Jonathan LeBlanc - Developer Advocate

Technology Prototyping and Evangelism

Goodbye PayPal, Hello Box

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I joined PayPal back in August of 2011, and after almost six years with them, it’s time to say goodbye. As of today, I will no longer be a member of PayPal, and will be taking on a new role come Monday.

These past years have been a wild ride. I joined during the days of, after leaving Yahoo’s developer evangelism team. We had a small developer evangelism team that was trying to build a developer platform for all forty some odd eBay companies, so we definitely had some monumental tasks.

During my time on that team, I heard about a new group that was springing up to have devoted developer and startup outreach for PayPal, led by a guy that I didn’t really know other than by reputation from helping to create the innovation and developer teams in Europe. I reached out, had a chat with him, and saw eye to eye on what we wanted to build (he gave me a 6 month trial to prove myself ;)). We both took a chance on each other, and that became my home for the next four years. I truly treasure those years, starting as the first person on the team in North America, building out one of the most focused and innovative teams that I have ever worked on, along with a group of tremendously talented individuals.

With changing company priorities, the need for a strong startup and developer team also changed. When I left that team, I was again lucky to join another innovative team at the company, heading up a developer operations role that was more internally focused. We worked on new systems to help the experience of developers, and target fixes for any deficiencies in our existing APIs and systems. I suppose it serves me right, but I ended up working on working on fixing the same issues that I was complaining about for years in my prior roles. The universe is all full of irony, but I loved it all.

Lessons Learned

I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything. I had a lot of people who put a lot of faith in me while I was at PayPal, helping me to grow as a developer advocate, engineer, manager, and leader. Those teams were special because of the people, full of amazingly driven, talented folks that constantly pushed me to be a better person daily.

I remember saying once that I never wanted to be a people manager, until I really had no choice. Once I created my first team, I can honestly say that I loved watching their successes, how they handled their failures, and how they grew. I was constantly proud of everything they were able to accomplish as a team. It was a strange feeling, and one that I didn’t expect to have.

I was able to grow as a leader and build a much deeper understanding of the many levels of developer advocacy and innovation engineering, and understand how to better fit this career into the needs of a company, building a symbiotic relationship between groups, people, and company values.

What’s Next

As of Monday, I’ll be joining Box as their director of developer advocacy. I see in what they’re building what I loved in my past groups, driven people who want to do something great. As I met more people within the teams I’ll be working with, I was constantly surprised at how many people I already worked with at other companies, other initiatives, and random events. It was a great lesson to reinforce the fact that you should always be kind, work effectively, and treat everyone with respect, no matter how small you think your interaction will be for the future.

With this change, I’ll also be moving out to Austin, Texas. Before you ask, I already have a backlog of about a dozen people wanting room and board for SXSW 2018 :).

Cheers to the next adventure!