Joining Akamai

On May 11th, I’ll be joining Akamai. I would be lying if I said it was an easy decision. I waffled a lot (For the sports enthusiasts out there, it’s not entirely unlike Favre and retirement. For the rest of you, insert some clever Waffle House pun here.). The past few years of working for myself have been amazing! I’ve gotten to work on some great projects with some great people and have had a ton of fun doing it.

But if you’ve followed along you know that I am extremely passionate about improving performance on the web. Getting a chance push for better performance from within a company that handles 20% of the web’s traffic and is full of people who are after the same goal was too good an opportunity to pass up.

It’s a big change, but an exciting one. Akamai constantly talks about “building a faster, stronger web”. Sometimes a company has a snappy line that they use, but there is little evidence that they believe in it. That’s certainly not the case here. They’ve been very active in investing in better education, tooling and standards for the web (and recent moves like hiring smart folks like Yoav Weiss to actively work on web standards only further cements that commitment). When they say they want a stronger web, they actually mean it.

The role is a new one within their young (only one year old!) developer relations group. At the moment, it’s pretty undefined other than the goals of helping people make the web faster and helping Akamai figure out the best ways to enable people to do that. While the specifics will be defined over time, here’s what I do know:

  • The role involves a lot of me doing the things I already like to do. I’m going to be doing a lot of research and experiments around performance and finding ways to improve it. I’m going to learn a lot and share what I learn. The main difference is I’m going to have more time to do it now.
  • I’m almost certainly going to start being more vocal and active in the standardization process. There are a lot of interesting challenges ahead and we will need improved standards to help us overcome them.
  • I will not be marketing. Akamai doesn’t want me to do it. I don’t want to do it. On my list of “presentations I don’t like to watch”, product pitches sit right at the bottom just barely above “presentations that involve me getting hit repeatedly in the face.” The stuff I write and talk about is going to be very much like the stuff I’m writing and talking about right now.
  • I’ll still be working from my headquarters here in beautiful and frequently cold northern Wisconsin. Akamai has done a lot of work to make working remotely as seamless an experience as possible. There’s a lot of Slack in my future.
  • I will be working with some incredibly talented and friendly people. The dev rel team is small (its only other members are Kirsten Hunter, Darius Kazemi and fearless leader Michael Aglietti), but so very smart and so very talented! Beyond that, I’ve gotten to know many folks at Akamai over the years—some of whom I am lucky enough to call friends. There are a ton of incredibly smart and passionate people there. If you subscribe to the adage that “if you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room”, then Akamai is definitely the right room.
  • It’s going to be a lot of fun!

We’ve made a lot of progress pushing performance in the past few years, but we’ve got some serious challenges ahead of us as well. Some of them are cultural, some of them are educational, and some of them will require improved tooling and standards.

I’m super excited to get to tackle those challenges head-on!