Matt and Mike have former CEO Matt Westgate on to talk about his transition to Tugboat, and also speak with new CEO Seth Brown to talk about what's upcoming for Lullabot.

I started in the mailroom, for sure.

This Episode's Guests

Seth Brown

Thumbnail
Seth Brown is Lullabot's CEO. He makes sure all the pieces are in the right places to keep the robot humming along. He's also very tall.
Transcript

Transcript

Matt Kleve:
For October 7th, 2020, it's the Lullabot Podcast! Get ready it's the Lullabot Podcast episode 250. I'm Matt Kleve, the senior developer at Lullabot with me as always co-host to the show, senior front-end developer, Mike Herchel. Hi, Mike.
Mike Herchel:
Big 250!
Matt Kleve:
Big 250. That is true.
Mike Herchel:
That's a milestone.
Matt Kleve:
If you count by 10s, I suppose. There are a quarter of [crosstalk 00:00:41]-
Mike Herchel:
Or 25s or 50s.
Matt Kleve:
Yeah, that's good. But we counted by words.
Mike Herchel:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Matt Kleve:
Hey, big news today coming out of Lullabot, right?
Mike Herchel:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Very big news.
Matt Kleve:
We have two very special guests on that are going to tell us all about it. First, off we have Lullabot co-Founder Matt Westgate. Hey Matt.
Matt Westgate:
Hey Matt. Hey Mike.
Matt Kleve:
Matt, you're no stranger to Lullabot Podcast. You were on the early days. Quite a few of them.
Mike Herchel:
Maybe even [inaudible 00:01:08], If I'm not mistaken.
Matt Westgate:
Yeah, it's great to be here. Again, jumped from 1 to 250, just make those quarterly intervals.
Matt Kleve:
We were kind of in there every once in a while. We've had John, we talked about Tugboat. We talked about Lullabot at 10 years throughout our time on the podcast.
Matt Westgate:
Yeah, it's been great.
Mike Herchel:
And next up, we have Seth Brown who has a new title.
Seth Brown:
Wait, I do? [crosstalk 00:01:36] This is a terrible way to tell somebody.
Mike Herchel:
So, Seth, we're announcing this to everybody.
Seth Brown:
Okay. What's my new title, Mike?
Mike Herchel:
You are the CEO.
Seth Brown:
Oh, no. Are you kidding me? [crosstalk 00:01:49] That's frightening.
Matt Kleve:
Oh, Seth. I sent you that Slack message. Did you know?
Seth Brown:
Well, then I guess I'll have to up my game here. That's certainly an exciting prospect. I accept.
Mike Herchel:
All right.
Matt Kleve:
Seth, before being the CEO now, you were the COO at Lullabot previously, so we just changed one of the initials.
Seth Brown:
Yeah, and that's never a big deal. I don't [inaudible 00:02:18].
Matt Kleve:
You got less operating, more executives now.
Seth Brown:
Yes, because that's a verb. I am not sure that it is a huge switch in some senses. I think that I was focused on kind of our professional services work and will continue to be so but losing that is a big deal. But we're not losing that, Matt's not disappearing off the face of the earth or pretty much going anywhere because of COVID. Matt, it's still at your house. Haven't left your house, or leaving your house?
Matt Westgate:
If there's an outside, I'm not aware of it.
Seth Brown:
So Matt, tell us about your new gig?
Matt Westgate:
There's a lot of fun things going on at Lullabot these days. It's the darnedest of times to be doing all of this stuff. So hugs to all of our listeners, hope everyone's safe out there. Lullabot has been doing ... we've had this vision that this is no surprise for us, even though ... It's a surprise for our listeners. This is a project, the thing that we started thinking about, about eight years ago sort of succession planning, the future of Lullabot, all of that sort of stuff. And one of the things that we did in 2012 was this concept of open-books management. The idea of, you know what? "We are working with super smart, super-skilled people that are always asking us questions about how the company works and the numbers and all of that."
Matt Westgate:
One of the things that we could do, we got our start in Lullabot, by being a part of Drupal and we saw the ethos of open source and how transparency and collaboration can be tools for empowerment. So we thought we could kind of replicate that idea at the business level, by opening up our books, by teaching our team how financials work. That's gone really well. It was a little quirky to come to a company retreat and say, "Hey, we're going to have an accounting class." Handout balance sheets and P&Ls. But the team really ran with it. And before you know it, we were all doing, not we, but there was a group of us that went on to do Coursera financing classes and group study books and all of that.
Matt Westgate:
But one of the things that we've wanted to do was we've started new ventures. Drupalize.Me was a big one that was a Lullabot company that went out ... At first, that was our education initiative. Then ... I don't know how many years ago Seth? Was it four or five years ago, I want to say?
Seth Brown:
2016.
Matt Westgate:
Yeah, 2016 Drupalize.ME went off, did its own thing, became its own company. It's now called Osio Labs. Osio is for Open Source Inside Out. And we have a new opportunity now with that. We have an opportunity to create another sister company in our Lullabot portfolio. And that is Tugboat. Many of you have seen or heard Tugboat around and I am going to go be the captain of Tugboat.
Matt Kleve:
There it is.
Matt Westgate:
Yeah. And so we've got a team that we're going, we've got some funding from Lullabot and we're going full sail into making that thing happen.
Seth Brown:
So does Tugboat have a sail. Do they have a tiller or more like a steering wheel?
Matt Westgate:
I'm going to keep mixing it up and get me going here [inaudible 00:06:21] than going the pirate speak.
Matt Kleve:
Oh, a pirate tempo. Raise the Jolly Roger, we're launching the Tugboat.
Matt Westgate:
And it's really exciting. There's a lot of neat features happening. Tugboat's been able to contribute to Drupal.org. We are testing, creating, deployment previews for all of the Drupal core merger requests right now, we're trying to find our way to contribute back to the community through that. We've got visual regression testing and a bunch of new features down the pipe that we're really excited about.
Matt Kleve:
And Matt, if you could just step in real quick and explain Tugboat to somebody if they haven't heard of it? Tugboat.qa is the website if they can go to. We'll also link to a previous podcast we did, but it was quite some time ago. Tugboat has grown since then and is bigger as a product than what it used to be. Just kind of briefly go over what Tugboat is and what it does for us if you would?
Matt Westgate:
Sure, yeah. The quick version is it creates review environments for developers. So when they make a pull request, it creates a review environment. It adds a whole bunch of additional testing and functionality on the back end of that review environment, but it creates a URL for stakeholders to see the work as soon as it's ready to go. So the engineering team doesn't have to spend time deploying to a staging server, rolling up all of the code chunks, and making that happen. It's just an automatic thing. The rest of the team gets notified. There's some cool tools and functionality on the backend to automate things like ... There's some stuff we're going to be announcing soon that may or may not be related to SEO analysis, accessibility testing. We've already got the visual regression components. So we're trying to automate all these things to really help the review process go fast. So check it out. It's hosting agnostic which is great because it can work with any hosting provider.
Mike Herchel:
Cool. Before we talk about maybe the future, let's maybe talk about how Lullabot started. Lullabot was founded in what year?
Matt Westgate:
January 1st, 2006.
Mike Herchel:
And it was you and Jeff Robbins, correct?
Matt Westgate:
Yeah. The way that worked is I had just finished writing the e-commerce platform for Drupal of all the things, that was a long time ago. And then thanks to people like Gordon Hyden and Ryan Sarama who have continued the legacy of that. Although Ryan, I think he made his own instance of the e-commerce stuff. So I was there and I met Jeff Robbins in the Drupal issue queue of all places, and I helped him get his instance up and running. Then one day he reached out to me and asked if he could pay me to talk to him about Drupal. It's more or less how all about consulting was created. And then we started getting opportunities. I wrote the book on Drupal. And the cool thing was we had an opportunity to start to hire some of our friends in the Drupal space, and there's a lot of luck and timing on there, but it sure was a lot of fun to be a part of that early Drupal Movement.
Mike Herchel:
Yeah, totally. So and for a while, Lullabot was training before we actually started building the websites ourselves?
Matt Westgate:
Yup. We were going around and doing workshops all over the place, teaching people how to build Drupal websites. We think it was ... what year was it, Seth when we were at Providence in the Music Mansion? Was that-
Seth Brown:
It was 2007 where I came on the scene, I think maybe Matt Kleve as well went to all of our training, around there about.
Matt Kleve:
Yeah. I believe it was the year after in January or February was me in Portland. But Seth, I mean, that was your introduction to Lullabot. You were a student and in the training classroom, now the new CEO of the company. That's pretty cool.
Seth Brown:
Totally. I started in the mail room for sure. I was actually sitting in the front of that class in 2007 in the Providence Music Mansion with Addison Berry who incidentally is now the CEO of Osio Labs. And she was hired, I think, at the end of that trip. But what I remembered about Lullabot was a warm, fuzzy kind of ... It feels embarrassing to say, but loving towards each other group they were. And I thought, "Wow! I'd love to work at a place like that someday." I was really impressed with the culture even though it was a really small, very talented group with Jeff Eaton and Angie Byron, and Nate Houck and Matt and Jeff Robbins. And I thought when the job opportunity to be a project manager came up in 2010, I thought, "Well, here's my chance." I applied and came in with four other Lullabots to start the Professional Services Division of Lullabot. And Matt Kleve, you came in shortly thereafter into that kind of new effort [crosstalk 00:11:49]-
Matt Kleve:
You hired me, Seth.
Seth Brown:
I did. I hope you don't have any damning materials related to that hiring process.
Matt Kleve:
I have the email that I think proves that you were being groomed for this position, even since then. Matt had delegated the hiring process to you at that point. So it was let's see where Seth is going to go. Let's see how it goes.
Seth Brown:
Or at least I was claiming that had been delegated, that was probably inaccurate, but we started building professional services and our consulting and education work moved more from mailing CDs to being online, became Drupalize.Me and then eventually we spun that off. We stopped doing trainings. And the incipient professional services group that started in 2010 grew to be our entire business. And that's where we are today at about 54 folks. And our focus is very much on building Drupal for large scale digital publishers doing Drupal work.
Matt Westgate:
Seth has been with that every step of the way, taking it from the little seedling idea to what it is today. I don't know of any person better than Seth to lead that to be well about CEO.
Seth Brown:
Yeah. [crosstalk 00:13:24] speechless of that.
Matt Westgate:
I'm going to be on a Tugboat.
Seth Brown:
And Matt's Jr. begins by boat at this point. [crosstalk 00:13:34] adventures.
Matt Westgate:
I'll still be on the chair of Lullabot as a chairperson providing support that way. I mean, the thing that we've been wanting to do again with the concept of Lullabot in sort of learning and teach the business fundamentals is this idea of, when there are opportunities to present themselves of "Hey, I see this opportunity within Lullabot. It's something that we offer. Is there a way to support this? Does it provide better service to our customers? Little things like Tugboat come up or opportunities like that. And the idea is that we call can empower each other to do those kinds of things, which is one of the reasons that we've also been talking with about employee ownership for a long time, right? Seth.
Seth Brown:
Yeah, absolutely. We are moving as rapidly as we're able towards that goal of employee ownership. And the inspiring idea that I think you're alluding to is as being a company of companies. So beyond just Lullabot ... The professional services group, Tugboat would be a sister company maybe someday Osio Labs comes back into the fold. We let the teenager move out of the basement and we found out we really missed them. And we might like them to move back home someday.
Matt Kleve:
If we just mentioned them real quick. They left as Drupalize.Me. And now as a company, they're much more than that. If you look at Osio Labs information on the internet, they have multiple websites', kind of doing the same idea of thing, training people how to do things on the internet. And it's really cool they're doing great things.
Seth Brown:
Yeah. They've made some forays into teaching Node.js and Gatsby. But Drupal is still very much their core focus as it is Lullabot. The employee ownership hopefully, will come to fruition this year. We're certainly making an effort in that direction. There's a lot of things that have to go right for that to happen. And in 2020 that seems like we're asking a lot, but we're working towards the goal of being an ESOP, an employee-owned company. And ideally, that would happen on December 31st.
Matt Kleve:
And as we've talked as a staff, there's a lot that needs to happen before then. So kind of cart before the horse. I mean, that's kind of the end game there?
Seth Brown:
Yeah.
Matt Westgate:
Yeah. And if not now later. But the intention is that January 1st, I don't know why it's always January 1st, but it's always January 1st, 2021, we'd become a 100% employee-owned organization. That's what we're shooting for. And for some reason, it doesn't happen then push it out to the future. But it's definitely on our radar and we are all very excited about it.
Matt Kleve:
It's because we like new year's resolutions.
Matt Westgate:
Is that what it is?
Seth Brown:
The vehicle to do this is complicated, but I've been working on this metaphor. So let me try it out on you guys. So Matt had a house. Matt owned a house and he built it from the ground up. He started building rooms and he invited a bunch of us to come hang out and live with him. And we've lived in those rooms and over time, we've all helped build the house as well. And the house has gotten bigger and bigger and bigger, and now it's actually worth quite a bit of money. And so it's something of value. And so as the current owners' exit, it's kind of the new owners, the employee-owners, which would be us going forward. It's kind of funny because we are both the buyers and the sellers here. We would be taking on the mortgage for this new house and becoming owners through a vehicle that's available to us through the federal government called an AESOP.
Seth Brown:
And we would have to pay down that mortgage, but then slowly we would own more and more equity in the house. And the part about that is that all of our profits would be going back to all of us and for us that creates some meaningful equity for everyone that we all get to share in the upside of what we've built as we have more and more equity in. And if Lullabot like a house were to increase widely in value through growth or acquisitions or any of those things, it's kind of your house going up in value. It's great if you're the owner of a house and it goes up in value. So that's the hope and the way to get there might be through a company of companies, through adding new businesses under the same roof, or it might be through building out the house that we already have, growing, growing what we've built so far. So those are both available to us.
Matt Westgate:
What does all this mean to any of our customers? Is the company of companies going to affect them or are you going to dramatically change anything?
Seth Brown:
Well, we're not going to dramatically change our governance, and I think that's the first question on anybody's mind in governance, I see Matt kind of flinching. You guys can't see them, but that's clearly a jargony word. But we're still going to have a CEO. We're still going to have managers. We're still going to operate much as we do today. But as a company of owners, hopefully, there's that thing where homeowners tend to take better care of their houses than renters. I think that's fair to say. But we-
Matt Kleve:
[crosstalk 00:19:36] some meaning it's a purpose to it, right?
Seth Brown:
Yeah. We create a culture of ownership and I think hopefully everyone feels that buy-in and that commitment to Lullabot, to our clients, to the work that they're doing. And so I think that that could have an impact on our clients. But overall, if I'm a client of Lullabot right now, not a whole heck of a lot changes from their perspective and maybe that's reassuring, there's consistency going forward. The leadership will look a lot as it does today. Except for the CEO transition. And the work that we do will be really similar after January 1st.
Matt Westgate:
The leadership team, maybe to make it clear, the leadership team isn't leaving. If anything we are more fired up, more excited to be a part of this new Lullabot. The employees become the shareholders. We have jobs just like the employees do, but we are literally in service to each other. Everyone is in service to everyone else, we all have a stake in this outcome together. One of the foundational principles of Lullabot, there's two of them, but one of the foundational principles is that the company and the team are harmoniously aligned, which is why you've been wanting to do this for a long time. It's not a traditional exit of "All right, see you later. We're out of here. Good luck with the company." Is actually "Oh my gosh, we are finally making this come true."
Matt Westgate:
I'm leaving as Lullabot's about CEO. We'll still be serving on the board together, but I'm leaving to go make Lullabot bigger. That's the intention is Seth and I are dividing and conquering opportunities. And I don't know if any of our clients or listeners have ever experienced or been a part of companies that are AESOP's before? A lot of craft breweries are employee-owned. Grocery stores are employee-owned, different factories they're employee-owned. In where I live Rhode Island my role model for employee ownership is this group called the Newport Restaurant Group. They are a hundred percent employee-owned. And what they do is they buy restaurants and then add them to the AESOP. There's about 14 restaurants here. There's a reputation of these restaurants in Rhode Island, that these are the best restaurants to go to.
Matt Westgate:
Every employee knows what an AESOP means, knows that they have skin in the game, and just delivers a value of service. That just seems to be personal above and beyond, in terms of delivery, food quality, all of that. And so that's what we're trying to create here. It's just to really ... this idea of aligning incentives creating and distributing a retirement future that benefits everybody that's doing the work. And what more inspiring way to keep going and make this awesome.
Seth Brown:
Yeah.
Matt Kleve:
One thing I want to point out Matt is that this is something that wasn't really a surprise to a lot of people who work here because you've kind of talked about this plan for a long time, even back in January, February when we were all together back when we could do that kind of thing. You presented this idea that in the near future, I'd like to spin off as CEO, put Seth in my place. And the plan is kind of coming together. The timeline just seems to be a little quicker than we initially thought.
Matt Westgate:
Six years early.
Matt Kleve:
Just a little bit.
Matt Westgate:
But that's how long we've been talking. I mean, we've been talking about it for a while too.
Matt Kleve:
Were you being conservative when you put it six years out, or what were you thinking?
Matt Westgate:
No. In 2026 is when we thought we would do all of this. Sometimes the moment arrives at your doorsteps. I guess it's better for it to arrive sooner than later, Seth was feeling ready. He wanted to step into the opportunity. We have some momentum right now with Tugboat that is hard to ignore. And if nobody's working on this specific vision, it's not going to happen. I've got a little bit of that entrepreneurial spirit in me. I like a good challenge every now and then for better for worse. Seth and I have been working on succession planning for a long time now. And some of that is just being ready for the opportunity when it arrives. I can't be more thankful for the team and for Seth, for just being willing to have the trust and to step into this role. I feel so excited and know that the team will be supported under his leadership.
Matt Kleve:
So since we've presented a few different metaphors on the podcast, I'll bring one more in, I think we are today on the Lullabot Podcast episode 250. We've been visited by three ghosts, the ghost of Lullabot past, the ghost of Lullabot present. Why don't we after this break, talk a little bit about the future.
Seth Brown:
I knew this house was haunted.
Mike Herchel:
Welcome back. We're talking with Matt Westgate and Seth Brown. Matt is a former CEO and Seth, you are the new CEO as you just found out in the first half of this podcast. Congratulations.
Seth Brown:
Thanks. I'm starting to adjust now. I appreciate it.
Matt Kleve:
And maybe I should have re-read my Dickens before I added that other metaphor. I'm not even sure that that was a good thing, but that was [crosstalk 00:25:36].
Seth Brown:
Well, this goes to Matt.
Matt Kleve:
Of course.
Mike Herchel:
So let's talk about the larger maybe scheme and ecosystem of Drupal. Does this, does Lullabot position in the overall Drupal ecosystem change at all?
Seth Brown:
Well, as of today, I think we're going to only be doing decoupled WordPress site.
Matt Kleve:
What? No.
Seth Brown:
Oh, I'm just kidding. No. We are still very much committed to Drupal. Drupal is definitely been our focus for all of this time over the last what 14 years. It's kind of crazy to say. And I think we're as involved and committed as we've ever been. Actually, Mike, you're working on the Olivero project, which is one of the five key initiatives for Drupal 10, which is very exciting. In the dress note at DrupalCon Global, he chose his five priorities. It was neat to see that Lullabot was mentioned as one of the only sponsors of those so far and they were kind of asking for others. I assume with Olivero are going well for inclusion in Drupal 10?
Matt Westgate:
Yeah. We just got our automated tests passing earlier today.
Mike Herchel:
Congrats.
Seth Brown:
Nice. Our clients are still very much using and committed to Drupal. For me, one of the things that I always come back to when I'm thinking about, why Drupal is what are the sort of problems that our clients are grappling with and why is Drupal a good fit for that? Right now we're working with three large companies that work in the cloud services space, digital cloud services space. And I feel like there's a lot of overlap when we look at the kinds of problems that they grapple with, day-to-day. They came into the last couple of years having ... some of them an ecosystem of different CMSs, 300 content types in one case or upwards of 300. Sometimes you'll have 16 different Call to Action content types because someone wanted something a little bit different and created a new special snowflake to create the front-end for that in some random system.
Seth Brown:
And so a lot of what we do is we come in and say, "Hey, let's get this down to a much more strategic, reasonable number of content types. And let's create a component library and a design system for you that you can use to create systems of websites. So you look across our clients, the state of Georgia with its 85 agencies, or NYU Langone with all of its different hospitals. We're often not just working on a website, we're working on a system of websites where our clients want to be able to publish with consistency, efficiency, and do it at scale. And to do those things, they need a very solid foundation in terms of their content-architecture. And they need a component-driven design system that allows them to take and reuse components in lots of different contexts without diluting or being messy or messing up their brand. And so I feel like that's where Drupal excels and that's where Lullabot is spending a lot of our time these days.
Matt Westgate:
Yeah. That totally makes a lot of sense. If you have effective component library and effective design system as a front-end developer, everything becomes easier. It's just a matter of assembling the parts and then Drupal ... And a lot of times to do that just through the gooey, which is pretty awesome.
Seth Brown:
It's like building our house with Legos on top of Legos. We'd like Legos in this world.
Mike Herchel:
We've heard that analogy before.
Matt Kleve:
Is this the same house or is this a different house?
Seth Brown:
It's not the house we live in. It wouldn't be up to code. But it is a great way to build websites and to build publishing systems. I feel like Lullabot exists at this ... I'm going to get jargony, but this intersection of large content management systems and design systems, and the thinking around design systems continues to evolve, and they're becoming more and more important with tools like Pattern Lab and Fractal. And the ability to kind of have a library of components that it's easy for page builders to browse, see what's available. And then out of those components build consistent experiences for their users. And it's not the world that we started in 10 years ago where you would get this long deck of Photoshop document in a PDF that was basically just here's all of these pages. It was very page-centric the approach to the web.
Seth Brown:
I think with the new tools that we have available, it makes much more sense to be component-driven. I'm assuming our users are pretty familiar with what that means. But Mike, you would be a great person to define what do we mean when we say, component library or component-driven website as opposed to something that's more page centric.
Mike Herchel:
Yeah, totally. Obviously, Drupal has the idea, the concept of nodes and blocks, which I'm assuming that most of our listeners are aware of. The idea is from an editorial point of view, being able to kind of browse through what you want your block or your node or anything to look like, or assemble a page based on those. So I can say, I wan this style here or component upfront. And then below that, I want to kind of mix and match these, your marketers or content editors are able to do that in their own way. When you're building these components and design system, you can abstract that from Drupal. So you can even bring that into different systems beyond Drupal, which is pretty powerful and we're doing that within some of our projects. It's just a really nice way to share the same markup to share the same work throughout your customers, multiple websites, which may or may not be Drupal.
Matt Kleve:
So a component might be like a Call to Action block or-
Mike Herchel:
Absolutely.
Matt Kleve:
... a list of links and they're all kind of rendered in a...
Seth Brown:
A photo treatment with the caption.
Matt Kleve:
There we go.
Seth Brown:
Yeah.
Mike Herchel:
Yeah, absolutely. And components can contain other components or typically composed of other components.
Matt Kleve:
And they're repeatable, that's the goal?
Seth Brown:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Matt Kleve:
Look at that back end guy know what's going on.
Mike Herchel:
Damn.
Seth Brown:
It's kind of nice to be on the backend of Drupal. Matt, I mean, a lot changed with Drupal 8, but all in all the backend concepts are fairly similar.
Matt Kleve:
Yeah. I think if somebody were to jump in and say, "Hey, let's learn Drupal 8. I think it would be difficult without knowing where we've come from because a lot of that is still the same."
Seth Brown:
There's a lot of Drupal-isms in there.
Matt Kleve:
Yeah.
Seth Brown:
Mike, I was curious to ask you something related to our future. It seems Dries is acknowledging that Drupal will more and more use the phrase, "Become a structured data engine." I can't help but picture decoupled websites when he says something like that. The idea that Drupal is a place to store your content and then you can easily through JSON API or some other system create feeds that the front-end can then consume. And you can create experiences using JavaScript, which word on the street is how most front-end developers want to work these days. And that's where the developer experience seems to be going. And one of the initiatives that you mentioned is this idea of creating our first menu block. That's either a reactor, a view component, or both. What does that do for us? Where does that get us in terms of this journey of making Drupal better at being a CMS in decoupled situations?
Mike Herchel:
Well, the first thing that comes to my mind is just kind of the term of eating our own dog food. As soon as you make that a core initiative that prioritizes any of the backend work that needs to happen to make this possible. There's plenty of websites out there that we've built and that other people have built that do menus. But sometimes that can be fairly difficult, because of the way that Drupal works. And by making an official initiative out of that, well, "Hey, let's make that easy, let's make that standard." So when you're working with Drupal, as opposed to different ... [inaudible 00:35:11] Jam stack type CMSs. The Drupal experience is just as good, if not better, when you're doing that because that's the point-
Seth Brown:
Once we've gone through this journey. Does jQuery go away? Is this the beginning of a true modernization of Drupal's JavaScript?
Mike Herchel:
It's already happening. To tell you the truth, one of our coworkers, Sally Young is one of the initiative leads for the JavaScript modernization initiative. JQuery is already been factored out. When we're writing, Olivero, we're not using JQuery. JQuery UI is being removed. There's a lot of the core stuff that is being developed is re-factoring out JQuery. That's going to be a big task because JQuery kind of hooks itself into everything. [crosstalk 00:36:15] in additional to that, Drupal 9 core still supports Internet Explorer 11, which JQuery supports really well too. But the word on the street is that Drupal 10 will not support IE11 and that's going to kind of open up a lot more options.
Matt Kleve:
Mike that's kind of the biggest benefit to JQuery still hanging around. 10 years ago, that was the argument. That was, if you want to run JavaScript that's cross-browser, we're going to do it this other way and it's going to work fine. And that was kind of like jQuery?
Mike Herchel:
Yeah, exactly. Most modern browsers tend to handle JavaScript pretty well.
Matt Kleve:
It's a little more universal now than it used to be.
Mike Herchel:
Yeah. There used to be a lot of bugs within IE but now things are a lot cleaner, but it's obviously still not perfect.
Matt Kleve:
So we're going to install IE6?
Seth Brown:
You don't. God, I remember those days.
Matt Kleve:
I love IE6 because-
Seth Brown:
I remember when ... God, I mean, not to date myself, but Netscape 4 was really where this journey began for me. Anyway, just going back to Lullabot and Drupal, I think we very much ... Drupal is the star at the center of our solar system. And most of what we do orbits around Drupal in some form or another, even though that may look like we've got a developer who's a Swift developer working on TBOS applications. We have another developer working on Roku. But Drupal either is the "structured data engine" to use Teresa's term that has all of the metadata and information that's being put out to the iOS or TBOS applications or Roku applications or it was at one point, and our folks kind of got embedded there and have stayed as that ecosystem has changed.
Seth Brown:
We are doing a lot of front-end and design system work, a lot of work with Fractal where we're helping clients clean up these messes where special Snowflake content types and components have accreted over years and years and years. And now it's just a huge mess. And they really need to streamline that and make it so that editors have a better page building experience. They have a really clear clean library of which components they can choose from when they're building pages. And then they can use a tool like Layout Builder and Drupal to put those together much more easily. We help these clients filter down to the most essential content types and make sure that those content types are connected to each other in ways that make sense. So that you don't have 300 content types with 10 different CTA variations that are all slightly different for dumb reasons that are probably related to the presentation layer and not to the actual architecture of the data.
Seth Brown:
So that's where we find ourselves more and more. It's interesting because a lot of agencies right now I think are moving towards how it performs type work. So work-based on analytics, on looking at things like cost per click and click-through rate and total customer lifetime value and ROI and all of these marketing acronyms. And it's tough for us to do that because for a lot of our clients, they're big enough enterprises that they keep that stuff in-house. They keep that stuff to themselves that's sort of their competitive secrets, their competitive strategy. It's not something that they're always willing to share with us.
Seth Brown:
I find instead of how it performs type approach, we find ourselves still more in the how it works space as engineering company, even in the way that we approach design we're doing a lot of work with, as we've mentioned several times with design systems, and I feel like that's sort of engineering systems for editors to create these publishing systems where you've got 20, 30 different websites all springing out from a single entity, whether that's a university or a company or a state government. And so, I think in that sense, Lullabot is a little bit different than agencies that do smaller sites where you are able to get a little more into a client's particular analytics situation and kind of help them with those sorts of things. I feel like now I'm droning on much like the ghost of, I feel like it's the ghost of Christmas past who's quite [inaudible 00:41:25].
Mike Herchel:
Are we still taking on the smaller stuff on occasion like the ... You talk a lot about Mike Large multi-website, design systems and stuff. If you're a college and you want us to work on your website, you should they-
Seth Brown:
Do we do that?
Mike Herchel:
Yeah.
Seth Brown:
Yeah. Should they still call [inaudible 00:41:52]? I'd say, definitely call us. We'd love to have the conversation. Sometimes we take on projects that are smaller in scale or involve fewer folks. And it kind of depends on how availability lines up, but you gave the example of a university and universities are always great to work with because usually, they are doing Drupal in the context of a system of websites, for all sorts of different departments. So, yeah, absolutely.
Mike Herchel:
One of my favorite projects was at the tail end of last year, it was just a couple of months engaged, maybe three months. And it was just moving so fast and it was just like a whole bunch of fun, just because of that ... When they're smaller websites, you tend to have a little bit less bureaucracy in there and you can just kind of get stuff done. And I just had a whole bunch of fun with that one.
Seth Brown:
Nice.
Mike Herchel:
Anyway-
Matt Kleve:
So when talking about Lullabot-
Seth Brown:
I was going to say, I want to mention as we're starting to wind down here that we're hiring a front-end developer right now and-
Matt Kleve:
I was going there.
Seth Brown:
You were going there? Okay, well, let's go there because to use your Dickens analogy, I remember at that first training back in 2007, the analogy that I used to describe Lullabot was, there's this moment where Scrooge is like standing outside of the party at Fezziwig's house, and he's looking in through the window and everybody's happy and having fun and drinking and dancing, and it's this wonderful time being had by all. And I felt a little bit like that when I didn't work at Lullabot, looking through the window, I was "Yeah, man, this is a cool place. I want to get in on that party." So how would I do that if I was a talented front-end developer and I wanted to work with someone like Mike?"
Matt Kleve:
If you go to lullabot.com/jobs it'll tell you, you need to get applied by October 12th, and the sooner the better there. And we'd love to hear from you. So would a new employee have anything to say about the new direction of Lullabot or any changes or anything that they might even need to be aware of about coming to work here?
Seth Brown:
Yeah, they would actually, if they did come to work and all of this goes. Again, we're sort of making promises that in 2020 you feel like they might be challenging to keep, but if all of the things line up and this does happen by December 31st, then a new employee would be part of this ongoing employee ownership, just like everybody else. We're kind of starting fresh on that January 1st, where everyone who is a full-time employee will have a share of Lullabot going forward. And that would include the new people.
Matt Kleve:
So you're not going spearhead the effort for complicated whiteboard interviews or anything like that?
Seth Brown:
No, definitely not.
Matt Kleve:
Very good.
Seth Brown:
I mean, you will be asked to write some JavaScript to define the orbit of planets in the solar system, like on the fly, but you can actually do it in front of us in your terminal instead of using a whiteboard.
Matt Kleve:
As long as Drupal is in the center of that solar system.
Seth Brown:
As long as Drupal lies at the center, the Drupal Solar System.-
Mike Herchel:
[crosstalk 00:45:07] syntax highlighting?
Seth Brown:
You don't do that. That would be mean.
Matt Kleve:
Matt, can you talk about the future at Tugboat? Where are things headed on that front?
Matt Westgate:
Yeah. We've got some really exciting opportunities. Some new features we're thinking of rolling out. We're going to do some updates to the pricing plans in tears. There's a big part of Tugboat that focuses as a tool for agencies. There's probably no spoiler there as Tugboat was a tool started by this agency here, Lullabot as a way to communicate better with our clients. A lot of the workflows that we're thinking about are more optimized towards, "Hey, how do we make this work? Not just for one Tugboat instance, but multiple Tugboat instances for an agency that has a bunch of clients to talk to. We're really excited about that. We're continuing to figure out how we can best support Drupal.org in their infrastructure support to get previews deployed on Drupal core and hopefully, Drupal contribute issues as well. That's kind of where we're going and we're really excited about. Please hit us up, reach out to me, contact me if you want to talk or learn more at tugboat.qa.
Matt Kleve:
Seth, do you have anything to add as we point towards wrapping this up?
Seth Brown:
No. Matt's next journey begins by boat and ours has something to do with the house, but I'm not quite sure exactly what other than that it involves mortgages and complex financial concepts.
Matt Kleve:
On that note, Seth, is somebody replacing your role as COO?
Seth Brown:
That's a great question. Not immediately. We still have Matt as an advisor on the board and I'm going to be doing a lot of things under my former initial, a lot of operational stuff. And we're also lucky to have a really talented group of up and coming leaders who I think are filling in those spaces, particularly I would mention, give a shout out to Darren Peterson who is our new director of projects. Darren, many of our clients know from such projects as NYU Langone in the State of Georgia and Georgia Public Broadcasting, but Sony Pictures. He's done all kinds of big projects for Lullabot, but he is going to be stepping out of a day to day project management role and focusing on making all of Lullabot projects successful. And so that's really where something kind of gets offloaded off of my plate. So I can focus more on the CEO position.
Matt Kleve:
I've worked with Darren for a year or so, and I can vouch for his ability to keep the balls in the air if we want to add another metaphor.
Seth Brown:
Yes.
Matt Kleve:
Very good.
Seth Brown:
He's a master carpenter juggler.
Matt Kleve:
Matt, is there anything else you'd like to add?
Matt Westgate:
No, there isn't.
Matt Kleve:
Words of wisdom?
Matt Westgate:
It's exciting. People have questions or concerns or want to learn more about any of the AESOP stuff we're doing. Feel free to reach out. We're really excited about this ownership model and what I can provide.
Matt Kleve:
Chairman of the board is a cool title.
Matt Westgate:
Let's do chairperson.
Matt Kleve:
Okay. It was so Sinatra, I don't know. Thanks, everybody.
Seth Brown:
Thank you, Matt. Thanks, Mike. If I say thank you, Matt, does that include all the Matt?
Matt Kleve:
I think so.
Seth Brown:
[crosstalk 00:48:58] I'll to say, thank you, Matts.
Matt Kleve:
Thank you, Matts.
Matt Westgate:
Thanks, friends.

Published in

About host Matt Kleve

Portrait of Matt Kleve
Matt Kleve has been a Drupal developer since 2007. His previous work in the media sparks a desire to create lean, easy to use workflow processes.

About host Mike Herchel

Thumbnail
A senior front-end developer, Mike is also a lead of the Drupal 9 core "Olivero" theme initiative, organizer for Florida DrupalCamp, maintainer for the Drupal Quicklink module, and an expert hammocker