Archive for March 11th, 2007

Lost Hedgehog

I quit my job Friday.

I’ve been working at Jobster for nearly 3 years. I was hoping to make it 4, at least when I started out. I was under the delusion that I had gotten into an academic work cycle, with 4 years as the ideal milestone to make sure all systems were go and all motivations were in place. I made it 4 years at Avogadro/Openwave before deciding my time was up. This time I didn’t last 3.

There are plenty of reasons why I decided to end my tenure at Jobster, some of which I will reserve for a later date when my perspective is tempered by time. Certainly, my recent eye issues haven’t helped. And the resignations of Patrick and Ray this past week, with whom I started at Jobster back in July ‘04, weren’t exactly motivating me to stay on board. In the end, I think I lost track of exactly what problem we were trying to solve. I was pretty sure I understood it when I started: we were building an enterprise-quality application to help employers find better prospects with less effort. And I thought we were doing a pretty good job of that, at least for awhile.

Pretty soon after I started, our CEO told us the parable of the hedgehog and the fox.

The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.

The theory was that great companies all had a hedgehog; they were very good at one thing. Over time, I think we lost track of that ideal, at least in the way I understood it. These days, Jobster does a lot of things. It still sells an enterprise sourcing app to big employers like Starbucks and Nike. But it also is a job search engine, a career site for small companies, a social networking site for jobseekers, and a free job board. I may have missed a few things. I don’t think anyone could claim that Jobster is really good at any one of these things. At least not today.

I’m sure there’s a new hedgehog in place that encompasses all of this functionality, and I’m sure there’s a strong plan in place to execute on it. But I think I got hung up on what I thought Jobster tried to be in the first place, not what it evolved in to. I fully admit I’m at fault for not keeping up-to-date on our changing vision. I think I got lost in the features.

That said, I’m pretty proud of what I accomplished during that time. Patrick, Ray, and I laid a foundation for the product that I think will remain for some time. I contributed to all aspects of the product, from build scripts to architectural design. I learned a ton during this time, both about the recruiting industry and about web application development. I made a lot of new friends, and I was able to work with many old ones.

But it’s time to move on.

In a subsequent post, I’ll talk about what opportunities I’m considering now. I’ve done enough ranting for tonight.

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