10 Questions with Jason Goldman
If you have a blog or read blogs regularily and enjoy it, you can thank Jason Goldman. When Pyra, the company that developed Blogger.com, was bought by Google a few years ago it was very small group. Nearly everyone was named Jason. And they were all helping spark a revolution. For the last three-and-a-half years Goldman has been wearing many hats as Blogger Product Manager and yesterday he stepped down at Google just as Blogger Beta had launched. But before he plucked the last Post-It from his cubicle he sat down and answered a few questions with one of his biggest fans: LAist.
1. when did you start working for Blogger/Pyra?
November 5, 2002. I got there in the morning to meet with my predecessor. The first thing he said was "You should probably know that we just started talking to Google about getting acquired."
2. At what point did you start to realize the effect that Blogger.com was making on the Internet?
Blogger was well-established as a web phenomenon by the time I came on the scene. The first day I started work, the only thing I did was to answer emails in the Pyra inbox. This included everything from business proposals to feature requests to pleas for support.
It also included a lot of complaints about blogs that folks objected to for various reasons. It was in reviewing this category that I started to realize how widespread blogging had become. If there was enough content out there that someone's relatively unknown gay porn blog would get a random passer-by all hot-and-bothered enough to write in and complain, well, clearly Blogger must be doing something right. The disruptive power of the tool was so clearly demonstrated by the policy complaints we received. Pretty much right then I was in awe of Blogger and its users.
3. You've now worked at a start-up and one of the biggest and most powerful companies ever. Please give one good thing about start ups and one bad thing, and one good thing about a corporation and a bad thing.
I'd say immediacy is the biggest advantage of working at a start-up. All the folks you need are at arm's length and you can take bigger risks more quickly by virtue of being small. That feeling of "everyone who's here is here because of the same reason" is intoxicating and, as someone said back in the Pyra days, "we're all breathing each other's air." (I think it was actually meant as a "this is gross" thing, but I took it as a positive.)
The downside - at least from a product management standpoint - is that there are a lot of shiny things to distract you. When you're at a bigger company there's usually process or issues of scale that prevent you from zagging so dramatically. Of course, sometimes the zag proves to be the right path all along (Blogger itself was such a swerve).
At a big company there are also a number of pragmatic issues that are solved through shared infrastructure. As the guy who ran Payroll and Accounting for Pyra, I was never happier than when I handed off those duties ... altho' I ended up working on Pyra's taxes for longer than I care to admit.
But that same infrastructure creates a large number of external dependencies for your project. So you end up relying on people who really aren't personally committed to your team's goals. This can be frustrating.