Changing roles · Jun 15, 10:56 am

The life of a technologist is never a dull one – I’m pleased to say that, after working for myself for a year and half, I’m about to give up that position and join the team at Bromium as head of their newly formed OS X product group. Bromium are a start-up, based in both Cambridge in the UK and Cupertino in the US, that are still in stealth mode, so I can’t say much about what they do (though that’ll change shortly – a big announcement is scheduled for later this month), but I can say they’re doing something very disruptive related to computer integrity, taking a very different approach to what’s gone before in their particular domain, and they’re very serious about trying to change the face of computing.

I’ve actually already been working for them for a while, albeit as a contractor. Bromium have had around a year building a Windows version of their product, and decided to investigate the feasibility of a Mac OS X version – which is where I came in. Over the last few months, I’ve been building a proof of concept version for the Mac.

And initially that’s where the story was meant to end – I was contracted to do the proof of concept, and then return to my own projects at Digital Flapjack. But Bromium asked me to come in, not just as a developer, but to take this proof of concept, and build a product from it. Not on my own, but as team lead on the project.

It was a hard decision to step away from working on my own things under my own banner. But I always try to evaluate my position on a bunch of metrics – am I having fun? is what I’m building important? am I working with great people? am I being challenged in what I’m doing? When I left Camvine to set up Digital Flapjack it was because the chance of building PlaceWhisper and working for myself ticked most of those boxes (the Nabaztag is nice and all, but probably doesn’t constitute a great team :).

When Bromium came to me and asked me to take this project forward, I was initially hesitant – having essentially worked remotely on a little side project I wasn’t sure it ticked all the boxes I needed it to. However, they clearly saw I needed the bigger picture, and in addition to having met the folk in Cambridge, I flew out to Cupertino to meet the rest of the company. There I got to sit down with the founders and the developers and the sales guys and so on, and I realised that they were offering me something that ticked all the boxes: Bromium’s aim is to make a big impact with its new technology; it’s got a great team of people together to do that in all departments; and they really believe in building a Mac version of the product as a peer to the Windows version – I wasn’t being asked to build a side project, but take charge of a core part of the company.

One thing that particularly impressed me was that they haven’t fallen into a common trap for solutions in this area – which is to deliver a technical product that assumes a technical user. You expect mobile apps companies to understand the importance of user experience (not that they always do…), but less so the people who provide lower level systems solutions like Bromium. But talking to the team at Bromium I realised that they do get that – they want to make a product that is as unobtrusive as it is powerful. As someone who believes in shipping things that are nice for people to use, rather than a chore to use, this really excited me: let’s not just do things really well from a technical viewpoint, but also from a user perspective too.

What they were offering was sufficiently serious that I sat down and compared it with what I was currently doing. As much as I’ve enjoyed working for myself, and I’ve worked with some amazing contracting clients over the last 20 months, the Bromium position offered me a chance to tackle bigger challenges, with some awesome people, and potentially change the world of computing for the better.

Which is why this week I handed over a bundle of A4 paper covered with my signatures to Bromium.

Not goodbye

This doesn’t mean the end for Digital Flapjack and its projects, just a slowing down. There’s two more products in the Digital Flapjack pipeline that should come out in the next month or so, and I’m really looking forward to getting them out. But once they’re out Digital Flapjack will hunker down for a bit, and just keep supporting what it’s already got out there, rather than developing new things. PlaceWhisper will keep going, I’ll make sure that whatever changes happen in iOS 6 DF’s apps all continue to work and so on. Nothing is going to vanish.

Digital Flapjack will go back to being a place where I tinker in my spare time, a place for me to output things that aren’t related to Bromium – my mind doesn’t have an off switch at times, so it’s very useful to have a place to put things that don’t fit otherwhere.

To the future

So, after a brief holiday at the end of the month, you’ll be able to find me in Bromium’s Cambridge offices trying to change the world a little – it’s going to be very exciting. And, on the off chance you’re someone who enjoyed developing for the Mac and fancies some big challenges, I’m looking to build a team, and need great people to come join me on this – it’s not something I can do alone – so drop me a line if you’re interested.

Fun, fun, fun.

  1. Sounds cool; have fun! (I’m still using your OSX2X; works on Lion :)

    — Jon Thackray    Jun 18, 05:17 am    #

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