When news broke over the summer that Jeremy Lin was leaving the New York Knicks for the Houston Rockets, it coincided with my decision to leave Tumblr, too.
Linsanity hooked me. I called NY home. I was an Asian-American, Ivy-League grad, and Bible study nerd throughout high school and college. (And I always can dunk with authority in my daydreams.)
Jeremy’s story reflected the grit and dedication of hustlers everywhere. The kid got a chance (finally!) under the bright lights of Gotham and made the best of his time. He succeeded because he had real joy for the game. He got teammates involved, sank shots, closed out games, and ultimately produced wins.
Tumblr was my chance under the bright lights. I got to work on a beautiful product that I used every day. I loved thinking about how Tumblr could be a force for good in the wider world, because Tumblr encouraged me to be more creative in my private world. How many companies can stake that claim?
Like the frenzied months of Linsanity, my time at Tumblr were months of hustle. My teammates were supremely talented. And we built features the right way — by supporting each other and sweating the details. I’m proud of the stuff we pushed out.
The share tools, Spotlight clusters, tag pages, photosets, dashboard designs, mobile apps, customize, and more discovery of content/contacts for a global community — these features, I think, are foundation blocks for a network that’s central to self expression and inspiration.
Jeremy moved onwards to Houston during the summer shuffle. In a weird way, Lin’s decision coincided with my thoughts about moving on, too. It’s hard to leave the bright lights, but easy to move on when I consider the idea of owning my own adventures. And I think for both of us, it was the right time to go, the right time to make our mark.
The Rockets are in the midst of rebuilding, and Jeremy is going to have to step up and lead the team. It’s exciting and terrifying.
I wish him the best. In 1-2 years, Lin could be the face of the franchise. Houston is his chance to build something completely from the ground up.
For me, this next period is a bit of rebuilding, too. I’m taking some time off to recharge, to talk, to ask questions — to travel. There are some ideas that excite me, but I have to put in the practice and work to get the skills right. And most exciting for me, there’s room for me to make A New Thing completely from the ground up.
In the end, as a basketball player, you love to play. You want minutes, and you want to be on a team and in a system that rewards your talent. No one can take away Lin’s accomplishments as a Knick, but he has turned his focus to the future. I’m going to look ahead, too. That’s how legacies are made.