I’ve finally decided to make the leap and dive into the unknown waters of independent consulting. I’ve been at Laszlo for almost 6 years and Friday is my last day.

I’ve worked on some innovative and ground-breaking projects at Laszlo. OpenLaszlo, an open source AJAX framework, was one of the first platforms to introduce XML markup for defining application UI, later followed by Adobe Flex and Microsoft XAML. I did a lot of talking about the Cinematic User Experience, which was defined well before I got there, but I like to think I helped explain it a bit. It has been fabulous to work with so many talented people who understood that animation could be used for effective user interfaces long before the release of the iPhone. I’m proud of releasing Laszlo Webtop and bringing a desktop-like experience to millions of regular folk across the world who use their ISP’s Webmail. The folks at Laszlo continue to do great work and I can’t wait till I can talk about some of the cool stuff that is still cooking in the labs. I may be leaving Laszlo Systems, but I will continue to be an active contributor to OpenLaszlo.

Why go solo? Why not join a hot new startup? (yes, even in this economy there are still companies getting funded) I expect I’ll settle down somewhere at some point, but not yet. Historically, when I pick a team and a company that I want to work with, I end up staying with it for 5-7 years. Long stints like that are unusual in the software industry, but it has suited my temperament. I generally choose to work with people I like and build software with technology I’m into. In the software industry, change is an inevitable part of the process — whether you switch companies or teams, your job transforms every year or two anyhow. This time, however, I want to explore a while before making a longer-term commitment. I want to work with awesome people, of course, but I’ve also got some of my own ideas I want to experiment with.

So what am I going to do?

MightyverseI’m excited to be working on a project to help bridge the world’s languages and cultures. Mightyverse has a big vision along with some small, initial steps that I’ll be helping with. Stay tuned.

Balsamiq MockupsI’ve known Balsamiq founder, Giacomo “Peldi” Guilizzoni, since our days working on “tincan” (aka Flash Media Server) and I’ve been following the development of Mockups from afar. I’m honored to accept a position on the Balsamiq Studios Board of Advisors.

typingI’ll be writing some code on my own and looking for projects where I can build great and useful software with fun technology, or whatever it takes to pay the rent. I’m not religious about the technology I use — I know OpenLaszlo inside out, but I’d be into learning Flex or Silverlight. I’m a Flash video expert, but I think it would be fun to build a Skype plugin.

In the fine tradition of Ted Leung’s Job Search 2.0, please drop me a line if you know of a project that seems like a good match for me: sarah _at_ ultrasaurus (dot) com. I’m open to a range of gigs from project requirements gathering and product definition/design to engineering leadership to writing code.

Also, to all my friends, colleagues and the readers of my blog who I have not yet met, please stay in touch. I hear that independent work can be lonely, although perhaps not as lonely as it once was with those friendly tweets in cyberspace. I’m looking forward to visiting my friends with offices who have invited me to co-work, and I’ll need to know the good SF cafes which have wireless and good working spots.

Wish me luck on my new adventure!

12 thoughts on “going solo

  1. Pingback: Sarah Allen joins Balsamiq’s Board of Advisers | The Balsamiq Blog

  2. Congratulations on joining Peldi/Balsamiq and for making the jump into the ‘solo’ world.

    I look forward to seeing what your next project is! Good luck!

  3. Congrats, Sarah. You hired me from across the country, and moving out here ended up being a pretty significant turning point in my life and career. So I appreciate that a lot. And I had a great time working with you (and everyone) at Laszlo!

    Thanks and best of luck.

  4. That’s always a tough decision, to move on after so many years. Laszlo has a great bunch of people, but I’m convinced that you’ll be successful as a consultant meet other great people. Good luck!

  5. Congrats Sarah! I’m sure you will end up having a good interesting time. I’m been building up my own little consulting business since June, after 2 years at an ad agency. I’m so glad I was laid off. Working with many other companies, mostly from my own office, has been fun and surprisingly profitable. Not always easy, sometimes scary, but it has worked out better than I expected. I even get to work on silly side projects like this one: http://joe-sparks-post-it-art.blogspot.com/2009/01/egg-meet-bread-aw-yeah.html

  6. It was great fun working with you at Laszlo, and I sure learned a lot by sitting down and doing code reviews with you! I will always remember first meeting you at Kaleida Labs, when you installed a copy of COSA AfterEffects on the Mac in the lab, which rocked my world! I am glad we crossed paths years later and worked together at Laszlo, because you’re so friendly and fun to work with, even though you Totally Get Shit Done!

  7. YEAH SARAH!!!! Enjoy the “gap” and walks in the eucalyptus groves.

    always happy to discover “experiences inconsistent with user expectations” in your code :) ha ha ha ha ha

    peace and ABUNDANCE!
    -a

  8. Awesome for you Sarah! The “between” time is often the most invigorating and exciting time! Chance to re-connect with friends and spend time exploring new things. I know whatever you end up doing, you’ll have fun and kick *ss.

  9. I look up to you for the dedication you brought to all of time we spent together, and now that i’m the left coast trying to walk in the same shoes (working at a “hot” startup and coding and working on requirements) i can say concretely that what I learned at laszlo I use everyday. Miss the code reviews. Good luck, and I know it will be fun for you at all times, you don’t strike me as the type to do anything half way!

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