I, for one, welcome my new amphibian overlords

It’s been a roller-coaster year – a manic post-Xmas season, a most welcome second kid, a miscellany of stress-related and personal annoyances and the omnipresent, niggling, scurrying rat race that is going on in mobile as everyone and their dog has a go at competing directly with the iPhone or riding the social media tsunami and getting beached on the reefs of mass-market irrelevance.

And I’ve just changed jobs.

The length of time and the patience involved in making it all come together would be daunting (and, let’s face it, quite boring) to recount here, but the short version is that after eleven years and five months at Vodafone Portugal (neé Telecel), I had a great farewell lunch yesterday with a bunch of my closest colleagues and friends, turned in my gadgetry (including, sadly, my iPhone), did a quick(ish), but sadly incomplete tour of farewell round the building and, this morning, after an order of magnitude shorter commute, stepped leisurely1 into the Portugal Telecom headquarters and sat down at my new desk at SAPO.

Which just happens to be Celso’s old desk – an excellent omen, given that he’s my new boss and all (he, in turn, upgraded to a rather fascinating office that I think best never to write about for a number of entertaining reasons).

As you might expect, what lead up to this wasn’t an easy (or quick) decision to make, especially considering that I’m not getting any younger, have two kids (but slightly less than the usual amount of dogs, guppies or cats i.e., zero) and that regardless of my personal feelings and expectations changing jobs these days (and in a country where careers tend to be long, straight and conservative) is seen as more of a risk than an opportunity.

And considering the current state of affairs in the business world and Portugal’s widespread reputation of being one of the most inflexible and unrewarding job markets in Europe for both companies and professionals, I would be stark raving mad if I didn’t rate this as the best thing that could possibly have happened to me – even before the great welcome I got.

Most people would, at this point, wax lyrical about change and how it is a constant in the tech industry, moving on smoothly to reminisce fondly about their previous tenure. However, and due to my own rules, I can’t – although it’s impossible to leave people I’ve known for over a decade without thanking them for everything I’ve learned and the good fun that was had.

But I had to move on. I’ve been wanting to reset my career for a good while now, largely because long periods of immersion into any corporate culture (irrespective of company or industry) inevitably blunt your edge – despite having to part with some of my best friends (now scattered a bit throughout Europe) and some pretty interesting projects, I needed something completely different to do.

And, just as importantly, a completely different environment to do it in2.

So a year or so back I started to consider my options, starting with the extreme premise that I would leave the telco world altogether. This partly to prepare myself for the most radical change possible, and partly because that would be the easiest way to do a full-on reset: I looked into going into “pure” sales for consumer electronics, detouring back into business marketing (in tech, but outside telco), re-joining consulting outfits, etc.

But opportunity knocked and I simply couldn’t miss the (truly once in a lifetime) opportunity of joining SAPO because, amongst many other things:

  • For those of you not working in Portugal, SAPO is the best Internet business bar none. It’s literally the best (and highest stakes) game in town
  • Portugal Telecom relies on them (er, us) as a steady source of innovation
  • The organization demonstrably believes in creating and focusing internal know-how locally, instead of systematically farming out development and integration
  • As a result, people I know, respect and admire have been slowly gravitating there for years, to build some of the more polished stuff I’ve had to compete against in desktop, mobile and TV
  • If I didn’t do it now, I’d regret it for decades to come

So I, er… Hopped over. There are a number of physical, mental (and, I’m told, dress code) adjustments to make, of course, but I’ve got an interesting team and quite a few challenging things to do already – which, as usual, I won’t mention.

In fact, I don’t know what I’ll be writing about from here on, or in what language – this site was originally created as a sort of outlet for my urge to keep on the bleeding edge when I was doing Marketing stuff, drifted off into the wild west of web design for a while and later subsisted largely on my need to file away miscellaneous notes on arcane technical topics when I spent stints in Engineering.

It then turned into a sort of mobile browsing lab for testing phones (there are oodles of WAP and mobile hacks squirreled away in the cracks) and, of course, was all about the Mac until the iPhone changed the world.

Incidentally, and for the record, Apple’s music event today was a major disappointment for me, not just because of the lack of wireless iTunes syncing and backup for iOS devices or the balkanism in their content distribution model but also because someone has clearly been drinking far too much social media Kool-aid, shattering my illusion of Apple’s immunity to pointless hype. But hey, we’ll get iOS 4.2 in November, which despite a tad late, isn’t half bad.

I do know that I won’t be spending two thirds of my time speaking and thinking in English now (or the same percentage of time dealing with purely mobile tech), so I have to find a new direction of sorts – closing down the site won’t happen, but a change in what passes for an editorial line is a given, and the notion of getting a couple of friends on board to post links and short pieces is at least worth revisiting.

But it makes a pretty good testing ground for a number of things I have to get to grips with (including picking up the arcana of web design, my oft-neglected mistress) and I still maintain gigantic lists of tech resources of all kinds that come in handy nearly every day, so I think things might actually get a bit more interesting around here.

Oh, and did I mention the office is crammed with Macs, iPads, Android devices, and… Ah, nevermind. My own Mac has yet to arrive, sadly (a mini of ironic provenance and use is making do) and I have no iPhone now.

But more on that later. I have another amazing, fun new toy that I literally have to wrestle from my kid, if you’ll excuse me, if only because it makes quite a bit of noise…






1 Well, reasonably leisurely, given that today was also the first day of pre-school for my eldest, which is a bit more important in the grand scheme of things. Fortunately, everything went well there as well – the school’s still standing, at least…

2 And believe me, the environment is so completely different from what I’ve experienced for the past few years I’m starting to wonder what took me so long… And this just on the first day. A modicum of balance will soon set in, I suppose.

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