Having heard the news that Evan Robinson is quitting his job at Adobe Systems, we're sure that you have many questions. This FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) document is intended to assist you with as many of your questions as possible. Please do not bother Evan Robinson with questions about his quitting until you have read this document and determined that it does not answer your particular question. If there is information that you think should be in this FAQ, feel free to contact Evan.
Why Is Evan Quitting?
There are two general classes of reasons Evan is quitting his job at Adobe Systems: Internal and External.
Internal. Evan's job is no longer making him happy. He does not feel fulfilled in his work as an Individual Contributor to the next version of Acrobat. Evan does not feel that he is Making A Difference because no one seems to care about what users want. Evan has two homeschooled children (a boy, 8 and a girl, 11) with whom he would like to spend more time, and a lovely wife of whom he would like to see more. He also has hobbies and familial duties to which he is unable to give proper attention, such as Video Editing, Photography, Writing, Managing His Parent's Estate and a Trust, Helping Around The House, and perhaps even Travelling.
External. When Evan joined Adobe 4 1/2 years ago, he came to an organization that was interested in having a good software process. In the beginning, working for Greg Gilley meant that he could say things like "we should do this in the right order and follow generally accepted engineering practices" and someone who counted would pay attention to him. But now Adobe has changed. Adobe seems to think that Marketing and Finance should decide how long it takes to build a large software product like Acrobat, and that it's OK to finish up the requirements documents 5 months before the product is supposed to be feature complete (in a 2 year development cycle). Lots of people at lower levels (engineers, engineering managers, even some directors) know that this isn't a good idea, but the organization as a whole likes it this way. Evan doesn't like it this way. Evan hates having to do things the wrong way. He knows that it makes life harder for everybody except the people who, under the current regime, don't have to do their jobs correctly.
The quick summary is that Evan's salary is no longer worth feeling bad about the way he is asked to work.
Were There Specific Events That Led Evan to Quit?
There are lots of things. Here are a few:
But if you mean "did someone piss Evan off really badly recently and make him decide to quit?", then the answer is no.
Is There Something Adobe Could Do To Keep Evan Working There?
Well, of course, there is something that they *could* do. But there's nothing that Evan thinks they *would* do.
Does Evan Have Anything Specific To Say?
In my 20's, I bought into an abusive development system in the games industry. I was young, and it was OK to work 80 hour weeks because I loved my job and I didn't have much of a life -- I was even married to my programming partner.
In my 30's, I fought against the abusive development system by joining it. I became a technical auditor and project manager who could establish development rules and development schedules, and eventually a development manager who could run the whole show (even Director of Games Engineering at Rocket Science Games), because I was tired of working for people who didn't know how development should be done. What I learned (and finally accepted at Adobe) is that lots of those people *did* know how it should be done -- they just didn't work for a company that would let them do it.
Now I am in my 40's (just barely), and I refuse to contribute to this system any more. I have tried, while at Adobe, to demonstrate better techniques and how well they work. I think that my work on Reflow for Acrobat 5 and initial work for Table Reflow on Acrobat 6 demonstrated that discipline creates better software on better schedules. But the generally disheveled state of Acrobat project management saps so much of my motivation that I will not deal with it anymore. And while I cite Acrobat as a specific, Adobe's software development system in general is equally bad.
My mental health is more important than my salary.
Does Evan Have any Regrets About Leaving Adobe?
Evan will miss many of the people he knows at Adobe. Many of them he hired in when he was a manager. Some of them helped him along his path. Some of them are the best friends he has. Some of them gave him big chances to do good work that made a difference.
Evan will also miss being part of a big family that cares about its members. Adobe takes quite good care of its people -- except for making them work in stupid ways.
Evan will also miss his paycheck. But not enough to keep taking it.
What Will Evan Do Now?
Evan is not entirely sure. Step one is leaving Adobe. Step two is a lot of work on the house and the stuff inside it, which will take at least a few months. After that, the house might get sold, and Evan might move, or Evan might hit the road in an RV, or maybe Evan will get The Next Great Idea and start working again. Maybe Evan will just take pictures and make movies and play with the kids and kiss his wife and program for fun until Something Better Comes Along, which might be a very, very, very long time.