In which an avocado and a visit to Open Source Bridge changed my life

This week was my first week at Othermachine, where I'm working on the software team responsible for the development of Otherplan, which is the GCode planning tool we make.

I'm absolutely thrilled to be working with some of the coolest people on the planet. For the first time in over a year, I feel that my voice can be heard in team decisions - of any size.

Last month I quit working for Ripple Labs. I had grown tired of the toxic culture that had developed there over time. Unfortunately, most of it was already in place when I arrived a year ago.

Ripple was my first job out here in the bay area, and unexpectedly so. Originally I had the intent to work for the job that sponsored my flight out. Things didn't work out so I just didn't get on the plane home, kicked ass in the Noisebridge reboot, and found a place for me in cryptocurrency.

I've had ample time since then to think about my experiences and compare them to what I commonly hear about working for startups where soft skills are frowned upon in favor of macho masculinity and whole-life-devotion to your job. Ripple Labs was no exception to that stereotype, as I experienced:

  • Wanting to switch teams as a means to get away from my manipulative supervisor two weeks in, with the alternative being quitting.
  • Being told by a manager from another team with a straight face that they get their way by bullying.
  • A coworker being fired under unusual and entirely uninvestigated circumstances
  • Verbal abuse from a coworker for being homeless during my first few months out here
  • My team lead physically sitting at my desk to walk me through writing a C++ class as though it were my first time, knowing full well of my 10+ year history in the language.

All of these issues were repatedly communicated to HR and any manager willing to listen.

Nothing had changed in the year I worked there, so I decided that the best way for me to affect change in the culture was to remove myself from it.

At Othermachine, I can't see any of the red flags I've since learned to recognize. I feel a strong presence of community and empathy throughout my coworkers. The count of marginalized people like me those who aren't is impressively balanced, and even on a micro scale of the engineering and manufacturing teams.

In short, I'm happy to be here. I'm excited to be doing C++ again, and completely stoked to be hacking with Qt. The Macbook Pro is a tool I'm not quite familiar with yet, but it is a learning experience. There's a big machine shop full of toys, and we're making a tiny little one of our own.