A personal retrospective for 2022
As we come to the end of the year, I’d like to take an opportunity to reflect on my personal and professional growth in 2022. I’d also like to take a moment to define areas of personal & professional improvement for 2023.
This year be divided into two distinct phases for me — Linus and its acquisition by Celsius, and leading product at Co:Create.
1. Linus and its acquisition by Celsius
In May 2022, Linus, the company that I co-founded in 2019, was acquired by Celsius. Our team was brought on to build a SEC-registered crypto robo-advisor offering that would help diversify Celsius’s revenue. We successfully sunsetted the existing Linus offering and offboarded all Linus users, with the plan to start anew under the Celsius brand. Unfortunately, our efforts would be too little, too late — our team was with the company for approximately 3 weeks before Celsius froze customer withdrawals in early June, effectively shutting down all product operations. The company filed for bankruptcy about a month later in July.
It’s every founder’s dream to have a positive exit, but considering the circumstances I’d say this is bittersweet for me. I’m disappointed that our team never got the opportunity to fully execute on our vision of a crypto robo-advisor, but the acquisition process was a significant learning experience for me and I’m particularly proud of the outcomes we were able to negotiate for our investors and our employees.
A full retrospecitve on Linus may be in order in the future, as there’s way too much to talk about here.
2. Launching The Co:Create Platform
In the latter part of 2022, I joined Co:Create as Director of Product to help get their web3 protocol off the ground. It’s been a challenging but rewarding experience as I’ve had the opportunity to work with & grow a talented product team, and I’ve been able to develop soft skills related to managing individuals outside of product managers & engineers.
Driven by the question of “How can web3 projects sustain and scale their communities beyond continuous NFT drops?”, the Co:Create team’s general hypothesis has been that web3 projects can grow through the use of fungible tokens that have built-in utility. To test this, we shipped a set of smart contracts that help projects launch, custody, and distribute a community-owned ERC-20 token, along with a web interface to deploy, manage, and maintain those contracts — both of which we’re still in the process of learning from.
The biggest challenge for me so far has been related to juggling user-centered design in an engineering-focused product space. For a web3 protocol / infrastructure offering, it can be quite difficult to obtain solid information about user needs as the intended target audience — web3 developers — is still a relatively small and dispersed group, making them difficult to access for meaningful conversations. In the space, there’s also often times a tendency to prioritize technical capabilities over user needs, which can lead to an output product that’s highly complex and difficult to use. We’re still figuring out the right balance at Co:Create, but the team is making strides in the right direction.
Looking forward to 2023
There are a few areas of growth I’d like to focus on in 2023:
- Exploring processes for rapid, low-lift experimentation — Defining a hypothesis and testing it in a vaccuum is never a scenario encountered in the day-to-day life of a product person, so I’d like to explore team processes that enable and encourage experimentation during the product development lifecycle, with minimal disruption to the team’s workflow. This could be as simple as encouraging team members to think creatively and be open to trying new approaches when spec’ing out product, or it could be a more structured testing stage in the development lifecycle.
- Improving career-oriented conversations & mentorship with employees — As a natural executor, I often let 1:1s become tactical as I gravitate towards unblocking my team, but it’s not sustainable to always focus on outputs. I’ve got room for improvement related to providing guidance and support to team members as they seek to advance their creers and achieve their goals.
- Building my personal brand — So far in my career, I’ve shunned building a personal brand in favor of focusing on outputs, thinking that outputs speak for themselves. I’ve learned over the years that this isn’t always the case because no one will see your outputs if they don’t know you exist. A stronger personal brand can help me better attract top talent, influence stakeholders & customers, and create new opportunities for myself & my team. Writing / tweeting more, speaking at events, and building relationships with other leaders in the industry are all tactics which I’d like to dedicate time and effort towards in 2023.
Until next year 👋
As a I reflect on my 2022, I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to learn and grow. While there have certainly been ups and downs, the experiences I’ve had this year have prepared me for an exciting 2023.
I’m optimistic about the future of web3 and the potential it has to change the way we interact with the internet and with each other. I’m excited to continue learning, growing, and contributing to this exciting space as we move into the new year.
Thanks for reading, and happy new year!