Michael Angeles Joins Balsamiq
I can barely contain my excitement as I type this, so I'll get right to it:
Michael Angeles, the man behind Konigi and one of the people I look up to the most in our industry, has agreed to join Balsamiq.
His job title is Director of User Experience, but we just call him UX Guru, for short. 😉
Michael is a very well-known figure in the Information Architecture, UX and usability industry. He is one of the co-founders and a current advisory board member of the IA Institute, he regularly speaks at conferences and writes about wireframing, IA, UX and web design, and he's the man behind Konigi, one of the premiere UX sites on the web.
Be So Good They Can't Ignore You
If you've been reading this blog you know that the Steve Martin quote above is one of the mantras we try to live by. Well, Mike is a prime example of someone so good, we couldn't ignore him. 🙂
Let me explain, by telling the story of how we met.
As I mentioned in my post about the value of blogging, one of the first things I did when I started writing PatataMonkey, my daddy blog, was to look for other blogs just like the one I wanted to write.
The very first ones I found, and my favorite overall, was called "UrlGreyHot and Lorenzo", a daddy blog I found a very intimate, private and soft-spoken blog (full review, a funny post). It immediately inspired me, not just to write a better blog, but to be a better father.
Guess who was behind that blog? That's right, Michael Angeles. But that was 2005 and I didn't think much of it. I was just getting into UX back then and didn’t recognize his name.
My memory is a bit blurry about this, but as the months and years passed, Michael's name kept popping up in the blogs and websites I visited. It was on Boxes and Arrows, IA Slash...all over the place!
It was hard to make the connection at first, since Mike uses several nicknames online (jibbajabba, urlgreyhot, konigi), but I remember the day I put it all together in my head and thought "wow, this guy's everywhere! And everything he does, I like!" 🙂
Ever since that day, I've been following his work more closely, you could say he's one of my online heroes.
Excellence attracts excellence
Fast-forward to more recent times, and it now seems obvious to me that our paths were on a "merging course". 🙂
Last year I received an email from Mike asking me if I'd be interested in making a special version of Mockups to use on Konigi.com. The idea is for people to have a place to post their wireframes (maybe anonymously) and get a critique done by their peers and UX experts.
This was just around the time we were starting to develop myBalsamiq, so I thought that "public myBalsamiq projects" would be perfect for it. In fact, Mike's the reason public projects are in v.1 of myBalsamiq, and I can't wait for him to start hosting these critique sessions!
Anyways, we had a Skype chat about this idea, and I was immediately struck at how easy and exciting working with Mike was. We immediately clicked, it felt like we had known each other forever (well I'd been reading everything he wrote for the last 4 years, so maybe that had something to do with it...).
And then Rackspace hired Scoble
Do you know who Robert Scoble is? I bet you do, but in short, he's the definition of the "digerati", one of those people who truly "gets" the current state of technology and how it affects society, because he lives and breathes it every day, with enormous dedication and passion.
Now, did you know Rackspace hired Scoble last year? Many people who know who Scoble is don't know this fact, which it's telling!
I remember thinking how smart it was for Rackspace to "snatch him". They basically hired Scoble to "BE Scoble", they give him what I imagine is a very good salary so that he can have the freedom to do whatever he wants, every day.
In return Rackspace gets to put a tiny little Rackspace logo on Scoble's avatar, and most importantly gets first access to someone who's a thought leader, years ahead of most everyone else.
Because of this simple move, I now think that Rackspace "gets it" more than its competitors, and I am more inclined to do business with them. They also acquired Slicehost, whose success was based on providing outstanding customer support. So they get it in more ways than one...but I digress...
Back to our story. One thing I learned during my Skype chat with Mike is that Konigi was just his hobby, his nights-and-weekends job.
This news came as a bit of a shock. Given the quality and quantity of material on Konigi, I had assumed there had to be a whole team of people working full time on it.
So last fall, as business was booming, I started thinking: what if Mike had the freedom to work on his passion FULL TIME? What other amazing things would come out of it? Could WE pull our own mini-Rackspace move?
At first it was a dream, a secret. I tried to push it away because I didn't want to get my hopes up in vain, but it kept popping into my head, more and more often. Sales going so well and work piling up didn't help either. 🙂
So one day in December I mustered the courage and called Mike on Skype. Shaking, with a trepidation level not much lower than when I proposed to my wife, I asked Mike to start thinking about what it would take for me to convince him to leave his job and join Balsamiq one day.
Well, amazingly, it didn't take too long! 🙂 We had a long chat that day, and the next day, and again a week later.
Then, on December 29th, we sealed the deal with a high-five over Skype.