A cofounder of NPM, a startup that 11 million developers rely on, has resigned in the wake of a period of employee unrest

YouTube screenshotLaurie Voss, chief data officer and co-founder of npm
  • Co-founder Laurie Voss has resigned from the developer startup NPM, he announced Thursday.
  • Voss served as the chief data officer, and most recently represented NPM at two developer conferences.
  • In his blog post, Voss said that NPM’s paid products have “tens of thousands of happy users,” and that the revenue from those businesses are enough to finance the company’s “core operations.”
  • NPM co-founder Isaac Schlueter, who was the CEO until he was replaced by Bryan Bogensberger, remains as the company’s chief product officer.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Laurie Voss, co-founder of NPM, a startup that provides crucial tools to 11 million developers, has resigned from the company, he announced Thursday.

NPM started as an open source project that provides free JavaScript tools that are used to run web applications. Voss and his co-founders built a business around it to support these tools.

Voss started as the founding CTO of the company, and then became COO. Starting in January, he became the Chief Data Officer. According to a blog post on the company website, he decided to leave in early May, and his last full-time day was July 1.

“As a co-founder, having been there for five years, there’s all sorts of things that go into that decision,” Voss told Business Insider. “It was a very complicated and difficult decision, and that’s all I want to say.”

Prior to his resignation, Voss had represented NPM at the developer conferences JSConf.Asia in Singapore and Web Directions in Melbourne, Australia. Voss told Business Insider that he already informed NPM’s board of his decision to depart in May, before attending these conferences.

NPM has faced its share of unrest in the past few months. In March, the Register first reported on the backlash against NPM management after it was criticised for the layoff of five employees.

It was later reported that three of those employees were involved in unionization efforts at the company, and that they had filed complaints with the National Labour Relations Board after they were dismissed. In late June,NPM settled with those employees.

“While I was at NPM, no one ever came to me and proposed to unionize,” Voss told Business Insider. “If they had proposed to unionize, I would be in favour. It was really a huge surprise for me that we received that NLRB complaint.”

And in May, 17 NPM employees circulated an internal letter demanding better working conditions due to a lack of transparency into the company’s financial health, the lack of cost-of-living raises, and related issues. The letter also indicated that there has been a 20% reduction in staff following the layoff of those 5 employees.


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Employees at NPM, a startup that provides a crucial service for 11 million software developers, have signed an open letter demanding better working conditions

“In the past month, actions and inactions by current management have led to a 20% decline in npm staff. This trend shows no sign of slowing following a continued lack of transparency into the financial health of the company, the deletion of the employee handbook, the lack of cost-of-living raises, and the lack of accountability in the treatment of remaining staff,” the letter said.

Future plans

Voss says that after five and a half years of leading a startup, he plans to take a break for the next few months and work on personal projects before he makes any decisions on what to do next.

“The core mission of NPM is to turn NPM from this service that was down all the time to a rock solid piece of internet infrastructure,” Voss said. “There’s a bunch more that NPM can do as a company and they’re going to get done, even after I leave.”

In the blog post, he says that one of his goals with the company since its founding in 2014 was to keep its core NPM Registry product functioning indefinitely – and that he felt this goal had been achieved.

“Our paid products, npm Orgs and npm Enterprise, have tens of thousands of happy users and the revenue from those sustains our core operations,” Voss wrote in a blog post. “There are hundreds of thousands of companies large and small whose efficiency and security can be improved by using npm Orgs and Enterprise, and that mission is barely begun. While I am parting ways with npm, I look forward to seeing my friends and colleagues continue to grow and change the JavaScript ecosystem for the better.”

Meanwhile, in May, GitHub announced it launched a rival product.

Co-founder Isaac Schlueter, who was the CEO until he was replaced by Bryan Bogensberger, is still at NPM as the chief product officer. The other co-founder, Rod Boothby, left NPM in 2016.

“Laurie has been our friend and, as a founder, an integral part of npm, Inc. for more than five years, and his departure saddens us – but we are deeply grateful to him for all he has done,” NPM said in a statement provided to Business Insider. “He’s worked carefully with us on transitioning his responsibilities, and we are confident the handover will go smoothly. We wish him the best of luck with his next adventure.”

NPM provided the below Slack message from Voss to the company announcing his departure Thursday morning.

Friends and colleagues: with a heavy heart, I’m letting you know that I have resigned from npm. My last full working day was actually July 1st, but I have been around for transition-related tasks and there’s still a bunch of that to do, so I won’t be immediately disappearing from Slack or anything.

There’s no way I could summarize what the last five and a half years have been like for me, but it has been a privilege to take a handful of flaky servers and watch you all turn them into a dependable and essential piece of global tech infrastructure, succeeding at both a technical level and the equally tricky human level of community policies and support. I’m immensely proud of what you’ve all achieved, and I believe there’s a great deal more you can still accomplish. I’ll always be watching, and always around if you need to talk: you can reach me on <contact details redacted>.

As for what’s next for me: npm has been my whole life for over five years! I don’t have any idea right now what will come next, though I intend to take a fair chunk of time off before I make any decisions. But tech is a small world, so I’m sure we’ll meet again. Thank you all.

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