T-minus 7 days (August 26th)… until my final day at Oracle, that is.
On January 6, 1997, I launched my career in enterprise software with PeopleSoft. I spent my early days traveling around the US, Canada, and Australia as a PeopleSoft consultant, implementing PeopleSoft HR/Benefits/Payroll. I even wrote some COBOL, however, you won’t find that on my LinkedIn profile. After a few years as a nomad, I landed in various product development roles. I led a team that built a royalties and billing system for several major franchises, created a module for PeopleSoft HR/Payroll that allowed companies to terminate mass amounts of people (not one of my proudest projects… although most customers use(d) it for terminating seasonal workers), and helped build and ship the first versions of PeopleSoft’s EPM and Workforce Analytics products.
After helping build several products, I moved to an internally focused job and managed PeopleSoft’s internal web properties along with a team of talented web developers. Together we worked with the PeopleTools team to bring to life PeopleSoft’s Enterprise Portal. We ate our dog food (which turned out to be rather good). The success of our portal implementation landed me a job in our Sales Support team. My primary responsibility was to make PeopleSoft’s products demo **really** well. We did that by making our products work well and look **really** good so that customers can imagine how a real PeopleSoft implementation can function inside their organization. We were quite successful.
About a year after Oracle acquired PeopleSoft, Paul Pedrazzi approached me about starting up an innovation lab within Oracle. At the time, it seemed like a pipe dream. I was skeptical, but deep inside I had ideas burning holes in my brain that needed to be pursued. So, I agreed to do it. With that, the AppsLab was born. And from then until now, I’ve had the best time in my professional career.
The last 4+ years in the AppsLab was an amazing ride. We built highly successful products grown organically out of desire. Oracle Connect (Oracle’s internal social network) grew as rapidly as it was written. It was a great lesson for how to grow a community and how to connect a diverse set of people within an 80k+ employee company. Oracle Mix was also an excellent project that proved that it’s possible to bootstrap a top level web app within 5 weeks without hardware, support, and many other things — a major accomplishment within the confines of Oracle. I only wish we could have finished building out the vision of Mix before we had to hand it off.
The AppsLab is what every large company needs. Take a few passionate people who have a burning desire to build products that people love to use everyday, put them together, and see what comes out. Prior to the AppsLab, most of the software I wrote never got used by me or my friends (except for the PeopleSoft Portal). It’s difficult to build software you don’t build for yourself. It’s difficult to fall in love with software you don’t use. So, if you write software, make sure you can fall in love with it, otherwise, don’t write software. The ‘Lab will continue it’s marching orders and will continue to rock within Oracle. Jake runs a great team of dudes that still have that burning passion. Their latest product will again satisfy many users within (and possibly outside) of Oracle… stay tuned for that.
So, after 14+ awesome years, it’s time for me to end this chapter of my career. I’ve met hundreds of wonderful people over those years and will likely work with many of you again someday — it is a small community we’re in.
As for the next chapter — on September 6th, I start my new gig at Atlassian as a Developer Advocate — you may have heard of them through their awesome products, JIRA, Confluence, and a few others. I’ll be playing a role similar to what I did in my sales engineering days mashed up with what I did in the lab.
UPDATE: Just in case you didn’t see the name below the title above, I, Rich Manalang, am the one leaving, not Jake. Also, several people have asked if I’m relocating to Sydney. Nope. I’ll be working in Atlassian’s San Francisco office.