January 20th was my last day working at Playground. The decision to leave was challenging because of the many great aspects of the company, some of which I’ll briefly touch on below. I ultimately realized that this was about the best possible time to transition, because Mighty had just shut down and Playground was at the start of a long journey. I wanted to be able to commit to the project for years into the future, but I’ve been hoping to work on more directly impactful work for some time now and decided to go in that direction.

The Promise of Playground

Before discussing what I’ll be up to next, I want to briefly reflect on the things I loved about Playground and why I’m excited about their future. The people that make up a company are always the most important thing to me, and for Mighty/Playground, I adored the team. They were wickedly smart, kind, funny, and motivated. I could wax on about all the wonderful bits of what it was like working with them for days. The problem itself, and the field of AI in general, are also really fascinating areas to work in. New magic is being created every week, and I’m in awe of what’s becoming possible. The day to day work was also great. Lots of ambitious, greenfield projects. The team of ~10 people is really lean, so every bit of work is impactful. And the product helps people make art. It’s a dream! After shipping a change, you immediately see thousands of people experiment with it and create incredible images.

Lastly, the business itself is exciting. Creative tools are a vast market, and there’s lots of room to build something exceptional there. I bet that 2023 is going to see some massive improvements in image creation, and Playground is going to be consistently on the cutting edge. It’ll be an interesting journey to transition from the “toy” phase to the “business tool” phase, but I totally believe they can make it happen.

Next Steps

Despite all the great aspects of Playground, I’ve really wanted to spend more time doing more directly impactful work, and now seems like a good time. My best friend happens to also be newly unemployed, many people are eager to join Playground, and I’ve been excited to do this sort of work for a long time.

My initial focus will be searching for a job in the climate field. I’ve already spent quite some time here. There was a 3 month period about 2 years ago that I was spending time outside of work doing lots of research in this area. The main highlight was getting two groups of people together to talk once a week about climate. All of us were in the initial stages of our search, which made the group dynamics work really well. But by the end of the experience, I was a bit disheartened that I couldn’t find many opportunities that excited me. Nevertheless, I wasn’t done with my search, and this is a continuation of that. My bar is somewhat high. If I can’t find something particularly compelling or exciting, I may end up focusing my efforts towards other things. But I hope that I do find a good fit!

While doing this, I’ll also continue to study AI and keep my ears out for opportunities in that area, or in education or government. Education and teaching has long been a passion of mine, and government roles seem a bit rough, but also potentially very impactful. I spent more time clarifying what sort of work I’d like to do on my blog post about my personal myth. Hopefully my thoughts will clarify over the coming weeks and months, but I just wanted to share where I am right now. Woo!

Please let me know if you have any ideas on people I should meet or opportunities I should pursue. Any sort of help is very welcome!