Mike Bland

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Starting at Apple

In a bizarre twist of fate, after a great run at Cvent, I've taken the unexpected opportunity to join Apple.

- Cupertino
Tags: Apple, Cvent, grouplets, personal
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Wednesday, October 31, 2018 was my last day at Cvent. Monday, November 5, 2018 was my first day at Apple.

I’ve written so little in over a year, and there’s so much to say and tell. I’ve not time to delve deeply this morning, but I didn’t want to delay revealing the basic facts any longer.

Cvent is a fantastic company that generously afforded me the opportunity to cultivate the Grouplet concept. Upon my exit, there were ten Grouplets: Code Quality; Documentation; Green (sustainability initiatiaves); Hour of Code; Product Management; Security; Tech Hiring; Testing; Training; and the Intergrouplet, the Grouplet of Grouplet leads/reps, advancing the Grouplet community as a whole. Plus, there were rumblings of starting a couple more, and making a big push to establish them in India as well.

Given that interest in Grouplets at Cvent grew so much more quickly than I anticipated, I was challenged to articulate my experiences and vision into clear, actionable strategies and tactics in a compressed time frame. I learned a lot and developed a lot of new tools in the process. I’m proud of all that we accomplished together, and am confident that Grouplets will continue to flourish given the talent, passion, and vision of my fellow Cvent Instigators.

Suffice it to say, I was on a very good trajectory, and I’m eternally grateful to Ramez Mourad and David Johnson for having confidence in me and giving me the freedom to execute on my vision. I was planning on being at Cvent for a very long time.

So…what happened?

Long story short, out of the blue, I was invited to speak at Apple. I delivered each of The Rainbow of Death and Automated Testing—Why Bother? twice (on different days, to accommodate people who could make one day but not the other). And yes, they were well aware of Finding More Than One Worm in the Apple, even before I dutifully reminded them of it.

Going into it, I had no intention—or even really the interest—in joining Apple. However, the earnest engagement of the people who attended, and the excellent questions that indicated their desire for more insight, caught me completely off guard. Moreso than any direct appeal from a recruiter or hiring manager, it was the genuine, unscripted reactions of the voluntary attendees that demonstrated to me that perhaps, just maybe, I might have something to offer this company.

Plus, Apple isn’t just a big company, or a successful company—at this point, it’s safe to call it a company of legend. Yet despite this, I could still see myself helping to make a difference here.

Once that idea took hold, as happy as I was at Cvent, cultivating a very vibrant Grouplet community there, and living in Virginia again, comfortably close to family and friends, there was one basic question that I knew I couldn’t live with: What if? Painful as it’s been to leave so many good things and great people, I knew that question would destroy me if I didn’t take my chances when I got ‘em.

Even so, if I’d not been at Cvent already for a year, or if Grouplets weren’t in the robust state they’re in, I wouldn’t’ve left so soon. Though I never imagined looking for another job, the timing was just right enough.

This hasn’t been the easiest decision to make, for numerous reasons. The past six weeks have been enormously stressful, as my girlfriend and I have uprooted our lives to make this happen. But now that I’m here—well, as bizarre as it is to be back in Silicon Valley, I have to say, it feels right.

As I’ve told a few folks, when I first came to California in 2005 to join Google, I said I’d never return to Virginia. When I got back to Virginia in 2014, I said I’d never go back to California. I think I’ve finally learned that the universe has an ironic sense of humor, and I need to keep my damn mouth shut.