My First WooTrip

There are some things about my time at Woo that I remember vividly; the many heated Fifa games, the conversation where we decided how to get WooCommerce launched (for another post), as well as the one time that Adii came up to me in the office and asked me

“would you like to go snowboarding?”

I thought he was joking 😀 He wasn’t….

Woo was small in 2010. Technically I was the 3rd full time employee, and even though there were a few part time employees as well, that brought the full time employee total to 6 – including the founders.

I don’t know who’s idea it was to go to Austria, but I was in!

The thing about this trip was it was the first real opportunity I had to get to know my coworkers. Up until then, I’d only spent time with Adii, Cobus, and Malan at the office. Mark and Magnus I’d only worked with online.

The trip is still one of my career highlights for a number of reasons…

  • It was my first international trip as an adult – I’ve travelled at least once a year outside of South Africa since 2013, so this was formative.
  • We were featured on which was a huge deal at the time. We were a case study for social media influence!
  • I got to work on a crazy innovative piece of software at the time – the Express iPhone app we had developed by a third party, and the tumblog themes/plugin which used the XML-RPC protocol to post from an iPhone app to WordPress. Waaaay ahead of its time. I’m still proud of this! The plugin has been downloaded 63,324 over the years, and the tumblog themes did pretty well too.
  • Some say the tumblog themes even influenced the introduction of post formats….We’ll never know….
  • I became acquainted with beer and Jägermeister properly 😀 Après ski….good times!
  • Most importantly though – I also built solid relationships with the other 5 guys.

This proved to be invaluable.

After the trip I recall Adii chatting to me about how important it was that I came on the trip because until that point, there wasn’t anyone full time that had been added to the team. Cobus and Malan were there from basically day 1 of Woo, so I was the “fresh” teammate who was the unknown factor to the existing culture.

Ultimately this is something I’ve seen over and over again as Woo grew, and has served me well at Automattic. Building relationships IRL with coworkers has probably been the single most important thing I’ve learned. Team meetups and grand meetups at Automattic are things I look forward to a lot for this very reason!

We didn’t do a lot of work on that trip to be honest. But to me it strengthened how we worked with each other when we got back home. It built deeper trust and a whole lot of camaraderie.

From snowball fights in the streets, falling many times on a snowboard, an extremely late night conversation about faith and evolution with Magnus 🙂 to heated pool fun (here’s looking at you Mark!) and many many beers – it set the tone for the next few years for me – Woo was innovative, Woo was effective, and Woo was fun!

And yes that is a picture of Mark, Fox and I in our underwear in the snow…on…the crazy things we did 😀

Thanks to Mark, Magnus, Adii, Cobus, and Malan for the memories, and the photos. The good shots were most likely taken by Mark or Adii 😛

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