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10 Years

10 years ago today, in 2005, Tristan and I signed the documents to incorporate The Echo Nest Corporation in Delaware, making me a “co-founder” right out of grad school. We were fanatical about music discovery and wanted our unique blend of technology to help listeners and artists. I’ve since worked harder than I ever thought imaginable, oversaw spectacular successes and overcame massive failures, turned equal parts jerk, compassionate, and anxious ball of wire; I questioned my life’s worth untold times, went from comfortable to destitute to overwhelmed; and I met all of my best friends. And we’re still fanatical about music discovery, and our unique blend of technology is helping listeners and artists.

We made a big change last year, at the peak of our powers: we were generating recommendations and playlists over 300 times a second for our customers and had grown to over 60 attractive employees in early 2014. And since then, of course, it’s gotten even better. But I never trust any startup person that says they’ve won. There’s always more to do. Nonetheless, I’m going to take a breath today to remember all the amazing people that got us here.

To the hundreds of you who were ever a part of this: I thank you to pieces. You both made this thing work, and were the thing itself. I’m sorry if I asked you who paid your salary that one time, or called you at midnight because a service went down, or reminded you how to spell our name, or got too emotional during an all-hands speech, or rewrote one of your lines of code. You have to understand: my dominant feeling throughout the course of The Echo Nest’s life was surprise. I was surprised that we could start a company from our dissertations. I was surprised we could hire people. I was surprised Jim wanted to join us as CEO. I was surprised we could raise money. I was surprised we got our first customers. I was surprised the people we hired cared so much. I was surprised everyone was working so hard, and that the company was becoming so successful. I was surprised Spotify was interested and that it’s worked so well. I remain surprised that everyone’s still with us, happier than ever in our much bigger new family, working even harder on the next big thing.

I was always standing as far ahead of the boat I could, eyes wide in awe that we somehow hadn’t run aground, but barking behind me to try to ensure we wouldn’t. Maybe you all should have tied me to the mast instead; we did great.

The empty office

The empty office, Davis Square, August 2005

The early board

The first board of directors, including Barry, Don Rose & McLagan, Bethe, Andre & Dorsey, and Elliot, 2008

Jim and T and Tim

Jim and Tristan and me and Tim, 2008

Introduction in Amsterdam

My hosts’ introduction of me before a talk in Amsterdam, 2009

Boston Phoenix

Early article in the Boston Phoenix

21 days until Echoprint release

Usual Brian management style, here of poor Alastair pre-Echoprint release, 2010

Ghost tracks

Team Ghost tracks

London team settles in in Somerville

Our London team settles in in Somerville

Elissa and Amanda

Elissa and Amanda

Early 2013 photo

Early 2013 group photo

Telling the office

Telling the office what had just happened (including 6am SF office), March 6 2014