Allen Stern was a long-time Rackspace customer. And he became a personal friend shortly after I joined Rackspace. Allen passed this last week, and our mutual friend Louis Gray wrote these words: http://blog.louisgray.com/2013/04/allen-stern-web-20-tech-blogging.html
I “met” Allen Stern on an escalated support call. At the time I was the Director of Software Development for what was then Mosso (a Rackspace company). Allen was a long-time customer – and he was a challenging customer. He was not a difficult customer – but he challenged us. I loved my many talks with Allen because he was trying to help us get better at helping him. So I was learning from him –Allen was always teaching if you were willing to learn.
As our CEO Lanham Napier has said more than once, "At every key point in the history of Rackspace, our customers have pulled us toward our future. Sometimes they pulled us kicking and screaming, but we went along. And that's a big factor what accounts for the success we've had: great customers who pulled us and challenged us."
Allen was one of those customers.
Allen had a lot of passion - and sometimes this caused people to think he was overbearing. I never did. I just thought he was someone that expected things to work, and when they did not he called me on it. Literally - at all times of the day and night!
Over time Allen and I met in person several times, and we developed a great friendship. We respected each other a great deal.
Allen knew that I had the voice of Rackspace leadership - and that we really cared - and he trusted me to effect change. We worked well together doing just that over the last five years, and I am thankful that I have a leadership team that encourages me to amplify voices. Voices like Allen's.
I was pleased when I heard Allen sold CenterNetworks - I could feel it was causing him some stress. I was even more pleased when he moved to Austin and started to watch his health more.
Allen and I talked for hours on the phone, or on Skype - mostly about tech, but also about life. And what made us happy.
I was very saddened to hear of Allen’s death – and ironically his last Twitter post was calling out our customer support for an issue he was having. If you understood the relationship Allen and I had, you would understand how ironic that is – and why it makes me smile now, instead of making me sad.
It is like Allen is asking me just one more time to “just make ’it’ work.”
And that makes me smile, too. And I'll keep pushing us Allen. Thanks for all your help throughout the last four-plus years. You were a great customer, and a great friend.