One day, while I was working at Transmeta, the company announced its new President and CEO. A few days later, we found out what his first order of business was: to lay most of us off.
This was just fine with me. Going to work for Transmeta was a mistake. It was much too long a commute and, as should have been obvious from the start but was now crystal-clear, the company wasn’t doing very well. In the scant few months I worked there, they neither used me well nor taught me anything useful. In the end, the main things it did for me were to provide some security and stability while Andrea and I awaited the birth of our first child, and allow me to say that I was Linus Torvalds’ coworker for a while.
Anyway, at a surprise all-hands that morning, they asked us all to go back to our offices and await our turn to be called into a room to find out whether or not we still had our jobs. One by one I watched glum coworkers carrying boxes of their belongings out the door. When my turn came and I got the “bad” news – including that my being laid off was accompanied by a generous severance package – it was all I could do to conceal my glee.
I packed up my things, put them in the trunk of my car, and left. But it was still early in the day, and I was now facing weeks or months of homebound childcare as Andrea and I swapped roles and she became our main breadwinner for a while. I figured I’d better take this one last chance for a little time to myself. So on my way home I pulled off 101 to take in a movie at the Century Cinema 16 in Mountain View. It was K-19: The Widowmaker, of which the best that can be said is that it gave Harrison Ford the chance to replicate the dubious feat that his “movie dad,” Sean Connery, had achieved a decade earlier: portraying a Russian submarine commander, unconvincingly.
Fast-forward six years. I wrap up my (much more rewarding) tenure working at Danger when the company decides to sell itself to Microsoft, and I decline to come along for the ride. Danger wasn’t quite as far a commute as Transmeta had been, but it was still far enough that the same movie theater was only a stone’s throw away. So after I surrendered my security badge on my last day, I returned there for old times’ sake. The movie was better this time too: Cloverfield.
Seven years later, and my time at YouTube draws to a close. YouTube is even closer to home, but my work there does occasionally require me to be at the main Google campus in Mountain View – just a few blocks’ walk (or ride on a multicolored Google bike) from the Century Cinema 16. As I figured it, that movie theater helped launch me from Transmeta into a better gig at Danger, and again from Danger to a still-better gig at YouTube. If I broke this new tradition it would clearly be at my peril. So I arranged to be down at Google HQ in my last week and, before leaving for the last time, stopped at the theater for Amy Schumer’s Trainwreck (which was great).
And the theater did not disappoint: soon after, I began what turned out to be the most-rewarding job of my career to date, becoming a blockchain expert at Chain.
Chain lasted in one form and another until January of this year. (That’s another story, for another time.) And although the geography no longer made sense, I wasn’t about to miss a stop at the theater to mark the final day of Pogo. This time I saw 1917. And I once again credit this with landing me my current job at Coinbase.