Going Home

2 minute read

photo of my son in the yard of an AirBnB house in Sebastopol, CA
Pictured: Not my actual home. (But my actual son.)

After 5 years, I’ve left my role as CEO at Safari Books Online, which is now part of O’Reilly Media. As O’Reilly works to fully integrate Safari with the rest of their operations, Tim O’Reilly and I agreed this was the right time for me to step away. This post provides some more context.

Anyone paying attention to technology, publishing, or education (and especially the places they intersect) knows that a lot can change in 5 years. That is true for companies like O’Reilly and Safari, and it’s also true for people.

My wife and I recently welcomed our second child, and events like that are opportunities for deep reflection. It’s a cliché to hear someone say they’ve left a job to “spend more time with family”, but I can say with certainty that sometimes it’s exactly true. Acquisitions mean that roles change — and in this case, as the Safari CEO role went away, the right choice was for me to go along with it.

For now, I’ll be working on building a life that can give me time to be more present with my kids as they move (so quickly!) through some very important early years.

I have no illusions that this is some unique path (indeed I’m happy to be joining what seems to be a growing movement), but perhaps someday this will become a more common option even among those without the resources of the corporate executive ranks.

I began my publishing career almost 14 years ago as the Reprints Editor in O’Reilly’s production department, and was fortunate to get the opportunity to move up through a number of challenging roles, including writing a book, architecting early versions of O’Reilly’s XML-based digital publishing toolchain, and later chairing the seminal TOC Conference.

When I took the CEO job at Safari, it was with a mandate to build an internal technology and product development capability that could evolve with the rapidly changing online learning landscape. The Safari team succeeded at doing just that, while profitably growing revenue for five years running, and the platform we built together was one of the reasons that O’Reilly chose to fully acquire Safari (they already owned 50% as part of a joint venture with Pearson).

O’Reilly’s strategy for integrating Safari is sound, and while I’m admittedly biased, I believe they are incredibly well-positioned to complete their transformation from a “publisher” to an integrated media company that’s fundamentally about helping people learn and changing the world along the way.

I am so grateful for my time at O’Reilly and Safari, especially all of the smart, helpful, generous and talented people I met along the way. Working at O’Reilly and Safari profoundly shaped my career, with extraordinary opportunities at every step of the way for someone who loves publishing, business, and technology.