Seven Years Later

7yearsatadobe Today marks my 7-year anniversary as an employee of Adobe. How time flies! When I first joined the company, neither the iPad nor Android phones were out in the market, and CS3 was the latest Adobe release.

Here’s a few stats from my time at Adobe to date:

Laptops: 3
Roles: 4
Attended Adobe MAX: 6
Miles flown for work: Over 100,000
Events: See photo – way too many!

I’ve made friends around the world, gotten to photograph Robert Redford, handed out t-shirts and swag at events from Amsterdam to Portland, and watched products launch and be end of lifed. Through it all, I still feel proud to work for Adobe alongside such an amazing bunch of individuals as my co-workers.

Here’s to the next 7 years!

Happy Adobeversary to Me

pic-4 As I sit writing this, the sun has just risen over the jetways of SFO. It’s been 3 days since I was last in this terminal. I’m heading to New York for yet another work event. And today is my fifth anniversary as an Adobe employee.

It’s been a pretty amazing 5 years. When I first joined the company, CS3 had just been launched. The tablet I am writing this blog post on didn’t exist yet. I was rocking a red Blackberry Curve for a phone and thought it was the best thing ever. (And actually it was pretty good. I can’t count how many times I dropped that thing and it just kept on working.)

Adobe’s business has changed pretty dramatically since then. There’ve been some days when I couldn’t believe I was lucky enough to get paid to do what I do, and some days when I wondered what the hell I was doing.

Throughout all the changes, and the highs and lows along the way, one constant has been the amazing people and customers I’ve had the pleasure and honor of working with. A smarter, more caring, and more dedicated group would be hard to find.

What the next five years will bring, who knows? One thing I do know is that I’m looking forward to the ride.

New Year, New Gig

I’ve been waiting not-too-patiently to be able to blog about how my job has changed in 2012, and finally I can.

I’m still at Adobe, and still focusing on community, but that’s about all that’s the same.

I’ve moved to a different part of the company and have a new focus. Instead of working with just one segment of the many communities at Adobe — the fantastic designers and developers who belong to the Adobe Community Professionals and the Adobe User Groups — I’ll be working to create a “Community Center of Excellence” for all of Adobe’s various community programs. Essentially, I’ll be applying Jeremiah Owyang’s “hub and spoke” model for social media in corporations to community.

via @jowyang

It’s a big challenge and an exciting one. There’s just one small drawback – having to step away from the community I’ve spent almost 4 years supporting. Being able to work with such a supportive, energetic, and engaged group of people has been both a privilege and a pleasure, one that I will miss very much.

Luckily, I won’t be going too far. And I also get the pleasure of getting to learn about a range of communities I haven’t had much interaction with so far – like the vibrant Web Analytics community that has grown up around Adobe SiteCatalyst over in the Digital Marketing side of the house.

On my one-year anniversary at Adobe, I wrote this:

What a ride it’s been.

I can’t find the scene on YouTube & don’t have time to rip it from my DVD, but there’s a snippet from early in Season One of “The West Wing” where new White House employee Charlie Young is watching his first Presidential TV taping from the back of the Oval Office:

Charlie: I’ve never felt like this before.
Josh: It doesn’t go away.

I know the feeling.

A lot has changed since then, but I still know that feeling. And as long as I do, I’ll continue to think I’ve got the best job in the world.

So here’s to a new chapter!


[730 = 365 * 2] Put another way, I just hit my two-year anniversary at Adobe.

Year One was a wild ride. Year Two, even more so. New role, new boss, new additions to the team, new product launches, and a lot more to boot. Sometimes it feels like the only constant is change. But I still love it.

Well, OK, maybe I don’t love the days where there’s 200+ email in my in-box and I’m up to my neck in to-do’s and meetings…. but only for a little while. 🙂

The tech world is going through a period of massive change on a lot of fronts right now. It’s a chaotic, fast-moving, and stomach-churning time to be in this business. I feel immensely privileged to be at a company that’s smack in the middle of many of the biggest issues our industry is facing at such a pivotal time.

Some say that “May you live in interesting times” is a curse. I disagree. For those of us who make technology our career, this transition period we’re in — from a desktop-based to a multi-screen world, bringing a whole new level of complexity and creativity with it — is the most interesting of times, and as stressful as it can sometimes be, I wouldn’t be anywhere else.

Here’s to Year Three and beyond!

Dear Apple – 1984 Called, They Want Their Video Back

Image via Wikipedia

I suppose I should start out by noting that I, like a very significant number of my colleagues at Adobe, am a big fan of OS X and Apple products. I am typing this on the Macbook Pro I purchased for personal use. The MBP for work is sitting on a table nearby. There’s two iPods and an iPod Touch in this room as well. The only thing I use Windows for is some HR stuff that doesn’t run well on the Mac. In short, I love OS X and I hope to keep using it for a long time.

So from the point of view of someone who’s a fan of both the Apple and Adobe platforms, it’s hard for me to wrap my brain around the vitriol lobbed against Flash by my fellow Mac users. And if you read the blogosphere these days, you might come away thinking Adobe is on the verge of a massive route, driven into irrelevance by a horde of iPad-wielding HTML5 developers. And some in the media, who always love a good “X is going to kill Y” story line, are following suit.

The reality is somewhat different.

One thing that frequently (but not always) goes overlooked is that as much as this is a technology battle, it’s also a business one. Pushing as much content through the App Store as possible is great business for Apple; and honestly, I don’t blame them for wanting to build their App Store into a massive (and massively profitable) content juggernaut. It’s far friendlier to their margins than the hardware business, even with their premium pricing, so why not go for a platform play?

Where I take exception — and developers should too — is with Apple’s “my way or the highway” approach to development. Adobe’s Flash is a very high-profile victim of this approach right now, but we’re not the first nor are we the only one. And I really don’t understand how a bunch of developers committed to embracing the “open web” can turn right around and accept the massively closed structure that is the Apple ecosystem. Is it cognitive dissonance, or just Stockholm Syndrome? Is this really the same company who so famously embraced the image of shattering Big Brother’s image? How did Apple lose its way?

When I think about why all this matters, I think about my 10 year old niece. She doesn’t know (or care) what Flash is. All she knows is that she loves playing Webkinz, and every time I come over to visit, she wants to play it with me on my laptop. If I handed her an iPad, she’d want to play it there too, and she wouldn’t understand why she couldn’t. Yes, of course, I can buy her a bunch of other games on the App Store, but that’s not the same thing to her, and anyone who says that it is has clearly never withstood the wrath of a pre-teen. 🙂

Apple needs a reality check. Once you get outside the San Francisco to San Jose corridor, you’ll find very few people who know or care what HTML5 is. Most people who don’t do technology for a living find our high-geek holy wars incomprehensible and boring. They don’t want to be locked out of content, and they don’t want to be told they should spend money in the App Store just to conform to Apple’s vision of the internet. They just want to use the sites, view the videos, and play the games they’re used to.

Oh, and 90% of them do not run OS X.

Go back and watch that famous “1984” video again — because it seems to me that Apple has become the very thing they were fighting against back then.

Adobe MAX – The Aftermath

The tidal wave that is Adobe MAX has come and gone for 2009 and I’m back home recovering.

I have attended a lot of industry conferences over the years and even helped organize a few. To me, what separates the good from the bad conferences is not the facilities, the speakers, or even the wifi availability, it’s the people. Obviously MAX is about an intense amount of information transfer — with hundreds of hours of sessions, keynotes, BOFs and unconferences — but it’s also about building connections within the Adobe community. The advent of MAX Online means that if all you want is information, you can get that without having to leave your home. The true value of attending MAX is everything else that is layered around those sessions.

Although I’m biased, I think the fact that one of the first things you saw when coming onto the show floor at MAX was a very large and comfortably furnished community lounge speaks volumes about the importance of building connections at MAX. And that lounge was never empty, not even early in the morning. Any time you came by, there were community members and Adobe staff filling the chairs and gathered around the tables; talking, working, Twittering, demo-ing, and much more.

A lot of other people have written extensively about the news Adobe released at MAX this year, so I’m not going to talk about that here. And if I tried to list all the people or all the cool stuff I saw this year at MAX I would fail miserably. Instead, I am going to call out two things that were particularly meaningful to me.

First, there’s this:

Community at MAX Keynote
Community at MAX Keynote

(Photo Copyright © 2009 by Kendall Whitehouse, used with permission)

I knew going in what the theme of the Day 2 keynote was, of course, but had no clue at all that the keynote would open with a display of Adobe User Group logos from around the world onscreen, so when I saw the screen it was a big warm fuzzy moment. The Adobe User Groups work very hard to build community in their local communities and it was great to see them included onstage. Many of those user group managers were not able to be present at MAX due to the cost of travel, but as one manager put it “At least my logo could be there!”.

And next there’s this:

CF9 Launch Gift

It’s been a very long time since I first sat down with a copy of ColdFusion and tried to figure out how to connect a database to a web page, and CF has had a special place in my heart ever since. That the CF team included me in the launch gift for CF9 means a lot to me. Thanks guys!

This post is getting a little long, so I’ll just wrap it up by saying that MAX rocked, and if you;re on the fence about going next time, just go. It’s worth it.