A quick rundown of last year’s big events in my life: on 9 Jan, Laura gave birth to our twin boys Lafayette and Thiebaud, and all of a sudden we became a family of five. That really changed up the calculus of daily living for me, but it also made life so much sweeter. We were more exhausted and more frenzied than ever before in 2013, but now we have three amazing kids and, well, when it comes to parental pride, all the standard clichés apply.
If it was only that much change that the year had in store for us, it would have been enough. But it was just the beginning; within the first twenty-four hours after the boys were born, while we were still in the recovery room, I found myself signing deal papers for Etsy, Inc.’s acquisition of my company Mixel — on my phone, no less. By the end of January, I was a full-time employee at Etsy.
Then in late February, Laura and I closed on the purchase of a brownstone in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. The deal had been in the works since the previous August, so when it was finally done, we moved in within days and spent the next month or two just unpacking, making the new household work, and trying to cope with the punishing sleeping cycles of newborn twins.
Things settled down a bit for the next several months, until Etsy management and I decided to part ways at the end of July. In my six months there, I found it to be an amazing company with some wonderful people, but I never found a role there that I found fully satisfying.
By August, I was out on my own again, relishing the excitement of figuring out what was next. I was lucky enough to have lots of opportunities present themselves to me quickly. By the end of that month, I had started projects with a few early stage startups; began ongoing design advisory and strategy relationships with some established companies; collaborated on new products with friends (Facebox is an early one); started tinkering with new business ideas and pulled small teams together to get them started. (A lot of these projects are ongoing, and will roll out over the next few months.)
All along, I guarded my independence jealously. I have no complaints about the jobs that I’ve had over the past few years, but when I found myself in charge of my own schedule for the first time in seemingly forever, it felt truly liberating. I was able to choose a slate of projects and commitments that made every day fulfilling, with a minimum of entanglements and red tape, that let me work alongside old and new friends. It was the most fun I’ve had in a while, and by no coincidence, it was also the most hands-on design work I’ve done in years.
That’s why I was initially very hesitant to start working with Wildcard, an early stage startup located in Manhattan’s Chinatown. They had lots of work in front of them, and seemed to need a bigger commitment than I could make. But the CEO, Jordan Cooper, whom I first met when I raised money for Mixel, was persistent about getting me involved. So in September I started spending a few days a week at their offices, helping with their product design challenges. I quickly became enamored of the product, the team and the company — they have the right mix of talent, ambition, smarts and people to deliver a breakout success. In December, we worked out a deal for me to sign on for five days a week, and today, 2 January 2014, I’m on board as V.P of User Experience. I’m incredibly excited about Wildcard, and I’ll talk more about it in the coming weeks.
Last but not least, there was another major life event in late December: on 19 December, Laura and I got married. After five years together, three children and a new home, it seemed almost like an afterthought to go through the motions of getting our already extensive life together legally recognized. In spite of that, it was very moving for us and, as a somewhat jaded dude, it was surprisingly meaningful for me too. There had been so many major events for us in 2013, so it made a certain sense to squeeze in a wedding too before the end of December — I mean, why not? But getting married to the person I love more than I ever expected to be able to love anyone was huge. It helped me take stock and look back at the tumultuous year I had with fresh eyes. At times 2013 felt trying and incredibly turbulent, and I often wished for calmer waters. But now I realize that it was actually a run of incredible good fortune. I’ll count myself lucky if 2014 is half as good.