Time for Change: Going Independent

Image of Mattias Geniar

Mattias Geniar, August 13, 2019

Follow me on Twitter as @mattiasgeniar

After 12 intense years at Nucleus, it’s time for something new: as of September 2019 I’ll stop my activities at Nucleus and continue to work as an independent, focussing on Oh Dear!, DNS Spy & Syscast.

The road to change

Why change? Why give up a steady income, health- & hospital insurance, a company car, paid holidays, fun colleagues, exciting tech challenges, … ?

I think it’s best explained by showing what an average day looked like in 2016-2017, at the peak of building DNS Spy.

 

 

Back when I had the idea to create a DNS monitoring service, the only way I could make it work was to code on it at crazy hours. Before the kids woke up and after they went to bed. Before and after the more-than-full-time-job.

This worked for a surprisingly long time, but eventually I had to drop the morning hours and get some more sleep in.

Because of my responsibilities at Nucleus (for context: a 247 managed hosting provider), I was often woken during the night for troubleshooting/interventions. This, on top of the early hours, made it impossible to keep up.

After a while, the new rhythm became similar, but without the morning routine.

 

 

Notice anything missing in that schedule? Household chores? Some quality family time? Some personal me-time to relax? Yeah, that wasn’t really there.

There comes a point where you have to make a choice: either continue on this path and end up wealthy (probably) but without a family, or choose to prioritize the family first.

As of September 2019, I’ll focus on a whole new time schedule instead.

 

 

A radical (at least for me) change of plans, where less time is spent working, more time is spent with the kids, my wife, the cats, the garden, …

I’m even introducing a bit of _whatever-the-fuck-i-want-time_ in there!

What I’ll be working on

In a way I’m lucky.

I’m lucky that I spent the previous 10+ years working like a madman, building profitable side businesses and making a name for myself in both the open source/linux and PHP development world. It allows me to enter September 2019 without a job, but with a reasonable assurance that I’ll make enough money to support my family.

How?

For starters, I’ll have more time & energy to further build on DNS Spy & Oh Dear!. These 2 side businesses will from now on be called “businesses”, as they’ll be my main source of income. It isn’t enough to live on, mind you, so there’s work to be done. But at least there’s something there to build on.

Next to that, my current plan is to revive and start building on Syscast. The idea formed in 2016 (the “workaholic” phase, pre-DNS Spy) and was actually pretty fleshed out already. Making online courses, building upon the 10+ years of sysadmin & developer knowledge.

Syscast didn’t happen in 2016 and pivoted to a podcast that featured impressive names like Daniel Stenberg (curl & libcurl), Seth Vargo (Hashicorp Vault), Matt Holt (Caddy) and many others instead.

I’ve always enjoyed giving presentations, explaining complicated technologies in easy terms and guiding people to learn new things. Syscast fits that bill and would make for a logical project to work on.

Looking back at an amazing time

A change like this isn’t taken lightly. Believe me when I say I’ve been debating this for some time.

I’m grateful to both founders of Nucleus, Wouter & David, that they’ve given me a chance in 2007. I dropped out of college, no degree, just a positive attitude and some rookie PHP knowledge. I stumbled upon the job by accident, just googling for a PHP job. Back then, there weren’t that many. It was either Nucleus or a career writing PHP for a bank. I think this is where I got lucky.

I’ve learned to write PHP, manage Linux & Windows servers, do customer support, how to do marketing, keep basic accounting and the value of underpromise and overdeliver. I’ll be forever grateful to both of them for the opportunity and the lessons learned.

It was also an opportunity to work with my best friend, Jan, for the last 9 years. Next to existing friends, I’m proud to call many of my colleagues friends too and I hope we can stay in touch over the years. I find relationships form especially tight in intense jobs, when you heavily rely on each other to get the job done.

Open to new challenges

In true _LinkedIn parlance, _I’m open to new challenges. That might be a couple of days of consultancy on Linux, software architecture, PHP troubleshooting, scalability advice, a Varnish training, …

I’m not looking for a full-time role anywhere (see the time tables above), but if there’s an interesting challenge to work on, I’ll definitely consider it. After all, there are mouths to feed at home. ;-)

If you want to chat, have a coffee, exchange ideas, brainstorm or revolutionize the next set of electric cars, feel free to reach out (my contact page has all the details).

But first, a break

However, before I can start doing any of that, I need a time-out.

In September, my kids will go to school and things will be a bit more quiet around the house. After living in a 247 work-phase for the last 10 years, I need to cool down first. Maybe I’ll work on the businesses, maybe I won’t. I have no idea how hard that hammer will hit come September when I suddenly have my hands free.

Maybe I’ll even do something entirely different. Either way, I’ll have more time to think about it.



Want to subscribe to the cron.weekly newsletter?

I write a weekly-ish newsletter on Linux, open source & webdevelopment called cron.weekly.

It features the latest news, guides & tutorials and new open source projects. You can sign up via email below.

No spam. Just some good, practical Linux & open source content.