At the end of 2016 the three Roll20 co-founders were at a crossroads; we had successfully grown our bootstrapped project into a real, growing business without outside investment… but expansion wasn’t a given and the pace of competition had led to burnout. As my partners stepped back from the day-to-day, I made a decision with myself and my partners; I would lead Roll20 for five years. We figured if it took five years to really get the business moving, it would take another five years to make Roll20 something that would thrive beyond us.
From 2017 to the end of 2019, Roll20 grew five times over (in both staff and revenue), and the pandemic more than doubled that growth. We developed processes and culture, formed values and made updates. I’m incredibly thankful for the customers that made growing Roll20 possible.
I want to take a moment to highlight some of the folks who will continue to build Roll20 into its best future. Chief Financial Officer Austin Kelly has been my right hand since 2017 in helping drive reinvestment into the platform, and will continue to manage funding our development. Chief Technology Officer Morgan Buck made order out of chaos when she joined us at the start of 2020, and her focus on building a dynamic software culture that engineers want to be a part of will continue to be transformative. Chief Operations Officer Corey Rosemond has brought increased accountability and flow of information into our growing workforce since he joined Roll20 in early 2021, and will be key in helping connect us to broader industries in the future. And Ankit Lal, who sat first as a board member and then President in 2021, will ensure that Roll20’s focus remains squarely on what’s most important to our users: our products.
This is an incredibly invigorating group, leading a staff that continues to rapidly evolve. I’m honestly more excited than ever about the work Roll20 is embarking on, which is why it feels bizarre to announce that I’m leaving the day-to-day work serving as Chief Executive Officer of Roll20. Looking out over the past decade of Roll20, I feel so much cognitive dissonance! It’s been so massive, but so intimate. So many affirming highs and existential lows. It’s a collection of what seem like contradictions…
I’m thankful to our business coach, Brad Mishlove, for pushing me to focus on building a sustainable business. I’m thankful to Riley and Richard, for trusting me to lead the past five years and remaining comrades. I’m thankful to my spouse for the seen and unseen things she did to help us build our staff. I’m thankful that Ankit is going to be a great Chief Executive Officer. I’m thankful to you for engaging with me and caring about the Roll20 community. Keep caring!
I’ll still be an advisor and co-owner. I’ll still be a user and a super-fan. As I’ve said in a majority of the interviews I’ve given, I’ve got some movies to make. All things that are true. Keep building empathy.
-Nolan T, Jones