The Great In-Between

Few people have been privy to what has truly been going on in my life the past year and a half. Before June 2009 I was perhaps even more quiet about things, but it was widely known I was working at Apple as a Front-end dev/UI Engineer—first at the Online Store, then MobileMe—and as is par for the course with Apple employees, not much about their work & lives is discussed in public.

But when I left Apple in mid-2009, I had no clear direction for myself. I had three promising directions I wanted to pursue, but none of them were one-man ventures. I set out to find co-founders and took the opportunity of my new-found free time to do an open-ended road trip across the entire United States. It lasted for 7 weeks, 11,500 miles and included the complete Route 66 experience. It was amazing, and at the end of the road trip I was positively bursting with enthusiasm and ideas for products to build. I’d also found two interested parties to co-found a company with me.

And I was also very much without a U.S. work visa.

The majority of you reading this have probably never looked into starting a company in the U.S. as a non-citizen (and non-Greencard holder), and may well not be aware that such an undertaking is dramatically different than it is as a citizen. The latter pays a simple registration fee of somewhere between $20 and $100, on average, and that’s it. In my case as a foreign individual, it involved raising $500,000 in funding and have the added requirement that I’d need to employ ten Americans in my company by the end of the first two years. It put a bit of a damper on things, as I was (and still am) not sure I wanted to go the VC-funding route with my company and product ideas.

Adding to all of that was an ongoing personal and medical condition (fortunately now completely resolved) that made my life progressively more difficult and complicated and, paired with very frequent travel across both the U.S. and Europe, extremely tiring.

A lot of time went by wherein I continued to do freelancing on the side whilst trying to figure out what I wanted to do next, which product I wanted to build next. All this time, however, I was without a U.S. work visa so I lived back in The Netherlands and only visited the U.S. for conferences. It taught me one thing very clearly: I love the Pacific West coast. And so my new, higher priority became getting back to San Francisco.

This weekend, after many, many months of preparing a new visa application and collaborating with my sponsoring (new) employers, I have finally returned. With a shiny new O-1 visa in hand, I started my new position this past Monday at Apture, Inc. What I will be doing exactly I can’t say, but I can say that it involves design, front-end development, and bringing a decade of experience and expertise to this company.

There is a lot more that I will be sharing with you over the coming weeks, including more about what Apture is and does, but right now it’s time for me to go celebrate my return. It was 21 months to the date between my departure and my return—a long wait to be sure—but however long it was, it was worth the wait.

It’s good to be back.

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