If you haven’t been following the technology-specific news outlets for the past two weeks, it would have been easy to overlook the news that Google has acquired the company in Florida where I work: Channel Intelligence.  It’s quite a milestone.

Channel Intelligence was founded in late 1999, while the tech bubble was nearing the bursting point but was still growing. For me, it started back in December 2004 with a random call from the company’s HR department about my resume on Monster.com.  I was living in Maryland at the time, but within a week after that call I had done extensive interviews, and had an offer and a projected start date in January.  My wife and I packed up the house, and on January 4th, 2005, we arrived with our three kids in Florida.  Later, in 2007, I was also fortunate enough to have my wife join the company as a co-worker.

Despite the hard work and dedication, it was Florida.  It turned into the best 8 years of my life.. so far.  I’ve had the opportunity to work with so many talented people here, who taught me quite a lot over the years.  Hopefully, I was able to teach them… um, something.

Channel Intelligence defied a lot of odds against it, both real and perceived:

  • A West Coast-style software company, located in the Southeastern United States.
  • Located in the Orlando area, which I have repeatedly discovered is not taken seriously among software developers in well-known tech centers in the United States.  They apply tunnel vision to Orlando, and can only relate it to Disney.
  • Located in the town of Celebration, FL, on the South Side of the Disney theme parks in Orlando.  The idea of putting a tech company in a town near a Disney theme park is taken as a joke by some developers who work in the metro Orlando area itself. A small note: The town of Celebration was designed and built by the Walt Disney Company to model the ideal of the live/work/play planned community concept, a cause championed by Walt Disney himself. The town was also visited regularly by  tour buses from Disney itself, until the town became incorporated.  How much more Disney-like can you get?
  • Many people  in the Orlando area, who could get past the perceptions above, wouldn’t consider the commute to Celebration from where they lived.  Having lived in the Baltimore/DC area for 14 years, it was hard for me to understand why a drive of 20-25 miles was considered too far.
  • The company survived the dot com bubble bursting.
  • Despite the economic downturn in 2008, the company held steady and even grew its income.

As of today, the deal is complete and Channel Intelligence is a part of Google. We are now Googlers: a concept that will take some adjustment for me.  I am pleased, and frankly a little surprised,  to be one of a number of people who are ultimately moving to Google’s office in Pittsburgh.  If the interviews that Google folks held with us were seeking overly passionate oddballs who love what they do to a fault, don’t like rules that don’t help them regardless of who it is supposed to help, and consider the time spent in an interview with a Googler a hindrance to their productivity (ours, not Google’s), then they can declare their selection of me a success.  If anyone at Google is reading this and that wasn’t what you were looking for, I think you’ll still enjoy having me as a developer for whatever period of time.

When the time comes later this year, it will be hard to work geographically separated from a group of people I have worked with over the years, who formed a great team and made this company into such a success.  Even more, it will also be hard to say goodbye to Florida, even if it ends up being only for a period of time.  Before I leave, I will be visiting the beach a lot and making the most of bike week this year.

I will be coming back to Florida at some point, even if I have to wait until my retirement (whatever that really means for people who love their work).  I hope it won’t be too long.  While my visit to Pittsburgh proved that there is plenty to explore and enjoy, Florida is absolutely beautiful and a great environment for work, family, recreation and life in general.

But for now… myLife.chapter++;