Why I just declined a job offer from a billionaire friend

This is an expanded version of a LinkedIn post I wrote the other day.

The first email I read this week was this one I received from a billionaire friend, who wanted to talk to me on very short notice:

He's the founder and CEO of a pretty large and well known company he still largely owns, and I respect him a lot so I won't reveal his identity.

We were in touch sometime last year for a potential collaboration that didn't work out, and he reached out again after seeing some of my recent LinkedIn content, after I started talking more about the things I'm building lately.

(I'm working on AWS Savings Plan automation, a NAT Gateway alternative and just released my RDS rightsizing tool and will soon release many more under the 37signals ONCE model.)

We had a little catch up and then he basically offered to hire me at his company on a pretty high profile role. It's an amazing company many people in my industry would love to work for, and I even considered applying a few years back.

I was quite surprised when I heard his proposal and didn't really know how to react.

I just told him politely that I'm not interested in permanent employment, but I would love to collaborate on certain projects as a sort of joint venture.

We then talked a bit more and eventually parted ways.

Later in the evening when I told my wife she couldn't believe how I could blow up such an amazing opportunity.

I expected a scolding, since she isn't particularly fond of me being a solopreneur, and keeps bringing the topic of finding a job every now and then, usually after I have the occasional failures.

She said I should have just told him like "where do I sign?" and such stuff, or at least that I will think about it, instead of just declining the offer.

This was clearly a huge opportunity for me to make some serious money, but somehow I have no regrets for declining it.

I've worked in big companies for most of my career and I know they come with all sorts of policies and red tape. I really respect the founder and the company and I'm sure they would have tried to make special arrangements to make it better for me. I had similar arrangements from my skip manager when I joined AWS, only to see a few months later that they couldn't be implemented.

And also I would feel bad for getting any special treatment, and deep inside I would later surely regret suddenly giving up what I'm doing after so much hard work over the last year and a half.

I feel I'm onto something much bigger that I can probably even imagine right now, just need to be patient and execute on my vision.

I remember I felt the same back in 2018-2019, a couple of years after I released AutoSpotting as Open Source.

I went on meetups and people I had never met before came to talk to me and asked me about my project. I started getting calls from VCs who wanted to fund my "company", which was at the time just an Open Source project I was building on the side.

But then when I tried to make a living out of AutoSpotting I messed up my first monetization attempt and I didn't have enough time to figure it out. We had just bought a house, had a 2 years old so desperately needed my full time job and didn't have time for such experiments.

Only when I joined AWS a couple of years later I realized how massive AutoSpotting actually was at the time. A significant percentage of all Spot instances at the time and some of the largest Spot customers were using my Open Source code to save in the tens of millions yearly. The largest appeared on stage at re:invent telling they had adopted Spot in record time, but AWS didn't agree to them reveal how.

Apparently some very senior folks were very much against such external tooling and made sure it's not mentioned.

It never happened to me since, but lately I started to see some signs that people notice what I do, especially after recently started building in public the NAT solution and the Savings Plan automation I'm working on.

On Monday, besides this email from my billionaire friend, I also woke up to more than a dozen people who connected to me on LinkedIn after seeing my recent content.

I guess that's a sign I'm onto something, just need to keep executing.

And this time I'm prepared to stick with it as long as it takes.