Around January of 2015 I had a good friend reach out to me about a position at a company in Santa Monica. He was hired a few months prior and had been making the trek from the valley. I met up with him at a local bar to catch up and hear what he had to say. After going back and fourth for around five weeks, I recall him finally saying they had a deadline that seemed impossible with the developers they currently had (they had little to no knowledge of WordPress the stack in which the project was mostly written in) and if I didn’t join they wouldn’t complete on-time.
This would be my first agile and corporate job.
Around that same time I was working on a fairly sizeable project that ended earlier than I was expecting and for some unknown reason didn’t have anything initially lined up. So, in February I had one phone interview with another Beachbody employee and the following week I was hired as a contractor. This would be my first agile and corporate job. 😬
From the very beginning, I found my team to be in constant flux with no direction or knowledge of how this new business idea would be launch-able. The first week was daily meetings hours on end and when I wasn’t in a meeting I was looking at the code thinking to myself “how could this be ready for a public launch” in four months time.
For a little backstory, I learned (from the meetings) that this product was going to be launched in the UK only. But my friend Marty had told me at some point that someone outside of the team said that they would also be launching this product in the US 🤔. Here is where things stated to get interesting. Why you ask? Because all of the code previously written had been hard-coded with values that would only apply to a site that would be accessed in the United Kingdomm. Luckily (for them) regardless of the businesses initial launch date I pushed and pushed with the business for more time. They finally agreed and we got an extra 6 weeks.
Those extra six weeks would prove to be key in the success of what is now Beachbody LIVE.
After the push-back I was able to build a Settings API that all our developers could hook their code into so settings could be changed by any CMS admin user. No more hard-coded British pound symbols or other settings that needed to be dynamic. Those extra six weeks would prove to be key in the success of what is now Beachbody LIVE. Because after we successfully launched in the UK, business would come to us and request we launch the site in the US with a nice little four week notice 😒. Without the settings API controller that would have been impossible.
In the first year at Beachbody I went from a contractor to full-time and had helped them launch a new division which to this day is their fastest growing revenue for a product after inception.
Beachbody LIVE Version 2
With the success of Beachbody LIVE the business started contemplating a refresh. So around January of 2016, we got word that our team was about to increase 20 fold 1.
Just like in the beginning January was mostly filled with meetings and introductions to all of the new developers. Since I was one of the only ones left from the first project I helped bring everyone up to speed on how the legacy platform worked and then we discussed our architecture strategy for the new application. I’ll be honest, I was pretty excited with the direction we were going in. Once the platforms were weighed and selected our stack choice was next. I got a lot of push-back 😞 on this but I eventually got everyone on board with PHP 7 which all developers thanked me once we were deep into PHP development.
Beachbody as a company started feeling its age.
For the most part the project was moving along just fine. Of course just fine has different meaning from my perspective that the companies. Again their demands for the project were inconceivable and our deadline for launch was not-possible. But the team now had two product managers and a project lead that could circumvent business requests and allow developers to work and avoid meeting after meeting. Yay Agile!
Without digressing too much, most of 2016 Beachbody as a company (how do I say this lightly) started feeling its age 2.
The Here and Now
I’m going to skip over a lot, now that I’ve had a few days to think about the past two years at Beachbody.
With the project end in sight and our team working through the final few sprints for our tech-ready date, Beachbody made an announcement. That brings me to the now. I’m no longer working with Beahcbody and that has me pretty
angry upset. But why would I be angry upset? If you’ve read most of this post you’d know that there were many that helped build and launch the LIVE project, but I was one of two left since the beginning. I am just going to leave it at that.
Regardless of my feelings towards the project I can’t complete. I learned a lot, met a lot of great people and I thank those people for the time and knowledge.
My Only Regret
There is not much I could do about this. From the beginning I tried to get Beachbody to contribute in anyway shape or form to an open-source project. I was denied every single time. Over the two year period I know I had written at least ~7 WordPress plugins that would have been great candidates for open-source and could have been hosted on the Beachbody GitHub account.
I am looking for my next project.
- After the successful launch in the US, Marty left and we let go one of two developers. Which left two developers; one which was myself and the other was moved off the project a month later. Before the end of 2015 the team did finally get a manager and another developer.
- One thing I know for sure. Don’t put all your eggs into an old basket. #vague