It had been two months since Spawn demo’ed the working streaming video game system (with a custom game stick you plug into your TV and a Wi-Fi-based X-box like game controller) to its shadowy corporate overlords at Game Stop. Our lease at our office was up the Monday following the Friday demo, so after the demo was successful, the movers swooped in and packed everything up to move to the new office a couple of miles away.
So, Monday, nothing was setup. The two IT folk started unpacking and setting up the network again. Basic Wi-Fi and DNS was up by Tuesday, but nothing else worked for a week or two.
By the time it did, the office was dead. Game Stop had not had a game plan for a successful demo, and they did not know what to do. They did know, however, that they were not going to build a $100 million data center for us to move into the next stage of testing. Their excuse was that both Playstation 4 and Xbox One were shipping, and all of the cash they had to invest were going into those launches. They were going to try to sell us off to another company.
The game system was brought back up in about 3-4 weeks, so I played some games. By this point, the office had 3-4 people there most of the time….
But 3 more weeks later, I was usually the only one there. Others would drift in and out. And I had nothing to do. I did not enjoy the two games on our system that much, and got bored with them. There was no development work happening. No news on us getting sold…
So I set about to learn IOS programming for real, in the hopes of getting a job as a mobile developer.
At the beginning of August, I received a phone call from a staffing agency that placed technical people as contractors in other companies. The agency paid your salary, and provided something like real benefits after you worked with them for a while. I had a similar arrangement 15 years earlier when I had worked at Sun Labs. It was better than just freelancing in many ways, but you were still hourly and got no paid time off.
Still, they had clients doing IOS and Mac work, and that was interesting to me. It was another attempt to get back into full-time software development.
I had coffee with one of their recruiters at a Starbucks, and after a while, she asked if I would do Mac OS work. Sure! She probed me about me Mac knowledge based on the requirements provided by the client. She then asked for references.
I gave her the name of my friend who referred me to Rock Systems. He told me later that every time she asked about specific knowledge of something, he told her that I was a generalist, and self-motivated, and a quick learner, and that I had a good idea of the complete software development life-cycle.
Right about then, I had a scheduled vacation with my family visiting my mother-in-law out of town. Oxford Global Resources, the staffing company, found a position for me. So, I had a phone conference call with my prospective boss and the chief engineer, and they laid it out.
Klink was a partnership between a Houston server-based company, called Mezeo, and two Asian telecoms, one in Singapore, and one in the Philippines. They produced a Dropbox-like file syncing client. Two things differentiated them: They could get photos off of flip-phones, and they had a feature where you could sync files on your local hard drive that were not in the special “Klink” folder. The Mac OS engineer they had was going on an extended leave of absence, and they needed somebody to work while they were gone. If things went well, then this might turn into a permanent position.
I talked about my background for a bit, trying to stay away from the fact that I had four months of raw development experience in the last 14 years, and emphasizing my familiarity with the Mac and Cocoa development.
I got back to Austin that week, and went it and talked to my prospective boss at the office. He made me an offer on the spot after we talked. Wanted to know if I could start that afternoon! I told them I need a couple of days, and I would start the following Monday ( 9 days later).
I went into the Spawn office, and the General Manager was there, the one who told me I should brush up my resume four months earlier. I told him I was leaving, and that I was sorry I was only giving three days notice. He laughed and said, “Hey, at least you told me!” and wished me luck.
I thought about just starting the new job and seeing how long it would take Game Stop to fire me while collecting two paychecks. I did not want to risk running into legal problems with Game Stop, though, so I stayed honest! I wonder how many Spawn people did exactly that, though…
I was back as a software developer, baby!
PS Here are the companies I applied to and got nowhere with during this 2013 job search that I have not mentioned here. Some of them got back to me and we got as far as phone screens; others went nowhere.
- General Motors
- Advisory Board
- New York Yankees
- TRC Entertainment
- CA Technologies
- Dun and Bradstreet
PPS This product looks a lot like what Spawn was doing: https://store.google.com/us/product/stadia_controller. I hope it succeeds; it’s a great idea. Game Stop could have had the world…