Well, if you are reading this, you probably either work for Automattic or have worked in the past, and so, you probably already know: I no longer work for Automattic myself. I know a lot of people are kind of shocked: So am I.

I didn’t want to write this post until all the paperwork and different money transfers were done, because as you may understand, my trust in the company is not sky-high right now, but I think everyone who were surprised by my sudden departure deserves an explanation. Especially because I don’t think it’s fair that the way the company usually deal with these things let the weight of my sudden and abrupt leave on myself.

Let me paste the post I wrote for Automattic HR to post for me in farewellp2, explaining what happened. They politely declined to do so, so I’m sharing it here:

On Wednesday, May 24th 5pm CET, HR pinged me to join a call about "Tumblr restructuring", and when I joined, both my HR rep and the head of HR were there. Long story short, I got noticed that I was being laid off. My proxy and slack access were revoked once the call was over. The reason I was told for what was happening was "You are not aligned with the direction of Tumblr", that changed to "you are also not aligned with the direction Automattic needs to take to face upcoming industry challenges", after I asked if it was a tumblr issue, why I wasn't being moved to a different division instead of being fired. I wasn't on a PIP, nor I've ever been in one, or even had any complain about my performance. I didn't got any warning, nor there was any previous conversation about my position being at risk in any way.
It has been an honor to work with y'all. This is my personal email: xxxx

So, if you have read that previous paragraph, now you know as much as I do about why I’ve been fired. During the 45 minutes call with HR I tried repeately for them to give me speciffic instances of what they meant with “not being aligned with the company direction”, but they declined to do so. To be clear, I never, ever, in my 8 years in my career in Automattic, had any review that wasn’t possitive. The last review I got from my (then) lead included this paragraph:

He's highly exceeding the expectations we have for all Automatticians. Javi is a role model for MANY in Tumblr and all across Automattic. He's vocal, he has opinions and shows other the path to expressing openly what their thoughts are, not only within the company but also outside the company. I really believe Javi to be one of the most prominent and knowledgeable people in Automattic that takes the time to bind and generate connections among divisions within the company and the outside, effectively generating bridges that would otherwise not exist in a natural way.

So as you may understand, I found quite shocking to be fired that way.

In the last year the company management have taken a serie of decissions, both about forcing certain product features and about changes in the working conditions of Automatticians, that didn’t resonate with me. And yeah, as a tenured employee that really, really, believed the “Communication is Oxygen” motto, I had expressed my opinion, respectfully and laying out the reasons for such disagreement, in our (internally) public conversations. Because Automattic was supposed to be a place where disagreemnent was welcome and openly discussed.

Even when I disagreed with any decission, I always done my work and “disagreed and commit”. I did a good job with my assigned tasks, and routinelly took extras on myself. And never, ever, in eight years in the company, got any kind of review that was less that great.

Even so, my slack access was cut less than a minute after my call with HR ended. I was still in shock, looking at my screen blankly, when I saw slack getting offline in my secondary screen. My email was disabled about an hour after that, even if I explicitly asked HR to give me some time to download things like my payslips and personal stuff I had around (like links to shared google galleries with meetup photos and such, which now are lost forever for me). My team lead and ex-lead found that I was out because they were having a call together that afternoon, needed to ask me something, and when they tried to ping me, they saw my slack account was disabled. So yeah, my team lead found out at the same time as everyone else. I had PRs waiting for review in the internal github instance. I was, literally, in the middle of several slack conversations that will never be finished now.

I spent 8 years of my life working for automattic, and since I disagreed with management a bunch of times, they decided to have the distributed version of having security walk me out of the building from a meeting room. I’m very disappointed by how they have managed this, but in a way, makes it clear Automattic isn’t the company I loved working for anymore.

For those of you asking, I’ll be ok. I got a pretty decent severance (keep in mind the spanish labor law is pretty decent in that sense, specialy for cases of unfair dismissals) I can’t tell you about because I signed something that prevent me doing so. So things will be ok.

I don’t know if I’ll keep this blog for long, so you can find me at https://www.tumblr.com/jv, or https://mastodon.social/@_jv_. Or you can email me at javi.public.email@gmail.com.

I deeply appreciate a lot of you, friends, and I’m proud of a lot of the things we have built together. So let’s keep in touch!

One thought on “farewellp2

  1. Ah bummer. Yay for severance money at least. Hate to see a good company change direction like that. I am sure you will find a good job, your work ethic and ability to communicate with users were visible at tumblr even from the outside.

Leave a Reply