Joe Hewitt

Creative Tools

Today was my last day at Facebook. Normally when I leave a job I go out cursing the management and wishing I had left much sooner. In the case of Facebook, I sent heartfelt emails to all of my managers thanking them for the privilege of letting me work there, and I genuinely meant it. Facebook was the longest I ever worked at one company, and the best employer I've ever had.

Working at Facebook was like having my own startup, but with a paycheck instead of ramen. Management gave me the freedom to work on my own ideas, and just like with real startups, some of my projects never made it out of the lab, while others shipped and were huge successes. The brilliance of Facebook management is encouraging everyone to take initiative, take risks, and wear as many hats as you can. I wish more tech companies operated like this.

It's been more than five years since I made Firebug, and though I stopped working on it long ago, I've continued thinking about it nearly every day since. It was probably the most gratifying project I've ever worked on. Knowing that I was helping developers solve hard problems, work more efficiently, and create awesome things gave me an energy and happiness that was unmatched.

My mind is still full of ideas for tools of all kinds: tools for writers, designers, programmers, whatever. Wherever people are using computers to turn their ideas into reality, I want to help. I've spent the last four years of my career working on a very different kind of software. At Facebook, I've gotten to build communications tools that reach hundreds of millions of people. I've had the honor of seeing people, even my own parents, using my apps while walking down the street, in restaurants, on trains, in planes and everywhere I go. Still, I haven't been able to stop thinking about Firebug.

Technologies have a way of growing faster than the ecosystem of tools needed to support them. Over the last four years, we've seen the rise of mobile apps, the cloud, and now HTML5. Most developers building on these new platforms are using the previous generations of tools along with a mix of ad-hoc scripts and web apps to get things done. It works, but it is far from ideal. In fact, it reminds me a lot of the Ajax climate back in 2006 when I decided to make Firebug.

And so, I'm independent now, and I'm going to pour myself into understanding the needs of modern developers and designers, and creating software to fill those needs. There are so many opportunities that I can't even predict what I will end up building, but I am pretty sure I know where I am going to start. I can't wait.