It Happened to Me


(This article also appears in Tucows Farm.)

Boss Ross walked up to me last Friday and said “Hey, Joe, do you remember back when you started working here, that you asked why developer relations fell under Research and Innovation and not Marketing?”

“Yeah…what about it?”

“Well, I didn’t have an answer then, but I do now!”


“What would you say about switching departments? To Marketing?”

At this point, I would have expected a “chest-burster” alien to emerge from Ross and mangle me, after which I would wake up. This did not happen.

Noting my hesitation, he said “Would you have any objections to moving to Marketing?”

I was about to answer when he threw in a little addendum.

“Oh yeah,” he said, “and liking working for me is not a valid objection.”

Well, there goes my only objection.

One of the nicest things about my job is the autonomy. As long as I meet the goals in the Operational Plan that I drew up with Ross, I’ve got pretty much full discretionary power over what I do and how I meet my goals. That’s a latitude that many of us working stiffs don’t get, and that in itself is an amazing motivator and one of the reasons I love my job.

“As long as I get to do programmer things — talking to developers, writing tech stuff, doing some coding and ‘keeping my hands dirty’ in the techie sense — I can’t think of any real objection. And Ken’s [the VP of Marketing] a great guy.”

“Better go talk to him, then.”

One of the functions of the Research and Innovation department was to identify a need, come up a service to fill that need, do the research, build a prototype version (or buy an existing solution) and help it through the transition into a ready-for-prime-time offering for our customers. Once the service was declared a ready-for-prime-time product, it becomes part of our mainstream product line and is assigned to a product manager.

The way we develop new services has recently changed a little, so the description above doesn’t accurately describe the way we’ve been doing things since last year. However, it’s a reasonably accurate way of describinghow Tucows got into the domain name wholesaling business and how products like Blogware were developed.

It may also accurately describe my position of “Technical Community Development Coordinator”. The TC/DC position, as I like to call it, is essentially another Research and Innovation department project. My job position — essentially developer relations — is still new enough that the first conference on the it was held only this February. I consider it to be like a prototype product; it’s been incubating in Research and Innovation and is now ready for prime time.

So there you have it: as of next Monday, I’ll be fully insinuated into Tucows’ Marketing department, complete with a change of desks to the newer upstairs part of the office and a new boss: Ken Schafer, VP Marketing.

My job focus will remain the same: I’m the developer relations guy, which means making life easier for developers who build on the Tucows platform. I’ll still be making sure that the information and resources that developers need are out there, acting as a bridge between the developer community and Tucows and even cranking out some code. The bonus will be that I’ll have the marketing engine to back me up (and more swag to hand out, too). I’m looking forward to working with Ken, Jacqui, Adam and Scott.

I’ll miss working with Boss Ross, with whom I’ve worked since Bastille Day 2003. He’s the guy who suggested that the company hire me as the developer relations guy and has been a great guy to work with. I couldn’t have made my job what it is today without his help. Although I won’t be reporting to him anymore, I expect that we’ll still be collaborating from time to time on various projects, and I’ve already roped him into a podcast for later this summer.

Next: Oh crap, I work in…marketing!

3 replies on “Re-Departmentalized”

I think the mighty Bill Hicks has something to say on the matter:

“Does anyone here work in advertising or marketing? Well if you do, when you get home take a gun shoot yourself. No bullshit, I’m not joking just do it. I’m just sowing seeds, one day they may take root.”

My first “real” technical job (I don’t count the tech support position at Dell) was working for Tivoli Systems (part of IBM) in… get this… Marketing. We actually had a group within Marketing called Technical Marketing that did all product demos, ran the public and some internal websites and all sorts of other things. And, to be honest, it was the best job I ever had (even since). I wouldn’t have traded that experience for the world. While I did have to put up with a lot of Marketing B.S., I also met some of the most interesting people in the company. Also, they threw the best parties. ;~)

In a previous incarnation of Tucows, I actually ran marketing for a while. It *was* a hoot. I also met a lot of interesting people and attended some great parties (Sushi for 1500 in the Baltimore Aquarium anyone?)

The thing I miss the most about working in marketing? The freaking amazing gift baskets that people would send you at Christmas.

To help fill the void, I’ve recently subscribed to Valleyschwag. Its not quite the same, but like a care package sent to a corporal by his mom, it does bring back fond memories! 🙂

Joey’s gonna do just fine. Not only is he one of the most creative people I know, but he has a great way of communicating just the right thing to people. Not only is he gonna learn a lot in the marketing department, but I suspect that if he plays his cards right, they are all gonna learn a lot from him too.

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