As midnight approaches in California, I want to take a moment to thank all of you for such a special year.
Starting and now running Hack Club has always been a deeply personal experience for me. When I was 16, I dropped out of high school not because I was too smart for school, but because I was lonely and most days couldn’t summon the motivation to show up to class. Every day was so tough, mostly because I longed for friends like all of you.
2019 has been such a different year for me. For the first time since starting Hack Club, my job hasn’t been to work with you. Instead, I’ve had to learn how to build and run an organization. A big part of that has been trying to get donations. In 2018, we received just short of $300,000. This year, we received nearly $2,000,000. This is a lot of money and now my big challenge is to figure out how to best spend it.
A big part of that is probably going to mean growing HQ’s paid staff, particularly around making sure we can continue to get donations. But I also want us to do bigger projects that we haven’t been able to do before, like run an even-better Flagship this summer. This year, I want HQ to make the the first real Hack Club t-shirts (and they should be great). I want HQ to completely open source our finances, like we used to do (https://github.com/hackclub/ledger). I want our support for new and existing club leaders to get way better. I want HQ to run on Hack Club Bank. I want to go to more hackathons. And I want to spend more time with all of you.
Another part of learning to build and run an organization has been learning to hire paid staff and to be a good manager, and I still have a long way to go for both. This year, @cwalker, @md, and @thesephist joined @msw and me at HQ as paid staff. To the three of you: thank you for sticking with me when it’s been clear there are so many ways for me to grow as a leader. To @msw: thank you for being here from the beginning and doing what only you can do. Hack Club wouldn’t be Hack Club without you. This decade, I became a teenager and later an adult. I helped launch my first app and got my first million downloads. I had my first kiss and later broke up with my first girlfriend. I dropped out, became financially independent, and moved out. My childhood cat, Mr. Pearl, died and I cried. The first articles about me were written. I traveled to the East Coast and later outside of North America for the first time. I read the first half of Infinite Jest.
As I reflect, nothing comes close to feeling as meaningful or as important as being part of Hack Club today. Tonight, I’m spending New Year’s Eve alone, reflecting, and I’m thinking about all of you. When I was in high school, I would have killed for this.