SAY, Goodbye to Six Apart

I stopped working at Six Apart over a year ago. At the time, I didn’t blog about it because the departure was completely amicable and I knew I wasn’t sure what I would be doing next, so I figured I’d step back and watch the company for the first time as an outsider and see how it evolved.

It seems like that next step for the company is now clear: Six Apart’s become part of SAY Media, by being acquired by VideoEgg. I don’t honestly know much about the new entity except that they seem to be primarily focused on doing some clever things with ads, and are well poised to be very successful there, while they’ve also said they’ll be keeping Movable Type and TypePad running along. It’s certainly not the end of what Six Apart has become, but it’s obviously the end of a chapter, and worth observing.

Six Apart

For me, I’m taking an optimistic wait-and-see attitude about the new company, but I mostly wanted to mark the moment because the company that Six Apart has been has played such a big role in my career and my personal evolution. I learned a ton about business and life and products and communities in my time there, and made many of my closest friends through that work. So, as someone who is again just a fan, and as a person who was part of the larger blogging community that had such deep affection for a humble little startup called “Six Apart” when we first heard the name back in 2002, I just wanted to take a moment to note a milestone that’s a bit bittersweet for me.

I was surprised that a lot of folks didn’t seem to know I’d moved on last year, so it seemed appropriate to mention what I do now. These days, I advise a few startups and non-profits (see my about page), and split my time between two incredibly challenging and rewarding jobs:

  • I’m the founding director of Expert Labs, a non-profit organization that is trying to improve policy making decisions in the Federal government by helping them crowdsource policy ideas on newtorks Facebook and Twitter. Our first project was designed to enable regular citizens to share their expertise directly with the White House to help inform priorities in science and technology policy, and we plan to do that kind of thing for every other Federal agency if we can. The way we’re making that all possible is by having our (awesome, beloved) Project Director Gina Trapani lead a community in creating an absolutely ass-kicking new open source app called ThinkUp that anybody who reads this blog should probably be using.

  • I’m also a partner in Activate, the new strategy consulting firm that I’ve co-founded with Michael J. Wolf. Other than having an absolutely awesome URL, we’ve been mostly under the radar since our initialannouncement because we’ve wanted to let the work we do for our clients speak for itself when it’s time. But you can get a sense for what our style of consulting looks like by skimming some of the stories that have been written about projects like Gourmet Live for hints of the kind of really interesting combinations of tech and strategy that we get to collaborate on.

But all of these exciting opportunities that I have wouldn’t be possible without all the lessons I learned and relationships I made during my time at with Six Apart. On any given day, I’m trying to create a useful web app that people can install to make their communications more efficient, or I’m trying to help a media company be more thoughtful with the way it’s building a business on the web. All of that work is directly informed by having spent years exploring those ideas.

I’m enormously proud of that legacy, and I have to say thank you to my friends Ben and Mena Trott (Ben’s birthday is today, by the way; Mena’s was six days ago) for allowing me to be part of that story. I’ve got my fingers crossed that the new SAY does well to honor the incredible talent, spirit, history, passion, and promise of a company I will always care deeply about.