It has been officially announced at work, so I guess I can post it here now too: I’m changing jobs. After a year and a half of working at Cisco, I’m heading over to TripAdvisor (TA). It should be an interesting change, going from a massive company (60,000 employees) to a small one (~150 employees), 12-14 month release cycles to 2 week release cycles, and working on VoIP software/hardware to working on a website. I’m a bit nervous, but also very excited.


TA is in Needham, MA, so my commute will be about 9 miles and 10 minutes shorter. It seems like a great group of engineers, a comfortable work environment and apparently, a very solid revenue stream. They are redesigning their site and adding new features focused around the latest web 2.0 wave, including social networking, video, and the like. For example, a bunch of people already have TA’s “where I’ve been” application on Facebook, which is a map where you put pins on places you’ve visited.

The interview with TA went well - a good variety of personality, experience and technical questions - and as usual, I came out of the interview knowing more than when I came in. I also had a second interview with them where I met the company’s VP and CEO, which was cool. Of course, it made me laugh: at Cisco, we all feel “privelaged” to watch the CEO (John Chambers) on IPTV. And his visits to the Boxborough campus, which happen once every few years, are special events.

Why am I leaving Cisco? Cisco has treated me very well, I work with a lot of smart engineers, I have a great manager and I’ve put together some cool projects. I’m not miserable and would still recommend Cisco to a lot of people. There really isn’t one major thing that bugs me, but if there’s anything I can complain about, it’s that Cisco isn’t really a software company. Their bread and butter is hardware and most of the processes are tied into it. For example, release cycles are so long that software is often obsolete before it goes out the door. We spend an enormous amount of time planning a project and seem to refuse to accept that you just can’t plan & predict everything. All the internal websites and tools look like they were built circa 1996 and add a huge amount of overhead to everything we do.

Many of these are a result of being a huge company. Many of these are constantly improving. But the software industry moves real quick and it takes an agile company to do something truly cutting edge and impressive. You can call Cisco a lot of things, but agile is not one of them. I’m young, motivated and it looks like TA can provide the kind of fast paced environment I need. I think it’ll also be a great way to see how an Internet company is run. Of course, the big offer I got from TA helped the decision along as well.

I was also told that TA’s standard starter package for a new employee consists of:

  1. Macbook Pro
  2. 30” display
  3. iPod

Not sure how I feel about developing on a Mac—I’m sure I’ll get used to it—but #2 and #3 sound just fine. My mind is already racing with ways to improve the TA website. For example, I think it would be cool if the website had a “trip planner” section: a place where you can enter each of the destinations, how you’re getting between them, the hotels you’ll stay at, restaurants to eat at and so on. You can use it to plan the trip as well as tie in your reviews, pictures and videos when you come back. Other people should be able to comment on it, suggest improvements, ask questions and so on. You could store each set of travel plans in a “wishlist” of dream vacations and users should be able to rate them, with the most popular trips visible on the front of the site.

At any rate, it should be interesting working on a website that gets ~2 million unique visitors a day. My work will be visible to the world and my mom will finally be able to see what I do. Hell, up until recently, she thought I worked at the other Sysco—you know, the food company. Trucks would drive by and she’d proudly point out to her friends “that’s where my son works.” Oh well.