A month ago, I sat down at my computer and wrote Ten Years, looking back at the decade I have owned ClearSight.
Now, I get to write a very different post. One that looks forward.
This summer in Paris, Ken Miller, Todd Werth, and I met in a beautiful (but hot) flat owned by a French film producer. Ken and Todd, along with most of their InfiniteRed (IR) team, were staying there and attending the RubyMotion #inspect2015 conference.
We were there to talk about merging our two companies into one.
It's unusual for two healthy, profitable, and growing companies to merge. Usually, it's a bailout deal. But our companies are strong. It just so happens that our visions are very much aligned.
Todd and I had become friends over the past year, and I knew Ken from meeting him at the previous #inspect conference in San Francisco, as well as his work on CDQ. Over the months, we started "TOL" (thinking out loud, Todd's favorite acronym) about what it would look like if we were to merge our companies. That led to this meeting in Paris.
By the end of the meeting, it made too much sense not to do it. The new company name will be "Infinite Red, Inc." (note the new space in the name), and will be owned by Ken, Todd, and me.
What this means for ClearSight
We had already started a move away from small business websites. Our focus over the past two years has been increasingly on iPhone app development (via RubyMotion, usually), Rails web applications and e-commerce sites, and a few other larger software development projects.
This will be a continuation of that. InfiniteRed has been a mobile-only development shop, so our focus will shift even more toward mobile. We will continue to design and build larger custom websites in Rails and Middleman, as well as enhance the IR mobile development team.
I have hundreds of long-time clients who don't fit in with this focus. I care about them, and want to make sure they're taken care of. In many cases, we are migrating them to a new spin-off company called Pedal. Pedal is owned by my long-time employee and cousin, Isaac Holmgren, and is focused on small business websites. I also highly recommend my friend and colleague Steve Cross's local design agency, Ambient. For projects that are more design-heavy, or for branding, you are going to be treated very well by that talented team.
Any existing projects will either be moved over to the new company or finished up within ClearSight in the next month or two.
All of my great employees (except Isaac, of course) will be coming with me to the new company. They're excited for the opportunity to work with the talented team at IR.
What this means for Infinite Red (the new company)
Todd Werth will be CEO, Ken Miller will be CFO, and I will be COO. We'll be based in the San Francisco and Portland areas, but most of our team is remote already. We have team members who are nomads working while traveling Europe and the USA, as well as others working out of Korea, Toronto, New Orleans, Portland, and San Francisco.
We are also going to be a teaching/mentoring development shop. My team (who are mostly younger and less experienced) will benefit from the experienced senior software engineers at IR. In turn, the IR team will benefit from the enthusiasm and energy that our team brings to each project.
Todd has owned his own software development businesses since 1999. He's a lot like me; works too many hours, cares deeply about his team, and puts a lot of effort into giving back to the open source community. I've really appreciated Todd's ability to inspire and communicate with my team, and he feels like the right fit for CEO. He'll take better care of my team than I did, and that's very important to me.
Ken brings a different perspective. He's a Harvard CS graduate with an impressive pedigree of Silicon Valley software engineering positions. I've consistently been amazed at his ability to distill problems (whether engineering or financial or otherwise) into their essential parts. This talent gives us a huge edge in focusing on the things that really matter.
What this means for me
I've been running my own business by myself for a long time. It's very rewarding, but also very exhausting. Having an executive team that I trust will be huge.
My day-to-day role will be sales and operations. It's already a huge part of what I do every day, so being able to focus on it will be great. All three owners will be contributing to sales but I'll be primary overseer. I'll also be responsible for scheduling and operations.
Since Todd and Ken are in the Bay Area and I'm up here in the Portland area, we'll be making frequent trips along the west coast to meet. Luckily, we're in the same time zone and a short flight makes this relatively painless.
I'm very excited about the new company. It was time for a change, and this is as close to perfect as I could have envisioned. Who knows...maybe another ten years?
Stay tuned for the official ClearSight, LLC and InfiniteRed, LLC announcements. The new company name is Infinite Red, Inc. It's a little confusing, I admit.