For me, 2016 was a difficult and tiring year in many ways. I didn’t feel like I got things quite right, or that I could be the best version of myself. Not professionally nor personally. I suppose you have an in-between year now and then. And although a year is an arbitrary and fictitious way of looking at time, it does serve well as a marker to look both forwards and backwards. So I’ll take it. Time to look forwards. But not before I take my annual look back.
I’ve done these types of summaries for a few years and they often become heavily tilted towards professional accomplishments or events. This isn’t because they are more important, but rather because they are well documented and easier to understand without context. Many important — more personal — things happened during the year but didn’t make this list because of this. For instance, following my daughter’s development during the year has been incredible, but hard to summarize accurately in bullet points.
- Watched The One I Love which was really weird and suggestive. Made me think.
- Listened to Beats 1 on Apple Music and discovered quite a few good songs. Like Somebody Else by The 1975, Low Life by Future, and Nothing Will by Wretch 32. Added them to my Spotify playlist and moved along.
- My Dad got featured on Lensculture for some of his black/white photographs.
- Was impressed by a great article on Axel Springer in the NYTimes about how the went to Silicon Valley and changed the way they did business. It was to become very clear during the course of the year that my employer at the time hadn’t read the article.
- Bought Powerball tickets for $50 with Caroline at our corner shop. If we had won, we would have bought out Toca Boca ourselves. We didn’t win.
- Flew to New York for a board meeting. It was weird.
- Celebrated the 10 year anniversary of Discobelle.net. The blog turned DJ act turned record label has come a long way.
- Started the habit of reading FT Weekend regularly. Still love it.
- Flew to Stockholm for an intense week of work.
- Flew to Toronto for a brief stop. I would go many more times over the year. Nice place though.
- Went to the Super Bowl as my first American football game ever. A bit unfair on the average fan, yes. Experienced peak America when fighter jets flew over the stadium at the end of the national anthem.
- Was interviewed in Quartz about digital, unstructured play
- Spent a ridiculous amount of time on trying to get Toca Boca sold. Countless hours. More on that below.
- Toca Boca got a nice mention about gender fluid design in Fast Company.
- Got a strange visit from the Swedish Government Committee on the Labor Market (Arbetsmarknadsutskottet). I tend not to host these sorts of things, but the thought of having 20 members of parliament in our sofa talking about Toca Boca seemed too weird to miss.
- Obsessed over Santigold’s Banshee.
- Was interviewed in a lovely and unusual piece on Recode.
- Went to SXSW and was on a panel with the pediatrician who wrote the screen time guidelines for the AAP. That’s how you staff a panel. Not like this garbage that I attended the year earlier.
- Most listened song: 4U by Fwdslxsh
- John Maeda called out Toca Boca and our gender neutral approach to design. A proud moment.
- Zaha Hadid — my favorite architect — passed away in what was to become a year with that theme.
- Started baking a lot of bread as a way to unwind. Kept going the rest of the year. I have two breads rising as I write this even. Mainly did the No-Knead Bread.
- Flew to Stockholm for a two week stint, and stopped off in New York before I headed home.
- Vice called us “The Disney Destroyers of the App Store” which isn’t entirely fair, but a fun headline for the archive.
- Digital Arts showed off our new and beautiful Stockholm office.
- The sale of Toca Boca finally — FINALLY — went through. Such an incredible relief. I was glad to have this super long process behind me, glad to have owners that actively wanted us, and glad that I could start looking forward instead of pedaling water which is what I had done for almost 18 months. I could write a whole (but boring) book on what happened during this process, but I’ll just settle for a few things:
- If it sounds like I’m making a big deal about all of this, then it is because I am. It consumed and drained me for almost 1,5 years so I think it’s justified.
- It felt like we were so close, with so many parties, on so many occasions. We probably weren’t in reality. But this led to a rollercoaster of emotions for me at least.
- I stand behind 100% of the decisions and actions that I did throughout the whole process. That is more than many others close to these matters should be able to say. It brought out some bad behavior in people that I won’t be forgetting anytime soon. Some things were just disappointing. Having management write a congratulatory email is free. And it speaks volumes when you don’t. Makes me never want to go back.
- A common threat is a strong unifier. The team working on this formed a very special bond throughout all of this. A special thanks to Jonathan and Caroline.
- So much of the media reporting on this story was often close, but incorrect. It was a very interesting and illuminating experience being on this side of the story. The reporting was completely fair game and it was definitely newsworthy. It just wasn’t especially correct, a lot of the time.
- It’s over now. Time to move on. Upwards, onwards.
- Toca Boca got a huge feature in EDGE which was a landmark in terms of recognition.
- Took a few days off and went with Miriam and Miranda to Bodega Bay. Great place. Sebastopol is a treat.
- Heard Drake’s Controlla for the first time and just loved the beat. It became my most played track of 2016.
- Drove to Monterey and participated at App Camp which feels like a scout camp for grown ups with smartphones.
- The Atlantic interviewed me about designing beyond blue and pink. A theme for the year in many ways.
- Caroline officially came back from maternity leave. She was very much missed.
- Flew to Toronto for a deep Spin Master immersion.
- Sago Mini started selling their beautiful playsets and thereby entered the toy market for real.
- Out of all the Linkedin memes over the year — and there were many good ones — this one was the best.
- Frostberg visited on the official day of closing and wrote this article (in Swedish).
- Soft launched Toca TV in Canada with a first beta version. Big milestone.
- Stumbled across a Swedish songwriter called Ana Diaz that made this most lovely track.
- Flew to Sweden for a (too) long work/vacation summer stint.
- Started the vacation in Malmö which is always great. We house swapped for the first time and that was great.
- Laid awake with some jetlag and refreshed the Brexit poll numbers. Couldn’t believe my eyes.
- In the middle of the Sweden trip, I flew to Tokyo with Magnus for a few days of culture, food and laughs. It was spectacular. We stayed at the Andaz which might be the best hotel I’ve ever been to. Exploring in day, swimming and sauna in the afternoons, followed by dinners at night. So, so good.
- Bought my parents electric bikes. The kind of thing they wouldn’t have bought themselves.
- My grandmother passed away a few weeks earlier and we had her funeral in Resteröd. She had a good run. She was 90 and the doctor said that if he could chose how to die, this would be the way to go. That provided some comfort in a difficult situation. She was the last one of my grandparents to leave us and the one I had spent the most time with by far. A fantastic person.
- Made chocolate babka. Took all day to make, but lasted a week.
- Went to Tomas’ and Kristin’s lovely wedding in Skåne. Wore a decent hat.
- During 8 weeks we stayed in 9 places in four cities. That’s too much. Especially when you have a small kid and all the stuff that comes along with that. Suffice to say that I won’t be doing that again.
- Went to a wedding on a boat. That’s a first.
- Had a somewhat cathartic work session with Caroline and Emil for three days. The timing was bad, but it was well needed. Sometimes you just have to sit down and really talk things through.
- Flew straight to Toronto and got on stage for the annual Sales Summit. It wasn’t what I expected, but I did my best to accommodate. Added flames to my Keynote slides.
- Listened to Ocean Drive — Hayden James Remix on repeat.
- My sister Annie visited SF which was fab. We went to the newly reopened SFMoma which looks spectacular. Well done, Snøhetta.
- Took a day off and went to museums with Miranda. We crafted and made art for a day. Really fun.
- This month got kind of lost in a blur somehow. Not sure what really happened.
- Toca TV launched and got this amazing headline in Wired UK.
- Went to LA and spoke with USA Today and Fast Company visited the Brooklyn studio.
- Flew to Stockholm for about 48 hours to speak at the Pontus Schultz foundation. Pontus was a former colleague and friend of mine that left us far too early. It was an honor to do this.
- We bought a house! We weren’t looking for a house and we weren’t looking in the Sunset. But here we are. And we love it.
- Miranda experienced her first pumpkin patch. Mine too, come to think of it.
- Watched a lot of Samantha Bee who did some spectacularly funny and sharp pre-election reporting. I think her following will just continue to grow. She’s got it.
- Went to New York with Martin for a few very fun and relaxing days of art and conversation.
- Toronto again. Had a really rough meeting and was so drained by it all that instead of going back to a meeting room to sulk, we ended up in a Turkish hammam next door instead. Half of the management team, in a steam room, wondering what the hell just happened. It was a bad day, but a good memory.
- There was this big US election, but you’ve already heard about that.
- Had Thanksgiving at our place and I cooked for 14 people for the first time ever.
- Watched The Crown and gained some sort of strange respect for the British royals. I’m sure it will pass.
- Bought paint for Miranda which she absolutely loved.
- Clue — my only seed investment to date — raised $20M in a Series B. No thanks to me of course, but I was happy about it regardless.
- Went back to acupuncture again after a too long break.
- Tried to close out 2016 and get ready for what’s coming around the corner. A lot of preparation at work.
- Picked up This is Water again. Needed it.
- Took Miranda to pick crab shells on the beach.
- I realized that I missed writing and thinking about things outside of my immediate profession. So I started by ranting a little about why financial forecasting isn’t good enough.
- I found myself sitting on the floor, building IKEA furniture, and listening to “I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue” from the BBC. It reminded me of my dad that often used to do something very similar when I grew up. Getting old is funny like that.
- Went to the Japanese baths and relaxed more than I had for months.
- Spent Christmas in our new house which was exactly what I wanted to do.
That was 2016. See you in a year’s time.