#inaction bcotton

On 25 June 2018, I published a post called “It’s hattening”. After years of rejected applications, I was finally starting a job at Red Hat. On 24 April 2023, Red Hat announced a 4% reduction in global staff. As a member of that 4%, today is my last day at Red Hat.

What does this mean for Ben?

This is the first time I’ve been laid off from a job. I hope it will be the last, but who can say? I’d be lying if I said I haven’t felt a big range of emotions in the past three weeks: confusion, anger, sadness, amusement.

But I’ve also felt loved. I’ve received so much support from people since the news started spreading. It’s like that end scene of “It’s a Wonderful Life” and I’m George Bailey. I’m proud of the contributions I’ve made to the Fedora community over the last five years, and it feels good to have others recognize that.

While I won’t be contributing as the Fedora Program Manager anymore, I was a Fedora contributor long before I joined Red Hat, and I’m not letting them take that away from me. I’ll still be around Fedora in ways that spark joy, although perhaps not much at first as I let my wounds heal.

I’ve had the great fortune to build an incredible professional and personal network over the years. I’m already pursuing a few opportunities and if those don’t pan out, I’ll be asking for your help finding more. In the meantime, I have (at least) a few weeks to relax for a bit. There’s a ton of work to do around the house, many trails to hike, Program Management for Open Source Projects to promote, and an embarrassingly-large backlog for Duck Alignment Academy articles.

What does this mean for Fedora?

I’ve told folks that if Fedora falls off the rails, then I have failed. I’m working with Matthew, Justin, and others to ensure coverage of the core job duties one way or another. I’ve worked hard over the years to automate tasks that can be automated. The documentation is far more comprehensive than what I inherited.

No doubt there are gaps in what I’ve left for my successors. However, my goal is that in a few months, nobody will notice that I’m gone. That’s my measure of success. The only reason I’ve been successful in my role is because of the work done by my predecessors: John, Robyn, Jaroslav, and Jan.

As to what the broader implication behind the loss of my position might be, I don’t know. There’s no indication that my role was targeted specifically. There are definitely people in Red Hat who continue to view Fedora as strategically important. I wish I had a clearer understanding of how they chose people/roles to cut, but I’ll probably never know the process. What I do know is that I fully intend to still be participating in the Fedora community when my account hits the 20-year mark in May 2029.

15 thoughts on “#inaction bcotton

  1. I’m sorry, Ben. I’ve been there, four times (yikes) and can say that you will recover and go on to do more great things.

  2. Oh no, Ben! This is the first I’ve seen of your departure as I’ve been so busy with the day job and other volunteering work that (to my detriment) I’ve not contributed as much recently to Fedora as I’d like. I’m really sad to see great people leave the professionally paid part of this community such as yourself and Marie. My very best wishes for the future!

  3. So sorry to hear this, Ben! Being laid off sucks. (I was laid off when Danielle was in high school and it was one of the scariest things I’ve ever been through.) But you’ve got this.

  4. I am sorry to hear this Ben. I feel your pain, frustration and stress. Hopefully you will see this in hindsight as being the moment that led to the start of something else great.

    Thanks for continuing your great work and contributions to the greater community

  5. Hi Ben,
    Comparing your (our) situation with Grey’s Anatomy it’s epic. That’s why I stopped watching the series. I’m saying our because we could be soon in the same situation.

    As a former IBM employee I’m starting to get the same vibe and nausea every day, perhaps it will be wise to end this series also.

    I reading your book again, I wish leadership could do it also, they might understand the work of a Program Manager.

    Wish you the best.
    Keep in touch

  6. Boy, that sucks. Losing a job is never easy. Fedora is such a friendly Linux distro. Thanks for all your hard work, and I hope you find something new soon. Good luck, my friend.

  7. Surprised and saddened to hear this. I believe the next thing for you will come soon. Stay strong.

  8. I’m so sorry to hear this. Thank you for all you’ve done to make Fedora and its ecosystem amazing, and I’m glad you’ll still be part of it even if not as an employee. Wherever you go next, they’ll be lucky to have you. Enjoy your time in between!

  9. I have just now learned about it – rather by chance. And it makes me very sad. I remember our collaboration, most recently on the revitalization of Docs, being very productive, very constructive and at the same time very pleasant. I wish you all the best for the future.

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