December 30, 2020

2020 Year In Review

As has been my custom for the past ten years, I like to spend a bit of time at the end of the year reflecting on the year that has been, looking ahead to the year that is to come, and noting down these reflections for posterity.

Professionally

The majority of this year was spent building upon the progress we’d made last year with SpinupWP. We managed to double our customers and revenue, double the number of servers hosted with SpinupWP, and triple the number of sites hosted on SpinupWP. Overall it was a solid year of growth.

One interesting challenge I faced this year was taking on responsibility for hiring some more engineers for the SpinupWP team with my colleague Ash. Brad was busy hiring for other product teams in Delicious Brains but we needed some more help with SpinupWP. So Ash and I agreed to share the load and do some of the hiring ourselves. We came up with a hiring process, a trial project and got the ball rolling in February.

While this was great experience for my career, it turned out to be a long, drawn-out process where we basically became part-time hiring managers for months, doing lots of application filtering, code reviews, interviews, etc. Despite a failed hire in May (who lasted 2 weeks), we eventually managed to get a Senior PHP Developer on board in August (6 months later). Shortly afterwards we were able to hire another developer and have managed to hire some more developers since then. It was a grueling six months as we were still trying to do all of our normal work (feature development, bug fixes, support, documentation, etc.) at the same time as hiring but things eased up a bit once we got our first hire on board.

While all of this was happening, my big news for the year was slowly developing in the background. In March I was approached by Orman Clark about partnering with him and some other guys (Jason Schuller and JR Farr) to help them build a new project they had been cooking up. After some initial scepticism, I agreed to come on board and drop one day a week at Delicious Brains to be able to work on this new project.

So since March, I’ve been working one day a week on a new project called Lemon Squeezy. In August we announced our partnership, which we decided to call Make Lemonade, and things were going well until September when we did a bit of reflection and realised that me working one day a week on Lemon Squeezy just wasn’t going to cut it. After lots of deliberation and going back and forth on different funding options we eventually figured out a way of allowing me to work on Lemon Squeezy full-time! So at the end of November, with that strange mix of sadness and excitement, I took the leap and left Delicious Brains to go all-in on Lemon Squeezy.

I can’t say much more about Lemon Squeezy just now other than I’m hoping that 2021 shapes up to be a hugely exciting year for us 😉 If you want to follow our progress, or be one of the first to use Lemon Squeezy when it launches, make sure you sign up at www.lemonsqueezy.com and follow @lmsqueezy on Twitter.

As this year was so busy I didn’t manage to get much done in terms of side projects. I even shut-down and sold one of last year’s projects (Formstatic). However, I did manage to launch a new open-source CMS in November called Saaze.

Personally

Like everyone else, this year has been kind of a blow-out for us. We had lots of exciting plans for easter and summer including celebrating the arrival of our new niece, a wedding in Ireland and a company retreat to Lisbon/Porto with Delicious Brains. Sadly, all of these things got cancelled when COVID-19 showed up in March and shut the world down for twelve weeks. We still got away for a holiday in Keswick for a week in July but that’s been about it.

Instead, this year has turned into a year of patient endurance and being reminded to be thankful for the more fundamental things in life. Instead of focusing on the negative aspects of this year, I just want to mention that I’m very thankful that we’ve all been able to stay healthy and safe so far (we live in a county with one of the lowest rates of COVID in the UK) and that we’ve been relatively unaffected by the COVID restrictions due to our circumstances (I work from home, Fiona is a full-time mum, Joshua isn’t in school yet, my job wasn’t affected, etc). In many ways, the verses in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 have been a great reminder for me this year:

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

One unexpected aspect of this year has been how much more I’ve been able to serve the church with my technical expertise. COVID restrictions forced many churches to rapidly adopt technology in a variety of ways and I was able to help my own church with:

  • Setting up Zoom meetings during lockdown
  • Buying dedicated live-streaming equipment
  • Setting up our YouTube channel and providing training for our live-streaming setup
  • Video editing our pre-recorded services
  • Setting up church management software/email communication
  • Managing service registration and seat allocation for our services

While this added work has made this a busier year than expected, it has also been very rewarding to be able to use my gifts and skills in service of the church and the wider community.

Other highlights of the year included getting Grace dedicated, Joshua turning 4 and Grace turning 1. I got some cool tech including a new iPhone 12 Pro and upgrading to a new 5K iMac. I also did a bunch of gaming this year which included playing lots of Rocket League on my PS4 and introducing Joshua to Mario games on my Nintendo Switch. I even managed to get my camera and drone out occasionally.

Looking ahead to 2021

Right now things seem bleak as we’re in the middle of probably the toughest part of this global pandemic. However, to quote Batman (because why not?) “the night is darkest just before the dawn” and the two big things I’m looking forward to in 2021 are:

  1. Getting out of the COVID “valley of despair” as the new vaccines are rolled out and the restrictions are eased.
  2. Building and launching Lemon Squeezy with the Make Lemonade guys.

As always it is my prayer that in 2021 I will continue to walk closely with God and that he will continue to strengthen, encourage and grow me in spiritual maturity. I am so thankful to Him for how He has sustained us this past year and pray that he will continue to equip us for whatever 2021 might bring.

Wishing you all a Happy New Year and best wishes for 2021 🎉🎆🎉