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Meet the new Community Manager at System 76 (me)

Hello, everyone! I've kept the Internet in a state of suspense for long enough, so today I am proud to announce that I have joined the wonderful team at System76 - the company creating computers born to run open source software. This is a big change for me and I'd love to take the time to walk you through how I got here and why I couldn't be happier.

As you know from my last blog post, I left Mycroft about two weeks ago in order to pursue other projects. The company was going in a different direction than I had originally envisioned. I decided it was time to leave and resigned my post as CTO and Community Manager.

Soon after announcing my resignation from Mycroft, I received a couple of very interesting job offers. None of them truly ignited the passion that I wanted to feel in a new role. I decided to make a trip to the Mile-High City to seek out the counsel of a good friend.

Carl Richell, CEO of System76, and his team have been trusted confidants since our first meeting at their Superfan event last year. It was very important to me that I visit the whole team, rather than simply speaking with Carl via Hangouts, because they are exceptional human beings.

After an 8-hour drive from our home in Lawrence, Kansas, my wife Mesia and I immediately went to our hotel and crashed. We stayed at the Grand Hyatt in downtown Denver. For those of you who haven't visited the city, downtown Denver is a glorious, pedestrian-friendly area where you could easily spend an entire day immersing yourself in the local culture.

The following day, I entered the System76 office and was pleased to see many warm, familiar faces. They greeted me like no time had passed since my last visit and made my wife and I feel incredibly welcome. Director of Marketing Louisa Bisio forced Mesia to try her chocolate almonds (which I'm sure wasn't too difficult, given her history of chocoholism) while I spoke with Carl.

I filled Carl in on my recent resignation, my personal life, and what I hoped to achieve. We spoke about System76 and Carl's vision for the future of the company. I am going to add a disclaimer here: I have always been a Superfan of System76 and their products. Following our conversation, my interest was piqued as I thought about the possibility of working for a company I've long respected. We went out for drinks with the team, and the stars began to align.

Drinks with System76

There was speculation at the bar from some of the team members that I'd already received an offer from Carl. Although this was not the case, the wheels in my head were turning and I began thinking about what I could do if I joined the team. They were very enthusiastic about the possibility and began to advocate on my behalf. Feeling very humbled by their complete acceptance of me, I realized that I would have to seriously consider the possibility if an offer were to be made. With everyone in high spirits, we took a round of shots and went to a hookah lounge.

Hookah Bar Fun

Hatty McHatface

Mesia and I had a fantastic night with the crew and received an invitation to visit Carl at his home the next day. Carl and his family have an amazing home that any geek could appreciate. His office can be sealed by a giant door made of wood and steel with exposed gears along the top that you can watch roll as you close the door. He has two Galago UltraPro laptops, which look perfectly at home on the minimalist desk. Thinking the office would have been a great place to talk, I was surprised when Carl's wife suggested we talk in the basement. Upon entering the basement, however, I understood immediately. This was where the reading nook, home theater, and - most importantly - the bar were located.

Carl and I shared with each other our vision for open source hardware and discussed our thoughts on the future of computing. Carl Richell is simply one of the brightest human beings I've ever met. (In fact, my historical interest in System76 has been directly linked to my respect for him as a person and as a visionary.) As we discussed our thoughts and ideas, we found there was a high degree of shared insights and passion. "What would you want to do at System76?" Carl asked me. You need only look at the title of this blog post to discover my answer.

Finally, we discussed the new System76 "secret lab" where the next generation of products is being developed. It is here that I became convinced that the next era of computers doesn't have to be confined to the conceptions of those in Cupertino. In a world of walled gardens, proprietary services, and locked-down products, System76 is doing the exact opposite. Something big is coming to free makers, developers, enthusiasts, and anyone else willing to color outside the lines. System76's open innovation is important to me and makes me proud to be a part of the team bringing it into the world.

Beyond System76's current line-up of awesome machines, they have something that separates them from any other device maker: a distinct passion and vision, and an infectious culture. After spending time with the team, I can see that the future is very bright for this company and I am thrilled to have joined them.

Want more? Read the post I made on the System76 blog.

Ryan Sipes

Ryan Sipes

Community builder, organizer, technologist, open source enthusiast, and all-around rabble rouser. Community Manager for Thunderbird.

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