2023 — My year in review
I already wrote a pretty detailed account of the first four months of the year, so this update starts in May 2023. Right after I officially became a solo founder with Reform.
The big news this year was that our second child was born in July — a healthy little boy who’s always laughing and smiling. Having little kids is so hard, especially having more than one. They are lovely, I love them more than anything, but it’s much harder than I expected. Or at least in a different way than I expected. I feel like I do much better with our three-year-old than I do with a baby. When our oldest was a baby, I always knew that I was looking forward to him being a little older.
Overall, 2023 has been one of the most difficult years for me. I still don’t know how much or how to talk about it publicly, but our family went through some really difficult things in 2023. Even though this was a difficult year, we’re at a better place, and I think both my wife and I feel empowered by how we've responded to it. In private, I’ve been really open about this and have realized how many people I know have dealt with similar dificult things in their families.
Finally, we sold our summer house, or cabin, this year. For five years, it’s been my private little retreat, where I’ve gone to reflect, hang out with friends, go fishing, etc. It didn’t really fit our lives with two little kids, and we want to use the money for a down payment on a house in 2024.
When I wrote the life update post back in April, I was excited to be solo on Reform. I had accepted defeat, had had all the difficult conversions with investors and my cofounder, and felt like I was in a position to finally make some meaningful progress on the business, which was now more of a side project.
In August, however, I realized that I was in the wrong season of my life to run a product like Reform that required many 9s in terms of uptime. I felt very close to burnout — especially with all the other stuff I was dealing with. It became clear to me that Reform needed to be someone’s top priority, not the side project of a guy who just had a baby. There were a couple of times when this became very obvious, like when I had to leave the kids with my wife in the middle of dinner to go fix something on Reform. Or when I couldn’t really go anywhere without bringing my laptop in case I got an email from Sentry. “What are you doing?” I kept asking myself.
I realized I had to sell the business before burning out. I was running on the fumes. I told a friend (and my therapist) that I would give myself a month to try and sell. It wasn’t long, but I was nervous about what would happen if it took much longer. If by the end of September, I didn’t feel like I was talking to the final buyer, I would do a fire sale. I spent the first week or two reaching out to everyone who could be remotely interested. Competitors, partners, and anyone else I could think of. It led to some good conversations, but no one wanted to take it over without me joining, which wasn’t an option. In the end, I listed it on Acquire and quickly started talking to Arun from FunnelEnvy. He ended up making an offer, was great to work with, and in less than a month, we had closed the deal. One of the most exciting things was that FunnelEnvy ended up bringing in my old cofounder Bjørn as a contractor, making the transition really easy for me.
The best thing that happened this year workwise was joining Tailwind in a permanent role. Last year, I contracted on a few different projects, but as I mentioned in my April update, this year, Adam offered me a part-time gig helping out with “operations”. My job is to take care of all account and license related support, handle legal issues such as copyright and trademark violations, and other ops related things to help make the company run a bit smoother. It’s been going really well, and it feels like it’s been a win for everyone. Adam and the rest of the team are able to spend more time building while I take care of the support without much involvement from them, and I have a lot more stability financially than I’ve had in a long time. I guess that’s why people like jobs!
We had a few big wins this year that I helped out with. In October, Adam, Robin, and I went to Rails World in Amsterdam because Adam was a speaker. In order to dry run his talk, he had the idea to organize a meetup, which I was put in charge of with only a week left to plan it (in a city I’ve never been to). Thankfully, I was able to find an awesome company in Amsterdam that took care of almost everything (thank you Catawiki!), and with a single tweet from Adam, we had a hundred attendees signed up. The meetup went really well, and it’s something I would love to do again in 2024. We also made a lot of progress on the legal side of things. We finally dealt with a copycat that has been using our name for several years, made a lot of progress on protecting our trademarks, and got rid of a ton of pirated Tailwind UI stuff on GitHub.
I’ve learned way more than I expected this year — both from Adam, Jonathan, and the rest of the Tailwind team, but also from having to figure stuff out, such as the US trademark process, that none of us had any experience with.
Out of Beta
By the end of 2022, both Matt and I felt a bit done with podcasting week after week. We decided to go on a break. Then over the Holidays, we had the idea to keep recording without necessarily releasing. We recorded for 6 months, and we just released those recordings as our 2023 Async season.
Health-wise, I want 2024 to be better than 2023. Our three-year-old has never been a good sleeper (it’s finally getting a lot better now), so when the baby arrived this summer, we were already used to not sleeping through the night after three years of practice. My wife and I have both been severely sleep deprived this year, and while it’s not an excuse, the immense lack of sleep has caused me to be really bad about other things, such as food and exercise.
I had a scare this summer when I ended up in the hospital because of an asthma attack caused by pollen allergies. It was a really scary experience. That morning, we actually thought the baby was arriving, but by the end of the day, it was me sitting in the hospital with an oxygen mask on my face. That experience was a huge motivator for me to get back into running, which I did a ton over the summer. By September, my lung capacity was really good, which made me calm down a bit. I didn’t really keep the running up over the fall, though, so I really want to get back into it in the new year.
For the first time in 8 years, I don’t run a company. I’m tempted to start something, but I’m holding off for now. I love being on the Tailwind team, even though I'm kind of doing my own thing. I've booked a family vacation for January, and the idea that I could go without my laptop (in theory) is pretty insane. 2023 felt very reactionary. There were some huge things on the family, company, and mental health side of things that I had to deal with. My goal is for 2024 to become more intentional!