As many of you know, three years ago my Chapter Three co-founders and I started another company called Pantheon. Since then we’ve been working full-time on that, turning over the reins at Chapter Three to a leadership team who’ve made amazing things happen in our absence. While you can read all about Pantheon on its own website, we haven’t spoken publicly about the organizational changes at Chapter Three until now.
Indeed, I find that community members are sometimes surprised to hear that Matt, Zack and myself are no longer involved in the day to day operation of Chapter Three. This was a necessary choice. We had to make a solid transition — to “fire ourselves”; literally stop showing up and stop drawing a paycheck — in order to do it right on both ends.
As a startup, for Pantheon to even have a chance it demanded 110%. Likewise, the only way for Chapter Three to establish it’s own identity independent of its original founders was for us to step away and let other people take over.
Promoting From Within
It wasn’t an easy transition, but things started clicking once we realized that the best talent to lead Chapter Three was already close at hand. The expertise in applying Drupal to solve organizational problems is still exceedingly rare as a specialty. True experts are very hard to find, and so we decided that the best way forward was to bring people up from within the company and the community to form a new leadership team.
Stephanie Canon is one of Chapter Three’s two Managing Partners, the dynamo at the heart of Chapter Three’s productivity and processes. She began as a project manager four years ago, and has continually risen to every challenge since. Her acumen at operations is formidable and she orchestrates all the moving pieces at Chapter Three with alacrity. In addition, she has a nose for client success that can only be developed via front-line experience, something that’s invaluable at the executive level.
John Faber, our second Managing Partner, brings two decades of experience literally building the internet, starting as the founder of one of the fastest-growing ISPs in the 90s. In keeping with the “recruiting from within” theme, was a pivotal figure in the San Francisco Drupal community when we were lucky enough to recruit him in 2010. He brings an entrepreneurial edge as well as the expertise and gravitas necessary in managing strategic business relationships. Since joining Chapter Three, he’s been instrumental in expanding our project portfolio, recruiting new talent, and raising the level of Chapter Three client satisfaction across the board.
John and Stephanie compliment one another as an executive duo, both in personal style, and also from a skill-set perspective. Together they have all aspects of Chapter Three covered from a business perspective.
Each practice focus of Chapter Three now has its own formal director. These experts lead the teams who get the job done on a daily basis, and are constantly seeking the cutting edge of what can bring the most joy to their work and results to our clients.
Nica Lorber is our Creative Director. She was the first “manager-level” hire at Chapter Three, establishing the design practice and transforming the company. She manages the design team and our strategy process, advocating tirelessly for the perspective of the user and the imperative of customer goals. She also built and continues to maintain the brand vision for Chapter Three, and keeps our team hungry, growing, and fresh internally by leading the weekly internal improvement roundtable.
Mark Ferree, our Director of Engineering, was another promotion from within the community, recruited via his involvement in BADCamp and SFDUG. He brings a critical quality of calm competence to what can often feel like a “cowboy” kind of process. In addition to running the development team and architecting larger projects, he also helps build skills with newer developers, and instills the technical organization with the kind of processes that insure projects are successful time after time.
Together with Stephanie and John, Nica and Mark manage Chapter Three’s projects and deliver results for our clients.
The Next Chapter
The founding partners’ ongoing role at Chapter Three is effectively as a kind of “Board of Directors” for the company. That means providing tactical and strategic advice, ratifying long-term goals, and reviewing results. By being removed from the day-to-day, the board can provide a perspective that’s easy to lose in the hurlyburly of running a top-flight web agency (as we all well know).
While it’s honestly been a struggle at times for us to to let go as founders, this leadership team is running the company more effectively than ever. As they’ve gelled, the results speak for themselves. Chapter Three is stronger and more stable than at any time in its history, ready to build on our success as a pioneer in this vital and flourishing market.
In case you didn’t know, the next chapter has already begun.