It’s official. As of today I have left the company I co-founded over six years ago as a wild experiment in organizing a tech cooperative across geographical boundaries.
There is a lot to say about it. I first question I am getting from people is why are you leaving Eggplant? You are Eggplant. Your nickname is EGGIE after all…!
The answer to that is really, really long and I’m still trying to work it out myself. The story gets ugly here and there and I won’t pretend it’s pretty.. but the large-picture is that ultimately Eggplant was an experiment. It had never been done before. It hasn’t been done since. We had no peers and we had no role-models. We had a ton of inspiration, talent, and ambition to change the world. That was enough to cruise on for 5 or so years but ultimately the challenge is too great for me. I’ve been the driving force behind Eggplant for far too long and am ready to hang up my hat. Here is how the challenge stacked up:
We were trying to create workplace democracy and a cooperative amongst a group of anti-capitalist geeks that were living in every corner of the world using primarily text-based communication methods (email, chat). Oh, and not one of them had a lick of business background. Ah we learned as we went and managed to to overcome most every obstacle, but really I think that if I have learned anything after six years it is in order to have true workplace democracy you need to be together. In a room. Face to face. Maybe eating pizza and laughing. If I were to try again I would do it no other way.
I can’t believe we made it this far.
This too has been an exhausting and sometimes impossible venture. It has been really heartwarming and inspiring at times. I’ve loved everyone I’ve worked with in one way or another… there have been many wonderful people involved here. We have even inspired many, many people to follow our lead. However, I think that it is time that I hang up my hat and close the door on that big purple vegetable.
At three different times in the history of Eggplant we have identified that fostering workplace democracy in a virtual environment is really tought to do. We keep identifying it, and alas, it keeps defeating us. It’s really bit us in the butt this time. Well, add me to the pile. I’m baba-ghanoush.
As far as I can tell the remaining three members of Eggplant (Jessi Berkelhammer, Micah Anderson and Linda Setchell) are going to keep plowing ahead with things. There are some great projects lined up and lots of fun assets to play with. I hope they do well with them.
I might have more to say on the subject as time goes on. For now I’m looking ahead and am in love with the idea of working alone for a while. I’ve been having fantastic day-dreams about spending time going clickety-click on straight-up design projects. I’ve got some good ones brewing, too. And then there is a really fun web-app I’ve been dreaming about for two years that might get to see the light of day…. Let’s hope so.