First of all I'd like to say congratulations and good luck to Brad Fitzpatrick on the decision
to make the big change and move on from his first job! As a co-worker and friend of Brad's I know he's making the best decision for him right now. Nine years is a long time to work on a single project, any project, and I've always felt it showed a certain stubborn (or masochistic) side of him to have continued to be involved for as long as he has.
When I first met Brad (21st birthday I think?) there was no way I'd have guessed we'd end up where we are today. Over the years I've worked on Livejournal as a systems administrator, gone through acquisition with Six Apart, eventually moved to San Francisco to extend my role beyond just that of a systems administrator, to my current position of Director of Operations Engineering for Six Apart. I'm extremely thankful for everything he has taught me directly or indirectly, and I have a lot of gratitude toward him for making all this possible.
Brad has done a tremendous job creating Livejournal and growing it from nothing, with the support from his family, his friends, his community and his employees. The people at Six Apart may not all have been there for the first purchase of a server, the invention of mood icons, the first power outage, the partitioning to user clusters, the horribly painful early days of implementation of memcached but some of us have!
Brad has always worked with a team of capable individuals, a group that over time was able to take on more and more of the responsibility for the community and the site. This includes decisions regarding support, engineering, financial, marketing and operations. Sometimes these decisions haven't always been the best, and we've certainly had to learn from mistakes. I have felt lucky to have had the support from Brad to help in technical decisions or problems when needed, but it has honestly been a long time since he was in a position of responsibility regarding the technical infrastructure of LJ. I'm sure it has been frustrating for him at times to not have that role, but the site has continued to run, grow and improve, in ways that he and I could never have managed between just the two of us before we joined Six Apart.
The notion that Brad has been the only major contributing force to Livejournal over the last few years is misleading. Six Apart is host to a large pool of talent whose contributions are utilized across all of our products - and other sites! Features added to Perlbal
originally to help block spam for Typepad is used to help throttle bots on LJ - allowing us to have the site crawled by spiders (good for search engines) but not impact performance. Ben Trott's work on TheSchwartz
is used to implement such features as instant notifications and the return of birthday reminders. hachi
is our resident MogileFS
expert and contributor, which we use across all our sites for reliable data storage. groknaut
has taken on the not so pretty task of wrangling an unruly collection of hardware gathered through the years and retrofitting our infrastructure to something more manageable and sane.
With a history as long and exciting as Livejournal - 9 years is a long time in the tech world - it is hard to get beyond feeling that we're always trying to catch up. With the latest addition of dormando
as our Mysql DBA I think we've got a better fighting chance. I'm at least glad to be rid of *one* of my many jobs. Livejournal had 700,000 users when I became the (only) Livejournal systems administrator
in 2003. At that time we were struggling to keep up with unprecedented growth. Today our servers are supported by a team of more than ten very capable and motivated members of an operations team in a 24x7 environment. We've got a dedicated group of engineers on staff who use the site themselves, who care about the same subjects we hear from our users. Work continues on developing the core technologies Brad and the people working for Livejournal helped create (Memcached, Perlbal, MogileFS...) and we'll continue to use these technologies for *all* of our products. Livejournal ran with a skeleton crew of developers and systems administrators for years, and I'm glad to see that - even with Brad leaving - we're continuing to make positive changes.
There is an assumption made by many that Brad has been in a position of management for Livejournal, but as he's written, this has not been the case for awhile. In fact, long time employee Brad Whitaker has been the very capable Engineering Manager for Livejournal for some time now. Brad Whitaker started working on Livejournal a bit before me (and before he was paid for it), and remains one of the most dedicated individuals I work with. That Six Apart has continued to acknowledge his contributions to the site, and by keeping him in a key position of influence I know that they continue to trust his experience as a manager, a developer, an employee as well as a user.
So I wish you luck, Brad Fitzpatrick, in your future projects and a very sincere thank you for everything you've done, for Livejournal, for Six Apart, for the Open Source community, and for me. While your leaving is certainly symbolic of a change in the Livejournal life-cycle, I don't fear this change - and I know we'll be able to continue to grow regardless.