A few months ago, several friends announced taking a few steps back from their hectic work life, taking perhaps on some freelance clients but mostly enjoying life, family, getting into shape, or whatever they felt they had been neglecting in their busy lives as software professionals and entrepreneurs. The term they often used for this was funemployment.

June 30th was my last day doing full-time contracting for Wildfire. I joined the company back in 2008 when the company was basically the co-founders, Victoria and Alain, and a couple of remote contractors. During the past five years I was fortunate enough to see a bootstrapped startup grow to a juggernaut of hundreds of employees and eventually a lucrative acquisition target.

In many ways I always experienced Wildfire as my own product even though that technically never was the case. There’s just something in midwifing a product, seeing its first paying customers, then the first thousand (including several Fortune 50 companies), and so on. That’s a lesson money just cannot buy.

The folks at Wildfire were always awesome to us contractors. We were allowed to work pretty much how much we wanted, wherever we wanted. That might have been just as well from the fells of Lapland as from a B&B somewhere in New Zealand’s South Island. That trust and philosophy also let and motivated us to deliver.

There are some things I missed during the past few years, however. Being wholly subsumed by Wildfire meant that I all but gave up writing and making serious contributions to open source projects. That’s something I want to change.

Say hello to Bear Metal

Working with Erkki, Tarmo, and Lourens for several years built a special bond between us. A 100 % trust in everyone pulling their weight is surprisingly quite a luxury these days. Thus, while our work on Wildfire will soon be done, our work together will not. We’re not burned out enough to look for funemployment. We love what we do. However, one thing we love the most is doing it wherever we want to be, be it hitting the XC tracks of Äkäslompolo, wakeparks (with the bidirectional cable) of Bangkok or trail-marathoning across islands mid-Atlantic. I’d like to call that runemployment.

That’s something we’re not willing to give up. Because of that shared passion and mutual trust we decided to set up a shop of our own, by the four us. We’re called Bear Metal and we’re open for business beginning next fall. We’re a cross-functional team ready to build web businesses from scratch and also provide training and consulting services about building and running large-scale Ruby apps; deploying them with Chef; and ZeroMQ.

Come join us in our run into the future.