Engaged, Inspired, and Ready to Build a Better Web

Automattic is a distributed company — we all work from wherever we are. Right now, “where we are” is 197 cities around the world: New Orleans, USA. Montevideo, Uruguay. Tokyo, Japan. Vilnius, Lithuania.

Once a year, we get together somewhere in the world to meet, work alongside, learn from, and laugh with one another in an exhilarating, exhausting week called the Grand Meetup. This year, 277 Automatticians descended on Park City, Utah, for seven days in mid-September.

I flew across the country to spend time in a mountain lodge with a bunch of strangers I met on the Internet. And they are wonderful. #a8cGM

— Chris Hardie (@ChrisHardie) September 16, 2014

We introduced ourselves to new colleagues, reconnected with coworkers we haven’t seen since last year, and worked on ways to make WordPress.com even better. And of course, lots of us blogged about the experience, in words and images.

We were blown away by the brilliance and generosity of our colleagues…

I’m grateful to have met so many Automatticians from around the world who brought such kindness, curiosity, patience, fierce intelligence, creativity and humor to the time we had together. I’m grateful to have learned about their hobbies, families, personal journeys, quirks, pet peeves, amazing skills, unmitigated geekiness, and brilliant senses of humor.

- VIP Wrangler Chris Hardie

We marveled at the range of conversations we had, from the sublime to the absurd…

Here are some of the things I talked about this week:

  • Scottish independence
  • Taylor Swift
  • Goats
  • Sexism
  • My children
  • Other people’s children
  • Infertility
  • Tattoos
  • Swing dancing
  • Whiskey
  • Javascript
  • Waffles (lack thereof)
  • VideoPress
  • Houston
  • Leadership
  • Fake morning talkshows
  • Mario Kart

Happiness Engineer Zandy Ring

We soaked in the natural beauty of Utah…

Early morning takeoff, by yours truly.

Early morning takeoff, by yours truly.

And some of us got up close and personal with the wide Utah sky…

Happiness Engineer Jeremey DuVall realizes he's just jumped out of an airplane.

Happiness Engineer Jeremey DuVall realizes he’s just jumped out of an airplane.

We learned from one another, and had fun doing it…

I learned how to analyze data in Python with Carly, and went skydiving with Prasath. After discussing common security vulnerabilities with Anne, Cami and I plotted a podcast about absolutely nothing, and recorded part of our first episode…

If you asked me four years ago if I thought it were possible to enjoy working, I’d be dubious. If you asked me whether one could ever genuinely love and respect all their coworkers, I’d hesitate.

Over the past four years, the people of Automattic have demonstrated to me that it’s possible to do work you love with people you love. It’s not common — not yet — but it’s possible.

- VaultPress Eclectic Happiffier Chris Rudzki

We burned the midnight oil…

We worked, we played, we ate, we drank, we slept very little. We tried to make the world a better place, and if you think that’s me being dramatic you don’t know the people I have the honor of working with.

- Dot Organizer Cami Kaos

We took a lot of photos…

We had a week of perfect weather for a perfect meetp.
There are a lot of tabletop games at Automattic meetups.
(Seriously, a lot of games.)
We take ping-pong very, very seriously, too.
Meetup friendships make our online communication that much richer.
Mountain hikes are a great way to bond with colleagues.
Yes, we even get tattoos together.
Some of us managed to get up with the sun (or maybe we just hadn't made it to bed yet).
We sounded mighty yawps across the web (and the Wasatch Mountains).
We took to the water.
We did... whatever is happening here.
The backdrop wasn't too shabby, either.

(Images above from Happiness Engineers Stephen McLeodPam KockeAndrea Badgley, Dennis Hong, and Andrew Spittle; Creative Director Dave Martin; Code Wrangler Allen Snook; Designamagician Dan Hauk, Mobile Maker Aaron Douglas; Growth Explorer Luca Sartoni; Spline Reticulator Dennis Snell; and Chief Semicolon Advocate Michelle Weber, AKA me.)

On the final day, Automattic founder Matt Mullenweg led us in a toast that summed up the reason we’re all here…

I’m really grateful that I get to work with the people I do, and on the problems that we work on together. It’s far from easy, in fact each year brings new challenges and I make mistakes as often as not, but it is worthwhile and incredibly fulfilling. A few hours ago I gave a closing toast and teared up looking around the room. So many folks that give their passion and dedicate themselves to jobs both large and small, visible and unseen, to help make the web a better place.

- WordPress co-founder and Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg

And when the week was over, heading home was bittersweet…

This morning was filled with so many hugs (and maybe a tear or two). I told myself that I was looking forward to returning home. To my own bed (although the sleep I got in the silence of the Park City night was the best I may have ever experienced). To regular exercise and home cooking. To the routine of my everyday life. And I was looking forward to that. And even though I knew I would miss my colleagues (it’s happened every time I return from a trip), the weight of the fog of sadness still surprises me when it descends.

I read their blogs. I like their Facebook posts. I retweet their Tweets. And I miss them.

- Happiness (w)Rangler Lori McLeese

If you think you might want to work with this motley crew and join us in 2015’s mayhem…

2014-company-animated

we’re hiring. (And yes, you’ll get to make up your own job title, too.)

Filed under: Automattic, Hiring
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Related posts:

  1. We want you: Automattic is hiring in 2013
  2. Five minutes with Kathryn Presner
  3. Five Minutes with Lori McLeese
  4. Five Minutes with Sendhil Panchadsaram
  5. Planet Automattic: Bytes from the People who Make WordPress.com

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