Note: This post is primarily intended for former Right Media/Yahoo engineering employees. I’m only saying that now because if you don’t fall into that group, you probably won’t care a whole lot about this post. Also, I wrote it on my last day, which was over six months ago. It’s probably something that needed a few months to sit while the dust was settling.
“Time for this ol’ hoss to move on”
I said that to myself in the style of Morgan Freeman, joking of course. It seems like I’ve been working at Yahoo for 30 years — and I don’t mean that in a bad way. I’ve just seen so many people come and go, so much change in such a short amount of time, I feel as if I’ve seen the full lifecycle of a company.
I worked on the Right Media UI codebase. I’m the last developer on what was once a formidable Right Media NY engineering team. If you’re not familiar, Right Media was a very successful ad startup that made an $850MM exit back in 2007 — but the bulk of the original employee base has since eroded away and deposited at various ad startups around New York City.
I arrived late in the game — 2010, when the full glory of what Right Media was had been absorbed into the deep, purple abyss of Yahoo. But that’s why I came to work here: I was fascinated with Yahoo and their adtech, intrigued by what must have been a cove of internet innovation nestled in an otherwise consulting or financially focused NYC. I’d never been inside a place like that. It was California in New York.
I’d bet that’s what Right Media folks were thinking back when the Yahoo acquisition was announced (aside from how quickly they could make it to the pay window). Yahoo at that time was still relatively free from now-common media criticism — It’s fingers soon to be dancing over the trigger of the Microsoft snub. Google? Facebook? Small beans. Impossible is nothing.
Man, what would it have been like? Fun? I bet. I sort of know the Right Media team — sort of. I know them through the various tickets, svn blames, and comments I’ve seen over my time here. It’s weird, I feel like I know the different people whose names I’ve seen but (mostly) haven’t met: ekozek, rsnyder, tjohnson, eyilmaz, agkov, jrohland, bok, cfarlane, dsomers — the list goes on. I’ve read wiki pages that describe tech talks and beer and all the stuff you’d expect of a startup. But it’s long gone.
I never knew that time — only imagined it. Today, what’s left of RightMedia’s NY engineering team could be reasonably compared to, well, the first 30 seconds of this. Ok, maybe that’s a bit dramatic.
I’m obviously at the wrong place if I want some sort of fast moving, continuous release, ready-to-take-over-the-world culture, but I love adtech. Big corps and global teams have their inherent overhead. That’s also why I happen to be moving on. So I’m the last developer ever to work on Right Media in New York.
That last point is something I should mention. So far you may have gotten the impression that RMX engineering is non-existent. It’s alive and well — just not in NYC. It’s in California, Chicago, Beijing, Bangalore, and a few other places. Just not New York, where it was born.
Anyway, this post serves as somewhat of a “Brooks was here, So was Red” note — Something to tell all those former RMX-ers what ever happened to that ol’ Right Media team. I’m the last one standing, and I’m headed out. I’ve got my own plans in the ad game.
Some things I’ve collected over the years (definitely true RM memorobilia):