Friday, July 19, 2013

My Friend Jeffrey McManus Suddenly Died on July 5th

On July 5th Jeffrey McManus unexpectedly died. I learned of this devastating news on July 10th through his wife Carole's tear-jerking FAQ about this death posted to her Facebook timeline. I'll never joke again about quitting Facebook, I don't know when I would have found out about Jeff's death living in NJ.

PandoDaily has a fine public write up if you want the immediate details, though I wish they ran with a better picture.

It is literally the least I can do to honor his memory by recounting how he touched my life. I still can't believe I never get to see him again.

Vertigo Software
I met Jeffrey, whom I called Jeff, when we both worked at Vertigo Software. Jeff worked at Vertigo for 5 months in 2003 and he made a lasting impression. We didn't keep in touch much for a long time after he left the company because I wasn't ready for Jeff. He had such an outgoing personality, and at the time I was very much an introvert, that I didn't know how to handle Jeff's joviality. I mistook his playful spirit for a lack of technical seriousness, a blunder of colossal proportions that I've never admitted to anyone. I never stopped keeping tabs on what he was doing since he was always doing interesting stuff.

New York and Potential Opportunities
Jeff came to New York City in August 2006 just when he was starting Platform Associates. We had drinks at the W hotel in Times Square. I hadn't seen Jeff in a few years at that point and wasn't really sure what to expect, but we had a wonderful few hours together filled with Jeff's trademark off color humor and alcohol. Jeff tried to talk me into joining him at Platform Associates, but since I'm more cautious with my career, I had to tell him I couldn't do it. I always admired his ability to come up with new ideas and just go for it.

Jeff was one of the people I interacted with the most on Twitter. My wife and I would specifically take a discussion to Twitter just to see what kind of response we would get out of Jeff. I don't think I missed too many opportunities to get in a snarky or slightly subversive comment on whatever Jeff was saying on Twitter. I'll greatly miss Jeff's witticisms.

Tangerine Element
Jeff was the first person I turned to when I wanted advice on launching Tangerine Element. I asked him for help on consulting engagements, search engine optimization, incorporation strategies, you name it. I'm pretty sure during some of the early consulting he gave me template contracts and invoices to look at from Platform Associates to help smooth that process out. Jeff was always giving like that, always quick to help out however he could.

WWDC 2011
Apple's WWDC 2011 was my first time attending the conference. When I mentioned to Jeff I was going, he immediately said we should hang out. I didn't hesitate to say yes.
We ate dinner at a very nice place not to far from Moscone West that I can't remember the name of, but I think that's mostly because Jeff dazzled me with Marriot's The View lounge. Jeff and I were both Star Wars fans and he knew that The View's resemblance to the Emperor's throne room from Return of the Jedi would blow me away. It did. If I'm around Moscone West and someone hasn't been to The View and I know there a Star Wars fan, I make it a point to take them to the Marriot. The views are simply stunning as well.
As usual, Jeff and I talked about his startups and if there was some way I could help out…

At the end of 2011, I taught Introduction to iOS Programming through This was my first time teaching an actual course on anything. It meant a tremendous amount to me. I taught another session of the class starting in April 2012. Unfortunately the demands of my day job and the amount of work it takes to do an instructor lead course to my standards meant I couldn't schedule a third session.

WWDC 2012
WWDC 2012 was a truncated affair for me. I had to leave on Tuesday night of that week, but Jeff adjusted his schedule so we could still grab dinner. We went to this great place 54 Mint in a night I'll never forget. I was surprised to find us sitting next to a large table of people from Apple, including Michael Jurewitz. I'd just seen a large number of these people up on stage, and @Jury in particular I'd interacted with on Twitter a few times. I thought if I ever wanted to work at Apple, perhaps I'd say hi later.
Jeff and I got deeply into a discussion about the future of Since I had just wrapped up the second session of my course, I was overflowing with ideas on what to do with the site and take it to mobile. Jeff had just proposed bringing me onto CodeLesson in a product advisor role in my spare time when all of a sudden he gets up, steps towards Apple's table, and makes a fake big smile and waves his hands.
Flabbergasted by what I'd just saw, Jeff sits back down and chuckles as I ask him what he'd done. This was my introduction to the photobombing. Jeff said he did it all the time and all involved got a great laugh out of it. I'd never heard let alone done that so I emailed @jury at the airport to apologize. Don't know if that email was ever read, but this was the only time Jeff and I truly disagreed on anything.
This incident epitomized Jeff. With him you never knew what you were going to get, and that's one of the reasons these outings where so exciting!

WWDC 2013
I had the pleasure of hanging out with Jeff and his wife Carole before the conference at the Pi Bar for pizza and beer. I met a few of Jeff and Carole's friends and we chatted about potential iOS work, schools in San Francisco, and places to live. I was given a mission by @missionbride,  gather intel for "Operation: Could We Possibly Move the Family Back to CA". Jeff and Carole helpfully answered all the questions I had. Mission Bride and I aren't planning for an imminent move, just feeling it out a bit.
Jeff came out the next night with my co-workers and former co-workers. We stopped at the Xamarin party held at the Press Club, then dinner at Annabelle's Bar & Bistro before heading to Marriot's The View. Jeff staged a boisterous game of "Who's Your Top 5". If you've never played, this is a game of "who would you cheat on your spouse for just one night with". Again, this was classic Jeff, taking an off color concept and truly relishing it! When Jeff and I were saying our goodbyes, I gave him a bear hug and told him how proud I was of all the weight he'd lost in the last year.
Mission Bride was coming to San Francisco a couple days later. Jeff magnanimously offered to share his Father's Day the coming Sunday and show us around neighborhoods Carole and he thought might be good for us. I had every intention of taking him up on the offer when traffic intervened and prevented us from getting back from a jaunt down to Salinas in time for our flight home. In hindsight I'm glad we missed it. Carole and the kids got Jeff to themselves as far as I know on his last Father's Day.

Jeff was a talented entrepreneur, great dad, great husband, and a good friend to me. It feels so cliché, but I wish I had more time with him. I'm sure we would have been great friends.