A couple weeks ago I left my job at Clutter. I joined as a tech support engineer and eventually finished my career there as the product and engineering lead on our flagship Smart Storage business unit. It was a great 5 year run for my first job out of school. However when it's time to leave, you just know. I decided to leave a for a few reasons.

New Experiences

Like I said, Clutter was my first gig out of school. Its culture, processes, teammates, and habits are all that I really know. However I was developing a creeping anxiety that the experience was idiosyncratic.  

For context, Clutter delivers a storage and moving service that is supported by software built by product and engineering. The software is the frosting to the services cake served by a variety of human stakeholders: field operations, warehouse operations, dispatch, finance, compliance, and customer service. There are a lot of moving pieces that need to stay in sync for even small releases. Tight processes and hierarchy were established to maintain a healthy business in such a cross functional environment.  Solutions need to consider all wrinkles of the supply chain and customer or stakeholder experience.

Building product at a sprawling company like this demands a high cognitive load which accelerated my learning, but the experience was becoming repetitive. I have ambitions of starting my own company and I want to be able to pull from more diverse experiences and perspectives than just those from Clutter.

Expanding Interests

I wasn't too opinionated about where I would work for my first job. I wanted to learn to be an engineer and hopefully hitch a ride on a productive and successful company. However, if someone told me that I'd be working at a storage company for 5 years, I likely would have laughed, then cried, and then said, "Well, at least my parents use Dropbox." But it turns out that the self storage problem space is pretty interesting! The tangible and physical nature of the service was challenging and fun.

There were challenging optimization problems: We built genetic algorithms for our dispatching system and essentially played 3D Tetris in the warehouse to maximize space efficiency of customer items.

There was the perpetual challenge of collecting detailed inventory data with minimal friction for the customer. The inventory data would serve as the foundation for any estimate or predictions we used in operations. It was a puzzling tug of war between speed and accuracy.

Also, I enjoyed piloting new service types for our customers: Shipping, Drop Off, Curbside Pick Ups, Variable Delivery Days, etc. Some ideas worked and others did not, but building a product experience from scratch was very gratifying. In the earliest stages of building anything, assumptions brake and you can learn the most.

While I engaged with those problems, my interests have started to drift towards other topics. Currently I am more interested in crypto, ed tech or climate tech. Working in crypto/web3 means rebuilding a better internet. Education is sharing knowledge and tools so anyone can learn and achieve their goals. Climate tech is rebuilding the economy in a sustainable way that saves the planet. I'm eager to merge my interests and work.


Burnout is not the biggest reason why I left, but it would be disingenuous to not mention it. I probably could have continued working for an indefinite time longer. The company was still rewarding with me new challenges, and I had accrued a fair bit of social capital. However, I was still losing energy. The problems were becoming repetitive. The technical and cultural debt was mounting. As coworkers, mentors and friends came and went, the organization was slowly transforming from the one I joined into something similar but different.

Working remotely didn't affect my productivity, but it did deteriorate my connection to the company. In the past, I would bet that the emotional connection to one's teams kept them at their jobs longer but it became very easy to insulate myself from the team when working from home. It's hard for sparks to fly between colleagues when they only interact in tactical Zooms or contrived social events (virtual or irl). Despite the distance that grew between us, I will miss my former teammates and will be rooting hard for their success.

Anyways, I'm taking a little time off while I explore new opportunities and projects. I'm excited for my next chapter.