My Goodbye Letter to HashiCorp
I worked at HashiCorp for most of my 20s. I sent this note to a few mailing lists during my last week there in May of 2022. It describes my time working at the company up to that point and says goodbye.
I hoped it would age okay and only made some small grammar edits (and added a photo) from the original – but I'm publishing it now publicly because I think it does a pretty good job describing how important my time there was for my career and personal development.
subj: Saying goodbye for now
Here's a little note as I've spent about 8.5 years here and my last day will be Monday, May 2nd.
I met Mitchell and Armon both at a mobile advertising company in San Francisco where I had been working as the assistant to the CEO for a few years. I was 18, scheduling and negotiating office space and desk purchases right out of high school. I think I was perhaps a bit of an odd character to these very intelligent and educated engineers. In a tisch ceremony last year Mitchell described to the group my forcing friendship upon him as we worked together – I think this is apt (though I would suggest he was into it at the time). I have told stories of commuting home with Armon after work and asking him to explain programming concepts to me. You might now see the type of education I received at that age – different than most, but uniquely valuable.
Following our working together in San Francisco, I collaborated with Mitchell on a side business called IRCRelay (an IRC bouncer service). I wrote the APIs and admin UI while he strung together custom C++ and CFEngine to provision bouncers for customers. Throughout, he told me of his plans for HashiCorp, his conversations with Armon, and his latest expeditions in programming languages, systems, and automation. It's fuzzy to me who initiated the idea of me working at HashiCorp, but a few months later I was signing an offer as I returned to the US having been in Europe.
When I joined the company, there was no need to be in one place, credit to our early inclination to disregard centralization. Mitchell was spending a lot of his time in LA, Armon happily living in San Francisco, and I wanted to live in New York City. The plan had it that we were to work from these 3 places, and meet regularly in San Francisco.
In my first real Silicon Valley job as the executive assistant I had made a habit of spending a few hours early every morning at a cafe trying to learn to write code. Those mornings, my commuting lessons with Armon, contributions to Mitchell's open-source portfolio, our side business – it all had given me a reasonable degree of competency and confidence as a programmer. So my title when I joined was "Software Engineer", reporting to Mitchell. I had just turned 21.
Things unfolded somewhat predictably, with a lot of programming, a lot of trying to build products and experiment with the business. Early on it was driven by a desire to solve the companies own problems we had building various cloud services for Vagrant and Packer. Out of that came the tools we call a product portfolio today, but then, it was a handful of OSS projects we were churning out with hopes for impassioned users.
As time went on I drifted towards people management, something I had no experience doing. Learning about myself and the realities of management through that work, my stress steadily climbing. I vividly remember the first resignation email, hunched over my kitchen table feeling my whole body lock up, in total physical panic. My failure to make things right or to do right by them – to please and prove to everyone. The laws of Silicon Valley had us keep growing, hiring, building management culture and structure in engineering. That thrilling, relentless, proud expansion.
Hiring, and hiring, and hiring, release after release, the business coming up around us. Sleepless weeks and joyful celebrations, giggling in DMs, constant flights to San Francisco, a parade of (increasingly less ugly) offices, angry users on Twitter, angry customers in support requests, miffed customers on support calls. Writing security assessments for banks, explaining security incidents to the public, arguing about what product management is, debating escalation procedures, rounds and rounds of feedback on new websites, pages of process documents. Doubting candidates, optimistic hires, angry exits, appreciative promotions, happy team meetings, awkward silences, late night pages, early morning pages, mid-day pages. Dubious new leaders looking at my second-hand sweaters, friendly venture capitalists, bored venture capitalists, funding round blog posts, thousand dollar deals, million dollar deals, closed/lost deals.
All of this for me building up to our last few months as a public company and our new reality, a time for my contributions to end. I see so much new energy in our teammates, in our opportunities and challenges this year. A checkpoint for some in one of many with numerous deals and countless lines of code to come.
Thank you to my colleagues who taught me so much, who brought me such friendships and generosity. Too many names and faces to try to write down. People who bonded, listened, challenged, cared for me. Continue to build and find joy in it. I appreciate you letting me help.
Armon, Mitchell, and me in San Francisco, 2013.