Phase shifting

I’ve noticed a cycle in my workflow that runs back a long time, probably into high school, runs throughout college, has stuck with me to this day. See, I seem to be a creature of phases, of renewal and curiousity and exploration. I seek out new challenges, take the road not even noticed, make things harder for myself. I can’t explain it. It’s just how I operate. I don’t slow down. I jump sideways. I phase shift.

And whenever I’ve found myself within the boundaries of some kind of institution, be it school, be it a job, be it just about anything that slows me down, chemicals and ideas within me start reacting, my energy changes, I reorient to address what’s in front of me. Sometimes, change ensues.

And so it’s been that for the last nine months I’ve had a full time gig at Flock — stumbling a whole lot, learning all kinds of great stuff, meeting and working with tremendously insightful individuals, traveling the world, falling in love, working long nights and sleeping less than I did in college; I’ve been in constant motion, bouncing along in the cockpit, weathering turbulent times both within and without our stuttering startup. I’ve struggled to find my footing, landing some successes that I’m really proud of, other times disappointing my colleagues and myself with my output (or lack thereof). I’m human, hey, and I’ve still got so much — so much — to learn. But throughout, ya know, it’s been a thoroughly enthralling experience.

Ok, to get to it already: as of April 1, I’ll be a free agent. This is wholly my choice and at my own discretion. Indeed, I initiated it. And the good folks at Flock are supporting me in this decision. In fact, they’re going to be my first “client” as I return to the land of independent consulting (which is what I was doing when I first moved out to San Francisco).

So the motivation? Well, first off, I thrive in small teams — where collaboration includes everyone, from top to bottom. This is how things started out at Flock, but due to the crazy demands of building a browser, just isn’t as feasible any more as we’ve grown to take on new and more diverse talent. Second, I want to focus more on the ambassadorial part of the position I’ve held at Flock (Barcamp, coworking, Mashpit, WineCamp, Microformats and all the rest). And to do that, I need more independence and the ability to flow between projects — to grow into some sort of an open source “editor at large”. Third, the timing is right. With Flock having just completed its move to and a number of internal reshufflings, I figure it’s time to exit stage left while things are really just getting off the ground and Flock’s internal culture is being formed. The past nine months have been getting us down the runway, and now that we’ve taken to flight, the next nine will determine what Flock is going to look like. And really, I’m going to be most effective out in the field, liasoning between projects and doing focused design work on the browser. So it’s all good — we’ve discussed this and it really does make sense.

So this bit about sublimating… here’s what convinced me that this is the right thing for me right now: the cycle that I go through with jobs and structure and so on is like the ice → vapor sublimation process. I started out at Flock as vapor, all energy, busting with ideas and ready to take on the world. Over time, I learned the ropes, slowed down a bit, condensed into water: amorphous and flowing, moving from one thing to the next. And now, as has happened with previous projects, I’ve turned to an idle form of ice, ready to sublimate into a new form of volatility, ready to take on the next challenges, to surface the next horizon, my next big thing.


  1. ben barren said
    at 1am on Mar 20th # |

    congrats man thats awesome. ive gotta update u on structured blogging wpmu project im doing at a local level. very maaad. congrats again, bb

  2. NoteMe said
    at 2am on Mar 20th # |

    Hmmm…after reading this, I am not sure if I should say congrats or I am sorry to hear that..:)

    But I guess a congratulation for finding your way in life is more appopriate..:)

    – ØØ -

  3. Brent O. said
    at 3am on Mar 20th # |

    Wow, man, I’m excited for you. I’m even excited for me, because it means I’ll be seeing some interesting non-Flock stuff on your blog, hahaha. Not that I don’t love Flock! Just curious to see what you run off to next.

  4. tyfn said
    at 4am on Mar 20th # |

    Congrats on the taking the plunge for the next step as Ambassador of Experience. Glad to have met up at tagcamp and I’m loving my flock t-shirt.

    Let me know when you and your PiC are in Vancouver.


  5. C9 said
    at 5am on Mar 20th # |

    Hi Chris. You’ve been inspiring in your work and it’s been neat to watch you go from vapor to water (which I think has its own growth opportunities), to watching the secondary thoughts begin to take on a new form and see your particle density shake loose again. You’re now rather firmly implanted in a certain orbit that I can only think will help you stabelize success. Keep us informed. In a few months I think our little baby might use some of your energy & expertise.


  6. Daryl said
    at 6am on Mar 20th # |

    This is going to turn out to be an April Fool’s joke, right?

  7. at 7am on Mar 20th # |

    Alternative title: FactoryJoe, unflocked.

    Does it make you more cool or less cool? ’cause I am only friends with cool people.

    Seriously — congratulations. You needed that.

  8. CaptQuirk said
    at 7am on Mar 20th # |


    Every man’s life consists of some decisions that only make sense to him. It takes courage to follow your own path without requiring that everyone understand or approve of it. It takes couorage to be the unique person you are. Because I respect that kind of courage, I applaud your decision, though like Daryl, I hope this turns out to be an April Fool’s joke. If it’s not though, I wish you the best.

  9. Eric Skiff said
    at 11am on Mar 20th # |

    Wow… Good luck Chris and good luck Flock! I hope they find someone as passionate and intelligent as you to keep the lines of communication open, and I hope you find something as exciting and inspiring to champion!

  10. luxuryluke said
    at 12pm on Mar 20th # |

    Same as Eric, I hope you find the next foothold to be as invigorating as Flock was for you. We’re all watching you and hoping to hear of your steps soon. Keep it up, pal!

  11. tagami said
    at 1pm on Mar 20th # |

    Congrats Chris! Free agent on April fools… hmmm ;)

    I look forward to your new adventures. This means I might be able to tap into your creative consciousness on a new collaborative project – weeee!

    RE: sublimation. There’s something to be said about the power of glacial movement. It’s a shame it takes so damn long. Therefore, I raise my glass in a toast to phase transitions!

  12. at 2pm on Mar 20th # |

    This is pretty neat. Does this mean you’ll be coming to more DevHouses?

  13. Adam said
    at 4pm on Mar 20th # |

    Ooo! You could join forces with Niall Kennedy… :)

  14. at 4pm on Mar 20th # |

    Congrats for taking the plunge! Less of a commute, and you can join the beduin office crowd hopping between cafes in search of the best coworking environment.

  15. FactoryJoe said
    at 6pm on Mar 20th # |


    And no, Daryl, this isn’t an April Fool’s joke. ;)

    And everyone else — thanks for all your support. I’m jazzed about the number of opportunities coming out of the wood work — so many great opportunities — so little time!

  16. at 7pm on Mar 20th # |

    You heard it here first…

    Messina Pre-Paid Legal Services to be launched in mid to late April.

  17. Holly said
    at 8pm on Mar 20th # |

    Good for you! You are going to be a fabulous success, I just know it. Keep us all posted, this is going to be very interesting.

  18. david said
    at 3am on Mar 21st # |

    Congrats! It’s great out here in the free agent nation. I haven’t had a ‘job’ in a year.

    good luck!

  19. jakedahn said
    at 6am on Mar 21st # |

    Hmmm, I’m speachless. The one person who pretty much hyped the hell out of flock to get me started with it, is leaving. I’ve never expirienced anything like this before, it feels kinda strange to see someone just go away, as easy and simple as that.

    on a lighter note, Good luck! I think the feild will be better, in a sense that the field will be more exciting, entertaining, and will promote MANY more great ideas.

    Just make sure to stop by in #flock everyonce in a while. ;-)

  20. Alicia said
    at 11am on Mar 21st # |

    Editor at large = Full time mafioso. This is excellent news, I’m really happy for you.

  21. at 1pm on Mar 21st # |

    good luck on your journey

  22. at 4pm on Mar 21st # |

    I will greatly miss the close proximity of your energies and skills. I look forward to working and playing with you throughout our careers.

  23. David said
    at 10pm on Mar 21st # |

    A big big loss for Flock; they will feel the pain. Let’s try to get a drink soon and see what interests you. I’m sure I can throw some clients your way.

    Good luck!

  24. LouCypher said
    at 11am on Mar 22nd # |

    This is the second time I see you go. And like the first, there’s nothing I can do.
    Good luck.

  25. at 3pm on Mar 22nd # |

    I have to repeat that: good luck, may the force be with you and many many good ideas.

    Keep up the good work – and I’m curious on what we’re going to see.


  26. Yoz said
    at 5pm on Mar 23rd # |

    So this means more cool projects out there will get the Messina Magic? Excellent news! And well done. :)

  27. Blake said
    at 8pm on Mar 23rd # |


    Best of luck wherever you go next.


  28. at 10am on Mar 24th # |

    This is great news Chris – congrats.

    now you will have time to come to Ireland and sample some real beer (i.e. Murphys Stout)!

    Looking forward to seeing you in Cork!


  29. at 6pm on Mar 29th # |

    Hello Chris:

    I’m really new to blogging, even though I’ve been involved with web browsers (as a user) since they started way back with Mosaic, Gopher, Veronica and Archie.

    I’m very excited with the way Flock is evolving. Have been using it since day one. Since you were part of the original team, it’s a little sad to see you go. However, you have to follow your dreams or “gut feeling”. The Spanish poet said it best when he said, “Caminante no hay camino, se hace camino al andar”. Walker, there is no road, you make the road when you walk. Go ahead and make your roads for other to follow, there is still of lot in you to share with all of us.

    Best of luck,


  30. at 2am on Sep 25th # |

    Sounds kinda cool. Im intrigued!

14 Trackbacks

  1. chris messina leaves flock…

    Chris Messina reports that after about 9 months he’s leaving Flock…….

  2. […] 1 down, 21 to go. […]

  3. […] To me Flock is the poster child for the bad side of Web 2.0, a solution without a problem. Chris Messina says he’s leaving because basically he doesn’t like working with lots of people, or something he describes as (and I kid you not on this) the “vapor sublimation process”. Talking like this I’ve got no doubt he’ll fit in really well with the next Snake Oil Web 2.0 startup he ties up with. Of course the reality is the long tail might be long enough to sustain the like of Flock into the future. It’s easy to criticise companies like this because of the public profile they have, but with Google money coming in through search (like the Mozilla foundation has) Flock may even break even. Although with some 20 odd staff I’d think they’d be wanting to get something out there in the marketplace pretty soon. When you are talking those sorts of numbers you are talking Web 1.0 burn rates. Compare this with say NewsVine who I understand is burning less that $100k per month. Now that’s a sustainable way to start a business. […]

  4. BrainJams on Mar 23rd at 10pm

    Anger is a better emotion than worry……

    I said that about a week ago when a friend’s sister had not shown up for a party she was expected at and then was not heard from again (despite numerous calls) for several days. She was starting to worry about her, and where she might be and if every…

  5. […] So yeah, in case you missed it, I’m out on my own now, doing the indie consulting thing, which, incidently, is what I came out to San Francisco to do in the first place. It’s just that now I’ve actually got clients who are… hrmm… local. Weird. […]

  6. […] In case you missed it (and I don’t really blog too much about personal stuff much, but it’s okay to be a little human once and again), Tara and Riya have bid each other their farewells and both are moving on to the next chapters of their storied Web 2.0 lives. Not unlike a certain fella you may know. Hmmh. Funny, n’est-ce pas? […]

  7. […] So in case you missed it, Tara left Riya very recently, following a trend that’s at least a couple months old (but blowing out recently). […]

  8. […] Well, whatever… if I can’t get over my self-aggrandizement, I guess I never will. Fooey on my self-importance. […]

  9. […] Beta 1 (v0.7). Let’s not forget that their founding CEO has quit along with their loudest cheerleader and you have signs of a company that is in trouble no matter how much the crowds want them to succeed. […]

  10. […] Beta 1 (v0.7). Lets not forget that their founding CEO has quit along with their loudest cheerleader and you have signs of a company that is in trouble no matter how much the crowds want them to succeed. […]

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  12. Sublimating at Will Pate on Dec 11th at 3pm

    […] If you’re wondering where I got the blog post title from, well Chris Messina and Andy Smith both used the same one when they became Flock alumni too. […]

  13. […] Skip forward several disappointing browser releases later (instead of browsing to your blog to make a new entry you could type in a special browser text box… wow… yeah… um). That’s what they raised $2-3 million in venture capital for?! And they’re implying that there users are sheep? Now comes word that the company built on more feel-good philosophy than common sense has fired its CEO, Bart Decrem. At least Chris Messina had the good sense to get out back in March. Spread the Propoganda:These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. […]

  14. […] 1 (v0.7). Let’s not forget that their founding CEO has quit along with their loudest cheerleader and you have signs of a company that is in trouble no matter how much the crowds want them to […]