I really wanted to go.
I have a long history with WordPress. This very blog started on WordPress back in 2008, and I’ve developed at least 30 WordPress sites since and helped Praxians with ~200 more. CookLikeChuck.com runs on WordPress, the Praxis curriculum portal runs on WordPress, and Crash’s content is powered by a decoupled WordPress instance. I’m a steadfast remote worker, and Automattic is one of the largest fully distributed companies, with 1100 people across 75 countries. I resonate deeply with their Creed and Open Source mission.
Thankfully, it worked out. I’m joining the WordPress.com Special Projects Team, working to empower people who are doing cool things, one website at a time.
I start at Automattic on Monday.
One response to “Goodbye Crash, Howdy Automattic”
I set up this blog on WordPress in 2008. In 2015 I moved it to Jekyll and back filled those old posts in 2018. Now I’m back on WordPress with the entire archive. Why? I want to post more and WordPress is more conducive to that.
With Jekyll I had to create a new markdown file with all of the yaml front matter I wanted and my automated templates were never quite right, then I had to get the Jekyll site running to preview the post (running the inevitable Jekyll and gem upgrades and troubleshooting issues with some plugin that broke), then run the custom build process I made to commit the changes, push them to Github, build the site, then deploy the changes to S3 and Cloudfront with s3_website, which is no longer being maintained. It was “rickety as hell” as an old family saying goes.
With WordPress, Pressable keeps core up to date for me, so I just open the site, write the post, and click publish. No messing around with build tools, no finicky yaml templates, and no annoying Ruby and Java dependencies to fight with.
Also, with WordPress, basic things like Search and Category Archives are available by default instead of something you need to hack on. The Plugin ecosystem is much better, too.
The Jekyll site build and all the tools I built around it was a fun project, but I’m glad to be back on WordPress. I recently started working at Automattic, which of course played a role in my decision to switch back, but I had planned to make the switch long before I had applied.
The speed of the 100% static Jekyll site served via Cloudfront was slightly faster than this WordPress site, but the difference isn’t big enough to matter to me. The Pressable CDN and object caching is pretty dang fast, and as I said above, I care more about being able to update the site faster and easier than I could with Jekyll.
I had big ambitions for this project: I wanted to build a new theme from scratch adhering to the WordPress-Extra ruleset for PHPCS and the starter theme my team uses. I kept putting it off, preferring to be offline when not working. I was itching to get my site migrated, so I decided to modify an existing theme with a child theme and focus my energy on the migration.
I essentially combined three sites into one.
Old WordPress posts: I’m a digital hoarder, so I still have the database for my 2008 WordPress site. I loaded it up in a local instance, ran some upgrades so it would work with WordPress 5.5, and then used the typical WordPress WXR files to import them to the new site. I temporarily put my old
/wp-content/uploads/folder on the server hosting cagrimmett.com so that the import would also pull in the featured images.Microblog posts: micro.cagrimmett.com was still live and I keep WordPress up to date thereJekyll posts: I heavily customized my Jekyll RSS feed to include all kinds of extra metadata that it normally wouldn’t. I then used the excellent WP All Import Pro to parse the XML and map it to WordPress fields and download and import the media. Attempting to do this and getting stuck? Shoot me an email and I’ll do what I can to help!Reading list
I built out a cool reading list feature in Jekyll using yaml data files and a template that grouped the books I read by year and displayed the count. I was able to rebuild it pretty quickly with a custom post type, custom fields, and two queries: One to group the books by year and sort by date read, and the other to display the counts.
Check out the reading page, my favorite page on the site!
I thought I’d have a big issue with redirects, but with some careful planning about 95% of old links just work.
By going back to the old databases from existing WordPress sites, I was able to use existing post IDs, which is great because my old links used the post ID permalink structure. Post ID permalinks redirect to the post by default, even if you have a different permalink structure.
For the Jekyll posts, I was able to match the permalink structure I had on the Jekyll site, category/year/month/day/slug, so those work, too. The only issue I ran into is that I had some uncategorized posts in Jekyll and Jekyll leaves uncategorized out of the permalink while WordPress doesn’t. So I installed the Redirection plugin to add some redirects for those and monitor 404s.
I do have a few issues left to clean up:
But first, back to regular blogging.
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