The Closing of a Chapter
Well, I've done it. I've resigned and next week will be my last week at AOL. After 5 years, 2 months, and 14 days, the end has finally come.
So what's next? Well, moving onto bigger and better things, of course. You might be wondering why someone like me would leave Nullsoft and Winamp in the lurch. At this point, I'd have to say that there are not many reasons for me to stay.
Over the past 10 months we've lost most of our team. Those of us remaining have become quite weary of the many 'compromises' we are asked to make in order to keep moving forward. At this point, I feel like I no longer have the power to make any positive impact on Winamp.
That said, we did accomplish a lot during the past 5 years. I still occasionally get emails saying 'wow, I didn't know AOL owns you!' and that's a testament to how successful we were in staying true to ourselves, our products, and our community. Unfortunately it was just a matter of time until everything changes.
For all of you who have stuck by our side, supported our efforts, evangelized our products, and loved us for our passion, I thank you. Winamp's success was the product of not just one company, or a group of employees, but that of an entire community created around a common appreciation for a few basic ideas and a love for music.
Alas, there are still a few of us left at AOL. I'm sure that David, Jonathan, and Wen, will do their best to keep Winamp true to it's users as long as they can, but the fact is the odds are against them and the next few months are definitely not going to be easy.
I anticipate that Winamp will continue to limp along for a little while longer. With minor bug fixes and updates for some time to come. Over the long term, I anticipate Winamp's identity will change to fit the goals of those at AOL who don't really care what Winamp means to the millions of our loyal followers.
Before you go off and start hating AOL. Stop. One thing that everyone has to realize is that AOL is a machine, just like every other big corporation. It consumes smaller companies in order to absorb them and use them for technologies, expertise, patents, etc. Every acquisition leads to the destruction of the acquired identity and their products. It's inevitable. Frankly, it really is a miracle that Winamp lasted as long as it did. In the end we all feel great about where we took Winamp and how we got there.
This might all be pretty overwhelming. You may be thinking, no, this is not true, it can't be. But alas, it is. You must accept it and hold on as long as you can before you too must move on.
We all know that cliche 'All good things must come to an end'. Nullsoft is certainly not excluded. The experiences I had here were tremendous. I learned so much about life, politics, people, and myself over the past 5 years. I've made friends that I will keep for the rest of my life. I even participated in a small part of the history of online music and I'm happy to have been in the right place at the right time.
I only hope that when people look back, they can appreciate how great Winamp really was. How much it really innovated and what it really did for this space. The MP3 revolution would certainly not have been the same without our efforts and the loyal following Winamp has.
I look forward to the future. I am excited to work somewhere new, on a great product, and continue to have the privilege of impacting millions of people's lives in new and powerful ways.
Perhaps, now is the time to get my Nullsoft 'llama' tattoo. I always wanted to get it, to serve as a symbol for this chapter of my life. I felt that it would be a great reminder of how much these 5 years have impacted me as a person and have influenced who I have become today. Yes, now seems just right.
*sigh* So long Nullsoft, I barely knew ya.