Feb. 4th, 2009

litch: (Default)
I just woke up feeling the anxiety and frustration I used to feel back when I worked at postini. I'd forgotten about it until just now, I think I was reminded by the job interview I went to last week. I was asked a couple of obvious questions I did not respond well to; "why did you leave you last place" and "some up what your least favorite boss would say about you in one word".

Thinking about Postini, I said "difficult" and said something like I had gotten bored & then made an enemy of the new head of HR when I tried to change processes. I'm glad this wasn't a job I was really genned up for because that's just inane to say during an interview. Worse, it's not even true, I just internalized so much of what I was getting flack about.

The real problem is that 9-12 months before I got axed management had decided to zero budget continuing engineering. Any problems that were discovered were not going to be fixed, the programmers were assigned to new projects and any holes in existing code were going to stay there. But rather than come out and say that project management started playing games and closing bugs that had come up from support as "working as (poorly) designed". So we started to have to document in our escalations where we said it should work like that. Then they returned the bugs as "documentation errors". Of course they killed technical writing at the same time, so we eventually wound up creating a database of known bugs, where in our documentation it said it should work, new documentation that described actual behavior. As you might imagine this was geometrically increasing our workload.

The final straw was that they hired a new head of operations who hired a bunch of numbnuts who couldn't pour piss out of a boot with the instructions printed on the heel to be the operations staff. How bad were they? They made less than 50k/year in silicone valley. I was not very good about concealing my disdain for them or their boss.

Postini is a "software as a service", the customer doesn't buy anything you just point your mail at postini and they give you mail without the spam (mostly). But spam is not neutral, it is driven by people who are actively trying to get past any anti-spam service. So when you defenses don't change & the people you hire to man the barricades are inept it means the barbarians are going to get into the city more and more. Big customers started leaving and we were being flogged to do a better job of managing customer expectations & shape their perception of the experience.

A spammer would figure out how to get through or at the very least make one of our servers seize up (or worse stutter and do a Denial of Service Attack on someone's mail server from a T3), customer would call us, we'd confirm, contact ops, tell them where the problem was and what they needed to do and they'd not understand or deny anything was wrong. I started getting complaints from the ops team. I hung up on one idiot once and they said generally my tone was not respectful.

Customers loved me, I was great at solving problems, even the ops people in Europe liked me. But they didn't like my attitude and fired my happy ass 2 years ago today. 3 months later google bought them. The reason they'd zero budgeted engineering and hired sub-par server monkeys was to make thier balance sheets look shiny for the take over.

I lost a job I had used to love and had been so very damn good at. I was burned out and frustrated from a year of fruitless fighting. I've never really recovered from it.

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litch

May 2009

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