I’ve worked for two people in my career that I’d say I’m absolutely loyal to. I use one analogy a lot to describe the standard: if they called me up and said “I need you to go the 20th floor and jump off the balcony” would I do it?
And when I say that, I’m kind of joking that they’d have arranged a water slide or a net or a helicopter rescue or whatever, but I’m also… I’m kind of not really joking at all.
I’ll tell a story here about the first, and how it connects to the second. When I worked at Expedia’s LuxTech division, building ccv.com and other fine work, about a year and a half in the new head of the company decided to shut us down, move development to San Jose, and fire all of us (well, we weren’t fired, per say… we were offered laughable cost of living increases they wanted us to turn down).
So my boss’s boss, Jeff Lubetkin, who’d been with Expedia since before the start, an old Microsoft hand who’d gone through the spin off, the acquisition, the whole thing, he took his list of twenty people and found them other jobs at Expedia.
Even when there weren’t jobs. Jeff didn’t look at the list of open headcount and match people. He knew the company and all the people in it so well he went to individual managers and hand-sold us, one by one. He convinced people who didn’t have open heads that not only did they need someone but hadn’t realized it yet, but that he had the perfect person for the job. And because they trusted him, they made things happen. Positions shifted, reqs closed in one place to open in another… the company shifted.
And then when it was all done, they didn’t have a place for him, and he was laid off.
Jeff found me a job with Kristina Miller, dong deep backend work and eventually building Expedia’s cryptography system. I used to say that I became twice the PM on joining Expedia and working on Luxtech, and I think I easily did that again working for Kristina. When she took another job, I followed, and she was promoted, and again, but even while not working for her directly I felt sure there was noone at work as smart, dedicated to her people, loyal to the company, and just good.
This week Expedia laid her off for no earthly reason.
I’m a pretty cynical guy, with low expectations for groups of people, but even I can’t fathom how these things happen. How do people who inspire absolute, unflinching loyalty from people like me get tossed aside? Why tear out your own heart and drop it in the garbage? If these are the people who can call nearly anyone in your company, say “I need you to quit your job and show up at 5th and Union next Monday” and have people immediately get up and hand in their resignations, don’t you put them in charge?