Ch-ch-changes

J Philip Faranda May 24, 2011

There has been quite a bit of discussion within Active Rain membership about the changes in the corporate team. I have to say that in an industry known for high attrition and where we see a ton of movement among our own, it is a little ironic to see any hand wringing. 

The years of working 35 years at one company and getting a gold watch at retirement and pension were over a long time ago. And, being an IT company, Active Rain Corporation is in an industry where movement is incredibly common. So why should we be surprised that people move on after two or three years? 

Steve the ManFrankly, I really don’t care who is at what desk in Seattle as long as they do their job. Don’t get me wrong- I like Steven Graham a bunch, met him in person multiple times, was mesmerized by his presentation at Raincamp, and I’ll miss him. But that is a different animal from losing confidence in Active Rain as an entity. As long as there is a community here and I can do what I do, I don’t care if Max Headroom replaces Steve. 

All things being equal, I like that I know and like so many people on the staff in Seattle. I met Kerrie, Kelly Pflugrath, and Kelly Clifford at the Atlantic City Raincamp and thoroughly enjoyed their great efforts and wonderful selves. It was a pleasure and added to my experience here. But if Kerrie announced that she was accepting a position at the White House or Kelly Clifford was moving on to the United Nations, as much as I wished them well, it wouldn’t stop me from blogging or create a crisis of confidence about the company. I have bigger and better reasons to participate and contribute than liking them. 

Here are some examples of what would be a problem for me:

  • An email to membership announcing changes to the fundamentals of the terms of service. 
  • A change in the moderation of user content that resulted in an increase in spamming, abusive behavior, or otherwise undermined the community.
  • Harvesting of membership for outside commercial interests or excessive upselling from the corporation. 
  • A fundamental change in customer service resulting in more frustration and fewer problems resolved.
  • Wholesale turnover or complete reorganization of departments to the point where you can’t keep track of who does what.  
In case you are wondering, all of these things occurred at AOL 10 years ago when I was a community leader in the wake of the merger with Time Warner. The sports message boards, and indeed all of the communities, went from being an online version of Cheers to a wasteland in about 18 months. At the source of it all were Time Warner suits who were oriented by accounting principles instead of an understanding of the online community they were overseeing. 
I don’t see that happening here. I see some changes in management for sure, and staff movement, but I also see a serious effort to maintain the heritage of the platform and keep the user experience as strong and improving. 
I consider myself an intellectual shareholder here. If I had the scratch, I’d invest heavily in both Active Rain and Redfin. But I don’t, so I contribute, observe, and watch. I still believe that those in charge are aligned with my own mission here, and that is why I don’t fear the current changes.  
We are in real estate. We know it is doubly hard to do our job concurrently with constrantly reassuring our clients that we’re in fact doing our job, so let’s get back to doing what we do, and let the folks in Seattle do their thing. 

 

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