Saturday, October 30, 2004

The Closing of a Chapter

Well, I've done it. I've resigned and next week will be my last week at AOL. After 5 years, 2 months, and 14 days, the end has finally come.

So what's next? Well, moving onto bigger and better things, of course. You might be wondering why someone like me would leave Nullsoft and Winamp in the lurch. At this point, I'd have to say that there are not many reasons for me to stay.

Over the past 10 months we've lost most of our team. Those of us remaining have become quite weary of the many 'compromises' we are asked to make in order to keep moving forward. At this point, I feel like I no longer have the power to make any positive impact on Winamp.

That said, we did accomplish a lot during the past 5 years. I still occasionally get emails saying 'wow, I didn't know AOL owns you!' and that's a testament to how successful we were in staying true to ourselves, our products, and our community. Unfortunately it was just a matter of time until everything changes.

For all of you who have stuck by our side, supported our efforts, evangelized our products, and loved us for our passion, I thank you. Winamp's success was the product of not just one company, or a group of employees, but that of an entire community created around a common appreciation for a few basic ideas and a love for music.

Alas, there are still a few of us left at AOL. I'm sure that David, Jonathan, and Wen, will do their best to keep Winamp true to it's users as long as they can, but the fact is the odds are against them and the next few months are definitely not going to be easy.

I anticipate that Winamp will continue to limp along for a little while longer. With minor bug fixes and updates for some time to come. Over the long term, I anticipate Winamp's identity will change to fit the goals of those at AOL who don't really care what Winamp means to the millions of our loyal followers.

Before you go off and start hating AOL. Stop. One thing that everyone has to realize is that AOL is a machine, just like every other big corporation. It consumes smaller companies in order to absorb them and use them for technologies, expertise, patents, etc. Every acquisition leads to the destruction of the acquired identity and their products. It's inevitable. Frankly, it really is a miracle that Winamp lasted as long as it did. In the end we all feel great about where we took Winamp and how we got there.

This might all be pretty overwhelming. You may be thinking, no, this is not true, it can't be. But alas, it is. You must accept it and hold on as long as you can before you too must move on.

We all know that cliche 'All good things must come to an end'. Nullsoft is certainly not excluded. The experiences I had here were tremendous. I learned so much about life, politics, people, and myself over the past 5 years. I've made friends that I will keep for the rest of my life. I even participated in a small part of the history of online music and I'm happy to have been in the right place at the right time.

I only hope that when people look back, they can appreciate how great Winamp really was. How much it really innovated and what it really did for this space. The MP3 revolution would certainly not have been the same without our efforts and the loyal following Winamp has.

I look forward to the future. I am excited to work somewhere new, on a great product, and continue to have the privilege of impacting millions of people's lives in new and powerful ways.

Perhaps, now is the time to get my Nullsoft 'llama' tattoo. I always wanted to get it, to serve as a symbol for this chapter of my life. I felt that it would be a great reminder of how much these 5 years have impacted me as a person and have influenced who I have become today. Yes, now seems just right.

*sigh* So long Nullsoft, I barely knew ya.



  1. Congrats on the new job Steve. =)


  2. Its your life, and i hope no-one over at the winamp forums would be enough of a wanker to hold this descision against you. Just make sure you do something cool over at itunes, k? ;)

  3. I'm really sorry, not only because you're leaving, but also because Nullsoft has lost it's hart and soul.
    The last few years, 3 for me, have been a time of happiness and frustration. Finally it seems frustration will win in the end.

    For all of you, hang on the the Winamp version you have now, it is good. There are no guarantees it will stay that way if an AOL developer team starts messing with it, and that is only a matter of time.

  4. Congratulations Steve. You greatly helped make Winamp the success that it became, and I am sure you can do the same for iTunes.

  5. Good luck, steve. We all appreciate and recognise what you put into winamp.

    Now you have your chance to make itunes not suck ;)

    - will

  6. Keep up the good work Steve.. good luck with your new job!

  7. Congrates... say hello to Samir and all the other former Netscapers --- mdunn

  8. GUESShimself said:

    I really appreciate all the work you've done for Winamp and the whole online community. You've left a great mark.

    Best of luck working on iTunes. I've just recently become a Mac user, so I'll be lookin' forward to see what you have in store...
    Thanks again and good luck!

  9. More thanks to you and all the other's who have moved on for a great player. :) Best of luck with the new direction in life!!

  10. Steve,

    You know I've got your back by any means necessary! You were the man to pull me from DMusic and give me a soapbox on Winamp years ago (damn it seems like yesterday thou) and I consider you one of my closest friend whom I have never had a chance to hang with in person. You've helped me come up bro, and I know there are many others that feel the same way I do. None of us would be the same without Nullsoft, it will aways be apart of all of us. Perhaps soon, I will get of my ass and get my own digital music daydream concepts pushed out into digital reality.. when Cornell stops owning my brain cycles, I'll be sure to check in on you here and again.. You are and will always be a true friend. This is not the end, only a new beginning, for you and for the rest of the crew remaining, Jon, David and Wen.


  11. Dang this is a sad day but he is right. People just need to move on. I've been a winamp user since 6th grade and I'm now in college. You can imagine how much of a blow this is but we just have to accept it :-/


  12. Good luck Steve. I have switched from boring WMP sice Winamp 2, and almost everyday I would visit the Winamp home page to find out about product updates, and now it looks like I don't have to, anymore.

    It is just like Netscape. See, AOL have closed it down. However, there is still Mozilla, formed by ex-employees.

    Can't ex-Nullsoft staff create another group of your own, many users out there will want to see Winamp rise and defeat iTunes and the already-out WMP10.

    I will always be faithful to Winamp... Be it if WMP25 comes out... Winamp is truly the best MP3 Player out there. To those who think Winamp is bad, go use it for a week, you will know its true power.

    I feel really sad seeing Winamp and Nullsoft go just like that.

  13. I love Winamp. It's all I use for audio. If it won't play on it, I don't want to know.

    Do you think AOL would be interested in selling off Nullsoft? How about a Nullsoft foundation running it as an OSS project? I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of geeks weren't willing to chip in to get it as OSS.

    Sorry to hear you are going.

  14. I'm strange, I think. I sit here with tears in my eyes about being 17 and installing Winamp on my parents computer and subsequently every computer in my high school to try to make people use it. Freshman year in college when I was feeling down from homesickness, the Winamp visualizations playing full screen on my 17" monitor coupled with Brian McKnight would lull me to sleep. I was horrified when Nullsoft was sold to AOHell. I knew it would come to this...I just expected it to be quicker. So now, I guess I can be satisfied with what will probably be the last release of Winamp known to man. Thanks for making the BEST media player out there Nullsoft. It really did kick the llama's ass. -Princessfrozen

  15. best media player there ever was. period. without WinAmp , the mp3 revolution might not have happened and we'd be all living in DRM hell.

  16. congrats on the new job and thanks your work on winamp!

  17. Thank you for Winamp. I've been using it since v.1, it will forever be my mp3 player.

  18. Hey Steve,

    As someone who installed and used every Winamp version from 2.5 onwards, I will certainly keep an eye on the direction that Nullsoft takes with Winamp from now.

    Congratulations on your new job. Go rock Apple (and make iTunes better than the junk it is now!)


    (written while listening to streaming radio on Winamp...)

  19. Rock on Steve!.....


  20. Good luck in whatever you do Steve, and thanks to you and all the other Nullsoft employees who came and went over the years for putting everything into such a great product.

    Daniel Briley

  21. as someone who uses "shoutcast" on a daily basis to bring games commentary to the world, i can only say that what nullsoft did has revolutionised the way we work. without them we wouldnt be getting the hundreds of listeners we do nigh on every day.

    So as a broadcaster and someone who has used winamp from the start... thank you for providing me the tools to do the job I love so much and also for providing others the ability to listen to the job I love so much. without you guys we would be stuck (like sum1 else has said) in a DRM world where everyone must use windows because otherwise we cant play our music that we own.

    Best of luck in what you do in the future.

  22. Thanks for you contribution to the world!

    For me Winamp is the best media player available for windows. I've discovered MP3s in 1996 and I've been using Winamp almost from the beginning. It was usually the first software I would install after Windows.
    I must say that winamp3 was a bit disappointing, especially since I've a fan of the classic, but Winamp5 is great.
    It's a shame that it will stop being developed, or at least being developed by the "right" persons.
    Winamp is reference and it will leave it's mark in software history.

    best regards

    just another fan

  23. Sad to see this come, but good to see you are moving on. I am not a big fan of itunes buy wish you the best of luck there. Maybe your help and input will convert me over to itunes one day.

    I remember using Winamp and Sonique so long ago. Stuck between the two. Sad, it was Lycos that made me finally switch to Winamp totally. Now AOL will have the same effect on Winamp to me.

    Anyway, enough reminiscing. Thank you for sticking in it as long as you did. And again, good luck where ever you go.

  24. Thank you for all of your and Nullsoft's contributions to the multimedia community. Winamp has been the benchmark; the stone against which all others are measured. I truly hate to see Winamp go the way of NCSA Mosaic, of OS\2, of ICQ. But, as you say, such things are inevitable. I've watched my own creations be absorbed and perverted over the years.

    Good luck to you and to all Nullsoft Veterans. We all look forward to seeing you in the news with the next groundbreaking project.

  25. did you know that i could recite the whole winamp credits three years back? winamp rocks, and still does. you guys are my heroes. may the spirit of the llamas be with you

  26. I'm not sure I agree with all the bemoaning. I mean, how much better could Winamp get, anyway? Winamp 5.05 is all I'll be using. It's perfect.
    Thank you Nullsoft.

  27. Oh man... I'm going to perform a complete code-freeze on my PC. I never want to lose Winamp and the psychadelia that is the work of Ryan Geiss. Guys, you rock. Well done for sticking it out this long, and thanks for all the player code.

  28. Steve... you said it perfectly.
    As a Nullsoft vet myself, I felt compelled to say a few words too here:

    I wasn't the rock star there like you and the fellas were, but it still was one of the most inspiring places I've ever worked, merely because you all had such passion for your product and loyalty to your audience in the bleakest of AOL times.

    You fought a good fight, Steve...

    You're going to do nothing but great things over at iTunes and I can't wait to see you explode onto the scene.

    Nullsoft might be dead, but it's veterans still keep it alive in everything they do.

  29. Hate AOL? People hated AOL long before they purchased Nullsoft. This will just add fuel to the fire for some people.

    I'll give WinAmp credit, it certainly started something wonderful. To bad it couldn't end as brightly. Like Netscape, the beginning was grand... by the end, it tried to be to much.

    Thankfully, there have been many good alternatives for some time. ;) This became obvious to me (as well as many others)when WinAmp 3 was released. They may never be WinAmp, but they sure as hell can carry on what was started by WinAmp.

    NullSoft did give us ShoutCast, which IMO is one of the best things ever. For that one thing I am forever greatfull.

    Good luck whever you go.

  30. I wanna put a bullet in my brain.. what player shall I use now? ;(

  31. I am sorry to see you go, but everything changes. Be proud you can forever look back on that time and know you made history. Now, make sure you continue to use your powers for good. - c

  32. Now we're really left in the dark...
    *fondly remembers modding winamp with Renovator before skins support*

    Where do we go now ?

  33. Your efforts over the last few years will not be forgotten, and shall you ever decide to look back to the community you helped create, you will see most of us standing there waving back, waiting for your return shall it ever happen. However, if you decide to vanish into the night, we will remember you like the first time we logged on...

    Thank you very much, and from one heterosexual man to another... I LOVE YOU!!

  34. Hey Steve, sorry to watch you go from Nullsoft, this fucking AOL made many mistakes, and now the even worst could be break the core of the team Nullsoft.

    All the best from my heart buddy, you may not know me, cause I'm not a developer but a skinner (gfx), but I know you....

    If you're interesting on a new idea I have in mind and would like to share thoughts, come drop me a line over
    (I'm VAG, the foudner and CEO).

    Take care, and all the best to you and your family and friends Steve.

    Best regards,

  35. Well, I have to say, this is very sad.
    AOL always gets it's way, and I think nobody uses those darn free minidiscs that you can use for Christmas decorations. WinAMP is the best and should have never been given to AOL. Well, now you are off to Apple. I hope you get a G5 Power Mac when you get there! Remember, you are going to work for the company that has the iPod. The iPod. The iPod. It's the best MP3 player, and it works awesome with all mac products. For WinAmp, I do not really know. Maybe AOL will sell Nullsoft.

  36. I don't think winamp will ever be forgotten. And I will use it as long as I can!

  37. Hey Steve,

    I just wanted to say (as everyone else has already) that Winamp has always kicked ass (even 3, which was my least fav). Good Luck with your job at Apple and I hope the office is somewhat like the office at Nullsoft (I used to watch you guys when I was bored). I do agree with you in why companies aquire other companies, but in this case, there is such a huge fan base for Winamp that the normal 'come in and rape the product/technologies' approach is such a waste here. Winamp is more than the sum of its parts. I cannot help but feel more hate for AOcrap than ever before. They are the worst ISP in the universe and eventually, if they do not move over to offering some sort of true High Speed product, will shrink down to almost nothing. I just wish they had not destroyed the nullsoft team along with it. :(

    Much like yourself, I am living in the Van Nuys area now and looking for tech employment. I just moved here from living on the east coast for all of my life. I hope I can fare as well as you did :) (working for apple)

    oh well, again, good luck with everything at Apple.

    signing off

    Christopher L Hoe

  38. Forgive me for asking this, but why doesn't someone just buy NullSoft back to keep it afloat and help it remain the non-monoplized bastard child of WMP? <:)

  39. It's no biggie, QCD > Winamp anyways ;)

  40. ----
    At 4:56 AM, Anonymous said...

    Forgive me for asking this, but why doesn't someone just buy NullSoft back to keep it afloat and help it remain the non-monoplized bastard child of WMP? <:)

    Well, that would be great, but the problem is, AOL is going to suck it dry. AOL is not going to let it go, and if they did, it wouldn't really matter. The team is already gone.

  41. Thanks Steve,thanks for all your efforts in Winamp.I started using Winamp for many years till now. Thanks!!

  42. Best of luck and wishes.

    You and your team made EXCELLENT products, besides Winamp.

    Sorry to see you opted to leave, maybe you and other nullsoft developers could make other 'similar' products. :)

    Good luck, dont mark this as an end, but a new beginning.

    AOL is OK IMO also, but I still wish they didnt interfere with you like every megacorporate company does. :-/


  43. Hi Steve

    At first the way things evolved with AOL might seems unfortunate. But I think it is not.

    Have a look back at when you were called Pajarito. It was when? perhaps 5-6 years ago. What happened since? We all grown and our interest in things we do also grown. What clearly increased is our interest in doing interesting things, our creativity.

    The AOL adventure was a hard taught at the business life. I think that this is something quite interesting to learn.
    Ok, now winamp will probably die very soon. But people who created it are clearly not retired. They are just retired from winamp. I think that their creativity is still there, and probably even bigger than it was 5 years ago.


    Gabriel Bouvigne

  44. And this is why I never upgraded from 2.81.

    Good luck on the departure from the evil company.

  45. Hi Steve, glad to hear that you're moving from a shitty company to a less-shitty company :) Actually Apple has some cool stuff going but I'm afraid of apples. Let me introduce myself a little, my name is Scott obviously but I've recently started a digital music distribution model. I'm looking for good developers; GUI, network, C++, visual studio, cocoa/carbon, audio, etc. Basically the end product needs to be "like" a Winamp or iTunes but better. There were many features that should have been implemented but couldn't under a corp like AOL. Anyway I'd appreciate it if we could talk or please introduce me to some ex-Nullsoft people who'd like to keep the old spirit going. Thanks!

  46. Hey Steve,

    I thought you might still get your nullsoft mails, but in case you don't I re"send" my message here:

    I just read about your leaving nullsoft and I want to wish you good luck for your new "chapter". It was a great pleasure to work with you - no kidding - thanks a lot!
    I can imagine how it feels to leave it all behind - makes me sad too to see something legendary like winamp go down and - hey, I always could say, I know someone at winamp. Well, to know someone at itunes is fair enough ;o)

    No, all joking aside: I'm sure you're going to make your way!

    Take care & bye-bye
    Catherine :o)

  47. My god can this really be the end? I cant believe the one software company I truly believed in is going to slowly drift into the dark void of the corporate a$$h07e. You guys were my knights in shining armor, my future dream employers, in my favorites. How hard Ive fought to put you in my friends, families, even enemies start menus. I knew gAyOL hadent gotten to you as long as my new install had "Winamp, It really whips the llamas ASS!" playing that first startup. I will know its over when I install a future version and it states "Winamp, The peoples music player". Pass the word on to the rest.. Stop using it when you cant hear the llamas ass. I dont know if it can be done.. but an "on the sneak" release of the full winamp code would give immortal life and a real rebel image to you guys. Do it.. what do you have to loose?

  48. I'm a little late on this... hi steve it's your hot sexy girltypefriend. After reading all of the other touching comments I realized that winamp has made a difference in my life too. You totally have another life! You amaze me. I have nothing but respect for your work, you truly did give your heart and soul to winamp. You chose your battles wisely and never gave up. I know it wasn't easy but you made a huge difference. You made me love computers! No easy feat.

    I will miss being your guinea pig. He used to make me use winamp so that he could find out ways to make it better. I loved it. Whenever I did something intuitively that he didn't expect, he would just laugh in a "oh my god I just discovered electricity" way. It's always a pleasure to have my computer retardedness exploited for the greater good.

    The new company is very lucky to have you, for the last three years I have had the pleasure of observing your brilliant style first hand. You mostly did a lot of talking, always with the talking and the big words. Your very good at explaining things. But then you would always come back down to earth and talk about farting and with me. I especially enjoyed bringing you random snacks and looking over your shoulder while you worked. *sigh*

    I remember thinking how incredibly loyal and genuine you were, you loved winamp and all of it's parts. I don't think your capable of doing anything with out giving it everything you've got. You are the most inspiring person I know. You take everything one step at a time and remain level headed. I'm very proud of you :) And I am so happy to see how happy you are at your new job :)


  49. Guess everything must move along and you're off to bigger and better things. Been a supporter of WinAmp since the very beginning and have loved the application as it's so fast and does what I need it to (well 2.x :P) - play mp3s.

    Good luck with the new life, hope that Apple is cool :-)


  50. Good luck at any small company you end up joining.

  51. dont get me wrong, I hate AOL as much as the next guy. but lets not forget that didnt AOL save nullsoft buy getting them out of a rather large court case about some licensing problem? if they hadnt, nullsoft may have been gone many years ago.

  52. As I reread my previous comment about joining a small company I really meant to say Apple.

  53. You small ass big words hero-like-act.
    Mother fucking brain dead poet.

    Reading you makes me puke.
    You are personaly same too?
    I have my lesson and i think you are stupid.

    A shit on you.
    Dumb little ass.

    You are one that makes internet stinks.

  54. end of an era, thanks for your time man. good luck in the future.

  55. Wow. That's gonna Be a SWEET tattoo.
    ))member me?((

  56. Thank you for your story.

    I was considering selling. I can't now. Thank you.

  57. Thank you for your story.

    I was considering selling. I can't now. Thank you.