Goodbye Schibsted

Changing internally can improve learning

Media

Schibsted has many business areas from news sites to marketplaces to financial services and even a dating site! The experience is vastly different across the board. The rest of this post is primarily focused on the media side of Schibsted since that’s where I’ve been working in the last 3.5 years.

Tried Internally

As the learning curve started to flatten. I applied for 4 internal positions but none led anywhere: 2 positions disappeared as their respective managers quit. 1 was a bit out of my league (security specialist) which would provide a good learning opportunity but they were looking for a security specialist with several years of experience.

The enemy of progress is the victim mentality.

For me even the internal tourism would do. Although one disadvantage of staying too long at the same team is that you become a “dependency” and your manager may not be very eager to move you internally because it may leave a gap in the home team. That is why “deprecate yourself” is one of my core principles.

Change to same

In the past few years Schibsted went through some tectonic changes. In 2019, Schibsted split into two half and the CEO took Adevinta with him. We got a new CEO who in turn renovated her management team and they in turn assined new managers all the way down.

You cannot change where you are born but you can choose where you live.

The freedom of movement indeed is the article 13 of UN human rights. The Scandinavian countries are known for many good things but xenophobia is not one of them. Back in 2016 it was very refreshing to join a diverse team. Same cannot be said about the team I left.

Catch 22

As I took more initiatives, my role unofficially grew into many areas of operation that spanned across multiple teams but it didn’t become official. In how to handle a reorg I mostly focused on its opportunity sides, but I have to confess that same perspective blinded me to the turmoil happenning around me. For example in a span of 2 years our team changed managers 4 times. This made it hard to build a history with a manager who could sponsor my promotion. After half a year of back and forth, my last manager told: “for climbing to the next level of the career ladder a position must show up and you have to apply to it”. But there was no openning!

Cost Saving

Back in 2016 Schibsted had an ambition goal of defeating Google and Facebook. The threat was real: like the majority of sites on the internet, the primary business model of the media sites were based on advertisement revenue. Google and Facebook were increasingly biting Schibsted’s share of the pie.

When an organization looses its growth mentality, people with that mentality turn into misfits.

Cripple

One of the major reasons I stayed so long was the talented people who work here. I firmly believe in this:

Always be the worst guy in every band you join. The people around you define the contours of your growth. Choose your crowd wisely. (source)

Unfortunately we lost many talented people reorg after reorg. Meanwhile the size of the product I was involved with grew from 1 site to 25 all while the team bandwidth effectively shrunk. When these issues were raised, the response varied from excuses to total radio silence. A thick management layer made it increasingly hard to push for meaningful change. The gap between decision makers and those who had to execute the decision and live with its consequences widened to a crippling level.

Covid

Covid has taken many lives and affected the economy of even more. We in the software industry are fortunate enough to have the luxury of working from home. In general it hasn’t affected us as badly but the job market has certainly shrunk (with a few exceptions which grew due to Covid like online retail, streaming, cloud technologies, etc.)

Life is what happens when you’re waiting for the next milestone to happen.

Eventually I got tired of waiting and decided to leave in the middle of the ambiguous new world that the pandemic has created.

The best way to predict the future is to create it. — Abraham Lincoln

To my ex-colleagues

Since I’ve shared this post internally, let me take the chance to say a word to my ex-colleagues:

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