I learned a long time ago never to say “never.” Even though I’ve written many times about the independence I enjoyed as a consultant, I never said that I would never become an employee again.

When I wrote recently about leaving consulting for full-time employment, I was responding to a genuine question posed by a reader. But the timing couldn’t have been better for me personally, because I had already interviewed with my new employer, and I was in the middle of considering whether my true path would lead to them. That article thus flowed out of the considerations I had been weighing for some time.

Oddly, though, I omitted from that post the main reason why I considered a position with a Silicon Valley startup, and that is my need for challenging work. Over the 35 years that I’ve been developing software, I’ve participated in numerous projects that stretched my abilities. In those projects, we created things that nobody else had ever tried before. At the same time, they expanded me into something larger than I had been before (and I’m not talking about pizza-induced love handles). I’m very proud of the work that I’ve done for my clients, but — and I like to think I had a big hand in this — most of their products have become extremely stable. It no longer makes business sense for them to take big risks to create something that will change the world. For a startup, though, that pretty much defines the business model.

Thus, I have accepted a position with RelateIQ in Palo Alto, CA. The future of human communications by means of software is a topic I’m passionate about. That’s why I joined the RSS Advisory Board five years ago. It’s why I’ve been writing online in various forms for the last 12 years. Now I’ll have the opportunity to work with a group of incredibly intelligent people to add new dimensions to communication that are so useful that we may one day take them for granted.

I’ll pack up my stuff and move down to California in the next week or so. Before that, I’m taking down my shingle. Because of an exclusivity clause in my employment contract, Camden Software Consulting will cease to exist after 22 years of business (to the month!). I will, however, continue to write for TechRepublic — and, at least for now — in this column.