Outpace Core Offer Engine team stickers
Core Offer Engine team stickers featuring our Trello icons, designed by Jessica Kerr

On Thursday Outpace Systems laid off two-thirds of its development team (including me). It was a sad day for me, because the engineering culture at Outpace was really something special, and I’ll miss it.

What made Outpace unique was the full-time remote pairing. What made it work was the incredible quality of the team. Although I’d been working remotely for more than five years when I was hired, I’d done only occasional pairing. I was used to working primarily on my own and I viewed full-time pairing with some trepidation. I figured I’d either love it or hate it.

Happily, I ended up loving it–and I believe that’s mostly due to my colleagues (both within the small Core Offer Engine team and across Outpace generally). They were all excellent developers, but they were also great people who were a pleasure to work with. Their diversity of background and experience meant that every day I learned something new, and their commitment to software quality was a revelation in an industry that tends to value speed over understanding. It was an environment that made me feel like I could do work at a higher level than I’d thought possible.

Outpace put the lie to the idea that distributed teams don’t build community. Though we only met up in person once or twice a year (and I had a number of coworkers whom I never met at all), between Slack, pairing, weekly “Learn You a Thing” talks on topics from test.check to Pixie, and our daily “stand-down” (an informal end-of-day Zoom chat), I felt more connected to my team than I’ve ever felt working in an office. Within hours of the layoffs, people had started a new Slack team and a Google group to keep in touch and were gathering in Zoom to say their goodbyes (sadly, this all happened while I was on vacation and traveling without access to a computer, so I missed the Zooms, but a colleague who was there called it the “best layoff ever”).

If you’re looking for great, thoughtful, well-rounded Clojure developers, you have an embarrassment of riches at the moment. Another colleague said a few weeks ago that there were no duds or mis-hires at Outpace, and she was right. I was lucky to work with these people, and you’d be lucky to hire any of them.

April 6, 2015