Rebrands, Acquisitions, Layoffs, Oh My
Today marks 4 weeks from when I got the infamous email that said I would be part of the 8% og GoDaddy that were being laid off. Since then, I’ve been hearing 3 common sentiments from everyone:
- “Oh wow. How could they lay off one of the most critical members of the Pagely team? RIP Pagely.”
- “Do you want to come work together?”
- “What’s your next adventure?”
My responses have been largely along the lines of “I’m open to chats with anyone interested, but I’m not 100% sure what I want to do yet”. Because of that, I’ve been spending the last 4 weeks taking care of myself, getting projects like this new site wrapped up, and doing a ton of whiteboard work to figure out what my next move will be.
The Last 2 Years
To put it lightly, the last 2 years have been stressful. Quite stressful.
About 2 years ago, we started work on the new Pagely rebrand. Partnering with Struck, Dave Amirault, myself, and a few others at Pagely set out to create a brand that truly highlighted Pagely’s strengths - it should be straightforward with no BS, authoritative, unique, and fully utilize my copywriting skills to make a bold statement.
After all of the initial decision making was made on what the brand would look like, it was time to build it. Naturally, being the primary person who was already managing all of our public-facing sites, I assumed the role of technical lead.
Thankfully, I didn’t have to build it all out myself. Pagely contracted Justin Sainton (the man, the legend) at Zao to be the primary developer on the project, while I would handle things like migrating existing content, building out components, getting infrastructure ready, testing, sanity checks, etc. Basically, covering as many gaps as I can and doing what I do best - being the glue that holds everything together.
(P.S.: See that fancy WebGL-powered wave animation across Pagely’s website? That glorious, fully interactive 3D space was me.)
While it was a ton of fun and something I’m incredibly proud of, it came with a whole lot of pressure and all nighters to bring our dream to reality. I was ready to unveil the new hotness, then take a well-deserved break; I needed it.
Unfortunately, that break that I needed never came. Mere days after we were celebrating our beautiful new look, it was announced that Pagely was joining GoDaddy - a company that I’ve had quite strong feelings about for as long as I can remember. I was well aware of how they treat their employees, customers, and acquired brands - the opposite of why I joined Pagely.
As I walked through the various stages of grief I realized that I had a few options:
- Walk away, leave hundreds of thousands of dollars on the table, and look for another job.
- Take the job, boil my job down to a set of core responsibilities, and otherwise “rest and vest”.
- Take the job and see if I can change GoDaddy’s ways from the inside. Maybe I could help them bring better prducts and services to the world.
I opted for the latter.
Although I knew it would be a long, hard battle, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Being a much larger corporation, I knew there would be red tape and convincing to do, but I never imagined just how much.
Nonetheless, I pushed on. I inserted myself into conversations, led initiatives, and chased down every opportunity I could find to transform GoDaddy’s WordPress products into valuable assets - assets that position GoDaddy as partner in their customers’ success. All while making sure that Pagely remains the authority in the enterprise WordPress hosting world.
While I did manage to inspire change thoughout the company as a whole, that might be what led to my inclusion in GoDaddy’s layoff of 8% of its workforce.
Unlike startup culture, corporate culture seems to put a lot of emphasis on false morale - celebration of lackluster value and initiative planning over critical thinking and revolutionary wins. There are pockets of great people who believe like I do, and I certainly found them amongst the sea of beige, but in the end, the leader of the revolution is going to be the first one with a target on their back.
If I would have treated it like “just a job”, sat down, shut up, and not taken risks, maybe I would still be there. Maybe I would still have the almost 6 figures in un-vested stocks that I earned from the acquisition. Maybe I would have had a much easier job. But one thing is for certain - I would be bored out of my skull from being just another cog in the machine.
That ain’t me.
The Last 4 Weeks
I’m fortunate enough to not have to wonder where my next paycheck is coming from - yet. With the layoffs, GoDaddy gave everyone 3 months of paid administrative leave, plus 2 weeks severance for every year served. Since they counted my time at Pagely, that gives me a total of 5 months of pay.
After all of these years of going full throttle, especially the last 2, I finally have an opportunity to regroup, recharge, and become reinspired. The past 4 weeks have been exatly that - take time to myself to relax, enjoy life, and think about what the future holds.
I finally deployed this new site, rearranged my office, drafted new ideas for future products, chatted with a few big companies and colleagues, and put up some new high scores on my home arcade; all with a clear mind to think about what I should to next.
It’s been wonderful.
The Next 30 Years
I wish I could tell you that I know exactly what I have planned. Truth be told, I still don’t know. But I’m getting closer to it every day.
So far, I’ve narrowed it down to a few different options.
One possibility is that I build my own agency. Considering my proven track record across every facet of the WordPress space, especially in premium enterprise and developer-focused products, I can offer a full range of services and products.
I love coming up with creative solutions that maximixe the impact of every penny spent. I love new challenges. I love seeing others succeed. This would be a great way to do all of those things.
The downside is that it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense financially. It’s going to take a whole longer than 5 months to book enough continuous work to replace my salary. Adding on things like health insurance and other costs, it gets even tougher. This would have been easier if the layoff hadn’t taken away my unvested shares, but it is what it is.
Conceptualizing and building products is what I’m really good at. I naturally see all of the angles, analyzing everything across development, marketing, sales, support, and everything in between. Building a SaaS or other product makes a lot of sense.
Plus, I could build the product during any downtime while doing client contracts. The client work might even spark product inspiration.
But launching a new product also means a lot of work to build, market, and sell it. The recurring revenue would be there over time and I’m confident in my abilities, but I do have weaknesses - weaknesses like design that I would have to contract out, furthering the financial risk.
Maybe I just get another job.
For most people, this would be the abvious choice. I have an impressive resume, proven expertise, and a ton of connections. I won’t have any problems finding a job.
The hard part would be finding the right combination that checks the right boxes:
- What do they do?
- What value do they hold?
- How do they do it?
- What can I own?
- Can they afford me?
I want to build something great, whatever it may be; whether it’s for myself or as an employee. I want to go to work every day, excited and inspired, just like I was at Pagely.
That said, over the coming weeks, I’m going to be prepping my resume and seeing what’s out there for me. Who knows, maybe I’ll be impressed. Maybe everything will be a bad fit and it’ll reinforce the other options. Whatever it is, I think it’s a good next step.
The Next Moments
Regardless of what route I take, I plan on blogging here a lot more. This site was an absolute blast to make. I have so many ideas for different ways to make it a unique experience, and I know I’m going to have a ton of fun while doing so.
If you’re an employer and think we’d be a good fit, reach out. If you’re a solopreneur and want to build something together, let’s chat. I’d love to hear what you have to say.
If anyone has any ideas or helpful advice, let me know in the comments.