Big day today!

The book is now available from stores worldwide! E-book, hardcover (amazon-only), and softcover! The audiobook will be available soon as well.

If you’ve appreciated what I’ve been sharing in this newsletter and the podcast, please consider buying a copy.

AmazonBookshop.orgBarnes & NobleThriftbooksKoboBooktopiaFoyles, and many other locations!

Big news for 2024!

I’m thrilled for this year because I am publishing my first book! This is the work of three (or twelve, depending on how you count it) years. The book, “It Depends: Writing on Technology Leadership 2012-2022,” includes content from this blog and articles originally published elsewhere. I took all those articles, cleaned up the grammar, edited for clarity, and organized them into themes and logical progression. This is something that I’ve been meaning to do for a while, and it took me longer than I expected to finish it, but I’m proud of the result.

The book "It Depends: Writing on Technology Leadership 2012-2022" sitting on a table

The book will be released by Unit Circle Press in March. More information about pre-ordering will be available soon. I also just finished recording the audiobook version, which should be available around the same time.

I’ve also launched two new projects to support the book’s launch. A newsletter and a podcast. I will be serializing the book in the newsletter and serializing the audiobook in the podcast. Both will feature extra content like answers to your questions and additional context around the chapters. The first newsletter and podcast episode are now available. They are both free! Please subscribe to the newsletter and subscribe to the podcast on Spotify, Apple, Google, Amazon or wherever you get your podcasts!

Please check out the book website for more information.

The next step

If you have a good job, a job that pays you well, a team you like working with, and a mission you believe in, deciding to move on from that role is challenging.

In leaving a good job, you are giving up security and certainty. You are well aware of the privilege you have because so many people are stuck in jobs that they hate, where they are not well paid.

However, sometimes leaving is exactly the thing you need to do. Even a good job is not necessarily the right job for you and for where you want to go.

I have enjoyed my journey with AstrumU. I am proud of the team that we built. I am proud of the things that we accomplished. I joined because I was interested in the challenge of creating something from scratch again: a team, a product, a company. I hadn’t done that in a long time. The AstrumU mission is something I genuinely believe in. Adam, the CEO, built an impressive team before I even joined, and that was also inspiring.

After ten months with the company though, I realized while the role was a good one, it wasn’t the right one for me. I wasn’t the right one for it either.

I’ve spent the last seven years of my career building and scaling larger technology organizations and products. Those are the challenges that I’ve come to enjoy. I’ve developed a skill set around scaling teams, and I want to continue to develop those skills. Eventually, I would be able to do that at AstrumU, but the company doesn’t need those skills today.

As I was pondering what to do, I got an exciting message from one of the founders of Onfido. Onfido is a company focused on validating identity. They use very sophisticated computer vision and machine learning paired with trained humans to help people prove who they are and help companies avoid fraud.

Onfido has been growing quickly and needed a CTO who could help them grow well. The opportunity is perfect for me. It combines areas where I have technical expertise with areas that I’m interested in developing deeper. There is a good size organization, that is growing rapidly. There is a massive opportunity, and the company is well positioned to capture it with the right leadership.

Most importantly, the founders realized the importance of establishing a strong company culture very early. The culture of Onfido reminds me of many of the things I appreciated about Spotify. It is a natural fit for me.

I will work in London, at Onfido’s main office. Seattle is lovely, and it has been great being back, but my family and I have missed living in Europe and are looking forward to returning. I started at Onfido at the beginning of April and will be relocating to London this summer.

In my first six weeks at Onfido, what I have seen has shown me that I made the right decision. I’m very excited to be part of Onfido’s future. I am also excited that I will continue to be part of AstrumU’s future, as an advisor to the company.

Just realized

that this blog is almost 12 years old now. I started it during the election season where George Bush was re-elected. It let me get out my frustration around the shambles that I felt the US was descending into. Since Barack Obama was elected, I haven’t felt much need to be publicly political. These days, I have some very strong opinions about what is going on in US politics, but I feel others are doing a better job with the facts and rants. I’ve been more focused on where I think I can provide a more unique voice.

Some of those old posts are bit embarrassing to me now. Like reading the poetry you wrote for class in High School or College. I’ve thought about purging them or separating the blog into multiple ones for photography and discussions of leadership and management (which is what I mostly post on today). I think that past has it’s value though, so for now it stays.

I wonder what I’ll think about today’s posts 12 years from now…

2015 Personal Report

I’ve been playing around for a while mining my own data. This is a report I’ve generated for 2015. Have a bunch more work to do around formatting, but it is fascinating what you can learn about yourself. I’ve redacted some of the most personal data, and this is overview data for the year, as opposed to more correlated data that I’ve been using to try and get better understanding of cause and effect.


countries visited in 2015: 13
countries: United Kingdom, The Netherlands, Belarus, Italy, Czech Republic, Denmark, Poland, United States, Sweden, Germany, Iceland, Switzerland, Spain

top countries by day:
304 Sweden
38 United States
10 United Kingdom
9 Germany
7 Italy
7 Spain
5 The Netherlands
5 Czech Republic
4 Poland
3 Belarus

cities/towns visited in 2015: 78

top cities by day:
303 Stockholm
13 Sigtuna
10 Mercer Island
10 New York
10 London
9 Albuquerque
7 Barcelona
6 Chicago
6 Gothenburg
6 Skokie
5 Seattle
5 Berlin
5 Prague
5 Amsterdam
4 Newark
4 Florence
4 Munich
4 Lecchi
4 Värmdö
4 Krakow


4762 songs listened to
Biggest listening day: August 16 – 75 songs in Stockholm

Top bands:
126 Teddybears
97 Max Richter
89 Naked Raygun
78 Radical Face
67 Madredeus
65 Tom Waits
58 Clint Mansell
58 Jóhann Jóhannsson
57 A Winged Victory for the Sullen
52 Yann Tiersen
Top albums:
62 Recomposed by Max Richter: Vivaldi, The Four Seasons – Max Richter
51 Ainda: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack From “Lisbon Story” – Madredeus
50 Fresh – Teddybears
43 Moon – Clint Mansell
41 What Poor Gods We Do Make: The Story and Music Behind Naked Raygun – Music from the Motion Picture – Naked Raygun
40 Atomos – A Winged Victory for the Sullen
37 Gravity – Ben Lukas Boysen
36 Tiersen: Pour Am̩lie, Piano Music РYann Tiersen
36 Ask Me About My New God! – Maria Bamford
36 Trax! Box – Revolting Cocks
Top songs:
20 Hey boy – Teddybears
20 Heroes РM̴ns Zelmerl̦w
19 Neon Baby – The Comet Is Coming
18 Together – Nordic Giants
17 Rocket Scientist – Feat. Eve – Teddybears
12 Let It Go – Idina Menzel
12 The Strip – Naked Raygun
10 Black Belt – Teddybears
10 Run Rudolph Run – Single Version – Chuck Berry
10 Surf Combat – Naked Raygun
9 Suspect Device – Naked Raygun
9 Dog at Large – Naked Raygun
9 Knock Me Down – Naked Raygun
8 Richter: Recomposed by Max Richter: Vivaldi, The Four Seasons – Spring 2 – Max Richter
8 Gravity – Ben Lukas Boysen
8 Guitarra – Madredeus
8 To The Hills – Ben Lukas Boysen
7 Richter: Recomposed by Max Richter: Vivaldi, The Four Seasons – Summer 2 – Max Richter
7 Welcome to Lunar Industries – Clint Mansell
7 Let It Go – Single Version – Demi Lovato


Biggest steps day: September 26 – 28500 steps in Prague
Total steps for the year: 3392181
Biggest distance day: September 26 – 12.5026967462 miles in Prague
Total distance for the year: 1495.31034948 miles
Biggest floors day: March 14 – 72 floors in Albuquerque
Total floors for the year: 5501
Longest sleep day: November 22 – 15 hours, 11 minutes in Amsterdam
Total sleep for the year: 2206 hours, 33 minutes
Average sleep per night: 6 hours, 2 minutes

Most common things to do:

Reading e-mail
In a meeting
Talking to someone
In a 1:1
Attending an offsite
Playing with my daughter
Watching tv
Waiting for my daughter to go to sleep

Most common places:

most common places:
Stockholm-Arlanda Airport (ARN) (Stockholm-Arlanda)
Stockholms Centralstation (Stockholm)
Arlanda Express (Stockholm C) (Stockholm)
Fabrique (Stockholm)
Panini Internazionale (Stockholm)
Kronobergs Parklek (Stockholm urban area)
Arlanda Express (Arlanda N) (Stockholm-Arlanda)
RÃ¥lambshovsparken (Stockholm)
Bollywood (Stockholm)
Thai Wok Stugan
Jade Hotel (New York)
Phil’s Burger (Stockholm)
Courtyard Airport Albuquerque (Albuquerque)
Göteborg Centralstation (Gothenburg)
Alchymist Grand Hotel & Spa (Prague)
Arlanda Express (Arlanda S) (Stockholm-Arlanda)
Karlův most | Charles Bridge (Prague)
Kronobergsparken (Stockholm)
Mercer Hotel Barcelona (Barcelona)
Spotify (Gothenburg)

Favorite kinds of restaurants:
Burger Joint
Sandwich Place
Food Truck
Coffee Shop
Scandinavian Restaurant
Indian Restaurant
Italian Restaurant
Thai Restaurant
Fast Food Restaurant
American Restaurant
Pizza Place
Mexican Restaurant
Breakfast Spot
Asian Restaurant
Ice Cream Shop

Favorite restaurants:
Panini Internazionale
Thai Wok Stugan
Phil’s Burger
Mandarin City
Caffé Nero
Petite France
Gnarly Burger – The Restaurant
Primo Ciao Ciao
Ramen Ki-Mama
Stockholm Kebab
Brunkebergs bageri
Buco Nero
Rullande Greken
Man In The Moon
Sue Ellen


Most favorited tweets:
If you can’t trust the people you hire, you are bad at hiring people. – favorites: 14
the video from my #dahoam15 talk “Apportioning Monoliths” has been posted: thanks @CodeTailors! – favorites: 13
Unexpected benefit of living in Scandinavia: getting to watch the sunrise while eating breakfast at work at 8:47am – favorites: 8
A response to the IEEE article: Yahoo’s Engineers Move to Coding Without a Net – favorites: 7
The Spotify Tribe My talk from #sparkLDN last week. Thanks again for having me @SparkConf – favorites: 7

Most retweeted tweets:
RT @TheRealNimoy: A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP – retweets: 276868
RT @rolldiggity: It’s sad how Wile E. Coyote is remembered for his violence, and not for his brilliantly realistic paintings of tunnels. – retweets: 22351
RT @Zaitoonmalik: This is the most well-rounded analysis I’ve come across re #ParisAttacks – retweets: 21421
RT @Spotify: The greatest band. The entire catalogue. Tonight at midnight. #BeatlesOnSpotify – retweets: 9876
RT @fortes: Debugging is like being the detective in a crime movie where you are also the murderer. – retweets: 9170

Upcoming talks, Fall 2014


I’ve got some talks lined up for this fall, including my first talk in Asia!

ProductTank STHLM - Stockholm, Sweden - August 27, 2014
Nice to talk again in my home city, and super excited to be speaking to a group primarily made up of product professionals. I’m going to give a talk about how engineering and product teams can work together effectively and how we work at Spotify.

Empowering your engineering talent - London, UK - September 22, 2014
Coming back to London for a breakfast symposium on hiring and empowering engineering talent. 

QCon Shanghai - Shanghai, China - October 16-18, 2014
I’ll be one of the keynotes at the Shanghai edition of this international software development conference.

Hope to see you at one of these!

Why the flurry of new content

A couple years ago, I decided that I would keep my blog for “long form” posts and then use the other services that I had accounts on for other stuff (short posts on twitter, links and pictures on tumblr, etc). That was fine. Of course, I don’t write long form posts very often; which meant the blog was left fallow for long periods of time. It also meant that I had to do lots of extra work to have that content appear in a consolidated form in other places, like my home page or my lifestream.

Recently, I had to fix up my wife’s blog after it was hacked, and I realized just how much of her content was hosted on other sites. Also, with twitter’s old-API retirement killing some of my tools and the various consolidation (and shutting down) of services that are going on, it started making more sense to me to go back to primarily hosting my content on my own server. This gives me more control on the things I create. So for the moment, I’m going to try hosting all my content here and then echoing it out to those other sites. Essentially, the content will live here, but I’m going to try using those other sites just for promoting it. I did consider hosting my own videos here, but that is still hard to justify since I can’t link to it from youtube or vimeo, so I’ll keep posting content there and just including it here. If necessary, I can move that content here in the future.

This does continue the now (9 year!) tradition of this blog being a grab bag of random thoughts, images, video and audio from me. That is a primary violation of the blogging rule that you keep your blog to be narrowly focused if you want people reading you on a regular basis. I have no big dream of being a “blogger” though. When I have tried to split off single-topic blogs (like, I’ve had a hard time keeping them filled with new content. That violates the even bigger rule about keeping your blog up-to-date. I have a set of things I care a lot about: software engineering, imaging, music, food, politics, and motion design. My interest in each of things (or at least writing about any of them) ebbs and flows. Rather than have six blogs, it makes more sense to just have the one. Again, all of this is subject to change, which is the way I like it.

How I read Swedish documents

So far I’ve been getting along pretty well in Sweden. Learning my way around Stockholm, figuring out how to do things, picking up some Swedish words and phrases… The one thing I can’t come close to doing yet is reading large blocks of text. Most of the time, this isn’t really a problem. Context gives you a lot and some Swedish words are somewhat similar to words in other languages that I actually do know (especially if you sound them out).

What kills me is official documents that I actually need to understand, not just get the gist of. Like the documents that came with my phone or from my bank. Some of these I can hand to someone at work to translate for me (if I am very nice about it). That doesn’t work with sensitive documents or when I’m not there.

I got my new ATM card tonight along with a raft of rather important instructions that were all in Swedish. I tried downloading some iOS apps that claimed to OCR and translate. Those were useless.

I ended up with the following process instead:

  1. Connect iPhone to my computer over USB
  2. Take shots of the text as straight-on as possible, with flash
  3. import to the desktop using image capture
  4. import to Photoshop
    1. auto-tone
    2. auto-contrast
    3. rotate (if necessary)
    4. convert to black-and-white
    5. change to 144 DPI *
    6. Save
  5. import images to Acrobat as a single document
    1. OCR document with Swedish hinting
  6. copy/paste into google translate
  7. read (finally)

This is an insanely painful process and not worth it for less than the most critical things. It will get easier when I get my scanner (currently on a boat), which will cut out steps 1-5, but that is still sucky.

If someone could get this working with 70% accuracy in a single iOS app, I would gladly pay $75 for it. I would work on this in my copious free time, but it would probably be more productive for me to learn to read Swedish.

Making a big change

Keep Calm and Revel On
I didn’t make this poster, but I love it.

Coming to Adobe was a dream come true for me. Someone first showed me Photoshop on a Mac SE after hours at the Center for Art and Technology at Carnegie Mellon back in 1989 or 1990. It was captivating to a computer science student with a deep interest in imaging and graphics. I knew that someday I would work there. It wasn’t a direct path, but I did get there eventually.

In my nine years at the company, I have been able to work on some intensely cool projects: Adobe Image Foundation, Pixel Bender, and Revel. Each have been technically challenging, but each have also had an impact for Adobe customers. Solving cool technical problems is fun, but doing it in a way that millions of users can benefit from is massively rewarding. I am grateful that being at Adobe has allowed me to work on such personally and professionally gratifying projects. I am also grateful that I have been able to work with some absolutely stellar teams.

Adobe is the best company that I have ever worked for, but it is time for me to make a change. This will be my last week there.

To all of Adobe’s customers: I hope that my work has helped make the tools you use a little bit better, faster, and more stable. It has been a joy to build stuff for you. Thank you.

Now, I’m looking forward to my next adventure. I will be joining Spotify in Stockholm as Director of Engineering in a few weeks.

This is my new dream, and I am incredibly excited about it. The people that I have met at Spotify are intelligent, creative and passionate. They are working to change the world; making available all the music in the world to anyone, while making sure that the people who create the music that we love can do it as a profession. This has been my mission multiple times in the past, in the days before I came to Adobe. I’m excited to pick up that banner once again and do my best to help it become a reality.

Things are gonna get interesting, stay tuned.

From the VHS archive

been digging through some old video tapes while VCRs still exist. Found a few things so far that I’m not completely embarrassed to share with a wider audience…

7:1 from Kevin Goldsmith on Vimeo.

A seven-mile, 60-second journey through early the early 1990s industrial wasteland areas of Pittsburgh with an original soundtrack blatantly ripped off from Shadowy Men From a Shadowy Planet. A student film for a class at Carnegie-Mellon University. Digitized from a 2nd generation VHS copy. Pardon (or embrace) the Lo-fi.

Intonarumori Performing Constant Bit Select of a Vector Net Live – 1991 from Kevin Goldsmith on Vimeo.

This was the performance of the track "Constant Bit Select of a Vector Net" whose recording was later released on the Intonarumori album Sound Collages 1991-1994 (Unit Circle Rekkids). This was recorded as part of the Carnegie Mellon University Electronic and Computer Music Concert Series. Regrettably, the video recording starts mid-way through the piece. For more information on the album see: for more information on Intonarumori see: