Today is the end of an era. After just over ten and a half years, this is my last day with Palantir.net.
The past decade has seen Palantir grow from a company of 5 to a company of over 30. From a company that wouldn't touch the GPL with a ten foot pole to a strong advocate for Open Source, Free Software, and Drupal in particular. From a company that did mostly subcontracting work for design firms to an end-to-end soup-to-nuts agency. From having two desktop screen sizes anyone cared about to an infinite scale of screens from 3"-30". From a world where IE 5 for Mac was considered a good browser to one where once again, the latest Microsoft browser is actually good. (Everything old is new again, I suppose.)
After ten years with the same company (which in Internet years is about a millennium) I certainly have stories. There's plenty I could say about Palantir, most of it good. :-) In the end, though, there's one thing in particular that has kept me here for so long.
Palantir.net is the kind of place that has your back.
I don't think we even have a bus to throw people under. The owners, George and Tiffany, genuinely care about the people that work here and the people we work for. That trickles down to the entire team, too. Palantir is the kind of place where, if you're stuck on something and need help, someone will make the time to help you out. If you screw up, your colleagues don't stop to make fun of you before figuring out how to help clean up the mess. If you need to shift hours or take time off for family, you take it. It's not even a question. We've had several new parents, both moms and dads, who have decided to switch to part time in order to spend more time with the new kid. Palantir's always gone out of its way to make that work.
That approach extends to our clients, too. Perhaps the best example was a project a while back that was, for various reasons, going badly. (They happen occasionally, even at the best agency.) We had an internal meeting with our dev team and senior management to figure out what to do. After laying out the history and the various problem points, the first thing out of Tiffany's mouth was "how can we help fix this?" Not looking for blame, not trying to penalize anyone, just straight up "let's collaborate and make it better."
After a bit more discussion, management asked if anyone on the team needed to step away from the project, as the relationship with the client had gotten quite strained. No one did. The tech lead on the project said quite clearly, "you can pry this project from my cold dead hands. I'm going to do right by this client." We knew our primary contact was under even more pressure than we were, and no one wanted to leave him hanging. So with a new approach in place, we got back to work.
It's not often that one looks around at colleagues and goes "damn, you people are fucking awesome people," but that was one of those moments. And it was in no way out of character, either. Not a bad place to grow up, professionally.
If you're looking for a place to burn midnight oil on a regular basis while slamming Mountain Dew, then Palantir's not the place for you. If you want a family company that lets you have a family, and works with family-friendly clients, well, they have an opening now. :-)
If you're looking for an agency to blindly do as they're told in order to cover their backs and avoid blame, Palantir's not the place for you. If you want a partner that will take the time to understand your needs and wants and then have your back as they work to give you what you need, there's no one I can recommend more than Palantir.net.
For my future employer, beware, I'm coming from a very strong company culture of mutual support, and I fully intend to bring it with me to my next adventure.
What is that adventure, you ask? Well, that's a topic for another post...