Elsewhere I have updated my bio to reflect my new job as head of web development for PayPal (which starts on 10/24). The 'elsewheres' being on my twitter profile, facebook profile, blogger profile, linkedin profile, etc. I also tweeted it and updated my status that I had taken this new role. However, those formats are shorter so I thought I would discuss what I am up to and why I am making this change.
As many of you know, I returned to Netflix after a short stint away and have just wrapped up being back a year. Altogether I spent about 4 years at Netflix and had some wonderful experiences and especially wonderful folks that I got to work with (in particular I am partial to those who worked for me).
The first stint at Netflix was a strategic role in which I had the opportunity to define & build the UI engineering organization there as well as guide the architecture and build the talent. I also helped build out the UX design team and especially worked closely with that team. The second stint had some of the same elements as I focused on the ECommerce side and we built out a UI architecture using Mustache (the java version -- thanks Sam Pullara!). And as a team we rewrote the whole code base back to front, internationalized and localized it in just 7-8 months and launched in 43 more countries. In addition, we were able to simplify the device UI code base to handle multiple devices, resolutions and input handling. Even with those good things it was one of the more exhausting experiences I have had in my career. And once the dust settle I quickly realized the role was becoming way too tactical and too focused on one aspect of a single product.
So I popped my head up and decided I would start looking for an opportunity (thinking I would make the move in 6 months or so). But within just a few days this awesome opportunity at PayPal showed up.
PayPal continues to be the world leader in online payment. And with the formation of x.commerce the position of PayPal as the payment provider and more importantly the payment identity for online transactions around the globe, I could see the huge upside to the business. Couple this with what is to come in offline payments (POS, mobile, tablet, etc.) and the huge resources of eBay as the parent company and I was sold on PayPal as the company.
Why this role?
While PayPal has all this goodness, they felt strongly that one thing they needed was a strong Web UI leader who could help define a nimble, open source based UI architecture, who could help bring design & engineering together, who could help simplify the process of getting design to life and who could attract top UI talent to the organization. That is a tall order. But as we talked about this role and my background we felt it was the right match. And just 2 weeks after the initial conversations I accepted the role as Sr. Director of Web Development.
Looking back at my career the most successful & enjoyable times for me have been when I am in the role of influencer or change agent. Back at Sabre I was able to found the common web & desktop UI engineering teams as well as the UX design team and influence many of the core products. At Yahoo! as evangelist I was able to influence dozens of their sites and evangelize great engineering & design internally & externally. And as I mentioned, the same for my time at Netflix. So this seems the most logical next step for me.
I will have a lot to learn as I join PayPal. There are many people there I look forward to learning from. I certainly don't have all the answers, but I do have the confidence that I will be able to join forces with other smart people there and at the right time know what is the next best step to take. It's a little like improv. I can tell you a lot of stuff I might try, but until I get there and get a deeper understanding of the needs & the assets I won't know what will make the most sense to try.
It takes a Team
If you work at PayPal, be sure to reach out to me and let me know who you are. I need others like you in order to make the right impact. Or if you don't work there but would like to join me somehow in this opportunity please reach out also. And while I don't know yet what my open positions will be, don't hesitate to reach out in an exploratory manner.
You can always find me at billwscott on all social networks and on gmail. Look forward to talking with as each of you that reach out to me.