We live and breathe Drupal and Magento. Since 2007, we have launched hundreds of websites -- from major online retailers to small nonprofits -- backed by solid, elegant code that works beautifully and stands the test of time.
We understand the needs of the CMO, and we offer the strategic vision of a CTO. We have a vested interest in your success, and we’re here to support your goals and needs -- however much (or little) you want to be involved.
We are listeners first, doers second. We won't bombard you with jargon or try to talk you into solutions you don't need.
We're not a huge agency with a lot of overhead, but we’re more than a band of contractors. We have the flexibility and bench depth to handle just about any project and timeline.
Check out our Careers page to learn more about what it's like working at Bear Group, the benefits we offer, and what positions we are currently accepting resumes for. Read each job description for application details.
Bear Group was founded in Seattle in January 2007 on a passion for open source platforms— especially Drupal, and later Magento—and their power to grow a business. Small businesses no longer have to license expensive software to get started, or depend on a webmaster to keep their sites up to date; large businesses are made more efficient with a rock-solid CMS and e-commerce platform that don’t require the development or management of proprietary platforms.
Since Bear Group opened, we have been able to help companies grow their business in many different ways. Sometimes it’s by creating a new sales channel by opening an online store-- or driving sales by vastly improving an existing one. Sometimes it’s by developing a more professional, authoritative web presence, or building a site that’s ready for search engine marketing. Sometimes it’s by empowering a business to manage its own site so it can keep it fresh and ensure that customers have a reason to visit. And sometimes it’s in the cost savings of making a web business so much more efficient.
We work with clients ranging in size and representing many different industries. My own background is a mix of technology and business (Computer Science degree as an undergrad, followed by an MBA), and I’ve worked as a founding member of three startups as well as on 200+ marketing/technology projects for Microsoft. So I enjoy the challenges of both a new business and a larger, more established one, and I like to look at growth potential holistically.
At the heart of everything we do is strong client communication. We challenge our clients with fresh perspective, we go deep on every idea, and we push ourselves to deliver innovative solutions for all our clients.
Bear Group's team has grown over time to include developers in different specialties, technical project managers, consultants, and content coordinators. Our services have also expanded—not only do we build websites and e-commerce solutions, but we deploy dedicated development teams for large, long-term projects and provide Drupal and Magento consulting. We also offer ongoing consulting and support to all existing clients—100+ at last count.
Please be in touch with any comments or questions as you look through our website!
Greg Bear, Founder / President
Each of our TPM's are trained in agile project management and possess extensive experience working with clients to develop their web projects. Our TPM's are also lead by a certified Scrum Master, a prestigious recognition awarded by the Scrum Alliance to experts of agile development frameworks.
We have been working with Magento Commerce as our primary eCommerce platform for clients since its first release in 2008. All of our developers and technical PM's have become experts in Magento. Additionally, a few of our developers also hold a Magento Developer Plus certification, a credential earned by only the most expert of Magento developers.
Greg founded Bear Group in January 2007 on a passion for open source WCMS platforms—especially Drupal, Wordpress, and later Magento Commerce—and their power to grow a business.
His background is a mix of technology and business (Computer Science degree as an undergrad, followed by an MBA), and has worked as a founding member of three startups as well as on 200+ marketing/technology projects for Microsoft.
Originally from Illinois and Colorado, Greg has lived in Seattle since graduating from college in 1993. He lives on Queen Anne with his wife Molly and their three boys. He is an avid swimmer and crossfitter though most evenings this year you’d find him cheering his kids in Little League at Seattle baseball fields.
What do you like best about living in the Queen Anne neighborhood?
I moved to Seattle in 1993, and to Queen Anne about 12 years ago, before Amazon, the Gates Foundation, Facebook, Adobe, Google, and Tableau - although now that all these great companies have moved in around the neighborhood it's become an even better location.
Queen Anne is just a short drive from the Seattle Center and downtown Seattle. It’s walkable, you can get to know your neighbors, there’s a solid little league scene, and there’s great schools nearby. I love where I live, but I think anyone you talk to that lives in Seattle will say the same thing about their own neighborhood.
Have you traveled much?
I’ve been to New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, and Italy. I grew up surrounded by stories of the world, my Grandpa Bear was a corn seed scientist and planted corn all over the globe. He would visit distant countries to see his crops growing in different climates and brought back lots of stories and slideshows.
I don’t think I’ve traveled very much in comparison to my wife, Molly, who speaks seven different languages and has traveled all over the world as a student and for work.
I have, however, traveled quite a bit around the U.S. I went to five different colleges as an undergrad - including two different music schools where I studied Jazz piano and composition - and ended up finishing my degree at Evergreen. During that time I worked as a musician and after buying a Toyota pickup realized I could go wherever I wanted. Excluding Alaska and Hawaii, I ended up driving through every state - usually on the way to a new college.
What’s been your experience with web development?
My father and grandfather ran Bear Hybrids, and had piles of data on corn which they stored in huge tape machines. It was a giant room full of computers that contained detailed information on corn, most likely the same amount of information that could now be easily stored on a single flash drive.
My father was really interested in computers when they first came out, and brought home a first desktop in 1982 when I was 13. I started doing Basic programming on MS-DOS. I used Basic to create drawings by plotting screen pixels, and played a lot of Zork version 1, and was into what was probably the very first picture of the internet in PLATO.
I went on to study computer programming in college because it was something that had always come easily to me. My interests in music and programming later merged when I got a job working as part of an audio team at Microsoft. I helped to build CD-ROMs for different music titles and worked on projects like Microsoft’s Explorapedia, managing the team that did the sound design. One of Microsoft’s first ventures into the internet was with a business unit called CitySearch, similar to an early version of Yelp. They built local guides to cities and were all about the future of local advertising. With them, I switched from CD-ROM work to internet work.
I built my first website in the mid 90’s, shortly after a friend who was at UW showed me Mosaic. I got my MBA at UW right in the middle of the internet boom, launching a company with two classmates called World2Market out of the UW business plan competition in 1998. We worked with NGOs and the Peace Corps, providing a marketplace for artists working in the developing world. It had a great local VC’s backing by Madrona Ventures, Arch Ventures, NW Ventures and others, quickly growing into a seventy-person organization.
I went on to work for Catalysis where we ran most software trial marketing programs for Microsoft. I ran the business development side of operations, managing things on the front-end of the company. I later worked with a friend from business school during the first year of his startup called RealSelf. The year after I started my own web development company, Bear Group.
What was your favorite movie this last year?
The Big Short, such a good depiction of what happened with the housing market bust a few years ago and very funny. The Martian was a close second.
What does your perfect day look like?
My current perfect day involves being in less than two meetings and having enough time to focus on one thing for more than an hour. Also cheering my kids on at their various sports - it’s so fun to get to be a fan of your kids.
My old perfect day was a long hike in the Cascades, snowboarding, skiing, hanging out with friends, working on my pickup truck, drinking coffee, and playing piano.
Why did you decide to start Bear Group?
Every business, every marketer, should have the ability to login and manage their own web experience. Marketers should be able to run their websites on their own, telling their own stories and managing their own content. I saw an opportunity to do this with open source tools and platforms.
I come from an entrepreneurial family, and I wanted to create a company structured in a way that provided quality service and was an enjoyable place to work. The “group” part of Bear Group is important, I work with a team of people that thrive on a group dynamic and have the ability to build stuff together and create things as a group - it’s honestly not that different from my days working in groups with other musicians, and is always a super creative process.
Bear Group has been my most rewarding work. I’m excited to face new challenges, and it’s interesting every day.
If you have any additional questions for Greg, or just want to send him a note, tweet him @bearideas!
Emily has been a technical project manager at Bear Group since 2011. Emily's role is to lead our enterprise projects throughout the development phase. She has become an expert on site building, which we define as implementing all aspects of Drupal configuration from the admin panel. She provides the glue between a website's design, content, functionality and code and works actively with the client and development teams. Emily is also a certified ScrumMaster, a credential which signifies her deep expertise in agile project management.
She has a MA degree in Ancient History and a BA in Political Science and History. She is enrolled in yoga teacher training and volunteers for the Down Syndrome Association of LA by helping them with their website and yoga program.
Why did you decide to get an MA in history? What historical event/ time period is the most interesting to you?
I started out as a Political Science major and originally planned to go to law school. But I had an amazing history professor and became fascinated by Greek and Roman history. I then traveled to Europe to visit historical sites in Italy and Greece and I decided to pursue a Masters in Ancient History. At the moment, the Peloponnesian war is my favorite historical event, but that changes depending on the day, just like my favorite historical figures (for me, it’s a close tie between Alexander the Great and Seneca). I thought about pursuing a Ph.D. but got lured away by digital world. When I was in grad school I was working for a company part-time as a webmaster and I found that I preferred the work-lifestyle balance.
How did you find Bear Group?
I was at a digital media agency and planned to leave to pursue screenwriting full-time. I figured I'd pick up some part-time work in the meantime and came across a job posting for Bear Group. I still do screenwriting on the side, but love what I do at Bear Group and who I work with, so quickly decided not to pursue writing full-time.
What would you recommend to LA visitors? Where else have you traveled?
The beach! I like to go to this little hidden beach off of Malibu Road that's so beautiful. I then go to this nearby restaurant called Ollo for brunch. The Getty Villa is a great place to visit; they have a wonderful collection of Greek and Roman artifacts. I’ve traveled to England, Scotland, Ireland, The Czech Republic, Greece, Italy, Switzerland, France, and Iceland. I actually lived in Iceland for a month while studying abroad when it was light out for 23 hours a day.
Can you remember the first computer you ever owned?
It was one of those apple computers from 1986. My family would use it for playing games, but my mom preferred for us to be outside and play sports.
How did you become interested in site building?
When I was working at the digital media agency, Michele, who is now a Sr. Developer at Bear Group, would teach me how to help out with site building in Drupal. It's one of my favorite parts of my job.
What kind of work do you do with the Down Syndrome Association of LA?
They have an annual event called a Buddy Walk, and I help them maintain their website and work as a consultant for them on moving into new integrations and systems. I’m also a certified yoga instructor so have helped out with teaching toddlers in their yoga program.
If you have any additional questions for Emily, send her a message via her LinkedIn!
Jay Becker joined Bear Group’s team in February of 2017. Jay originally started out working on the hardware side of computers before eventually migrating over to software, giving him a uniquely comprehensive understanding of technology. A Magento veteran, Jay is a skilled developer.
An Iowa native, Jay has recently moved to Kansas City with his family. When he’s not coding, you can find Jay golfing, tinkering with his 3D printer, or maintaining his title of ping pong champion.
Where did you grow up?
Le Mars, Iowa. It has the dubious claim of being the ice cream capital of the world–awhile back they actually petitioned for legislation to give them the title.
What influenced you to pursue web development?
It kind of just happened. My parents got our first computer when I was young, an Apple IIGS; my parents used for work, we kids primarily used it for playing games. Since then we’ve always had computers around and I was always tinkering with them.
I started seriously experimenting with web development in high school and college, but my first few jobs centered around hardware. I had an opportunity to switch over to web development full time at a previous job, and have stuck with it since then.
Where can you be found when you’re not managing projects?
I’m very competitive and have fun playing most games, whether that’s sports, board games, or video games. Even if (or perhaps especially when) competing with only myself.
I also have a 3D printer that I’ve been making doodads with. I like making things in general, which is on-par with my interest in webdev. I just designed and printed a replacement visor clip for our van, it reminds me a bit of webdev where you can write the code and see it in action right away.
What do you recommend to visitors of your corner of the world?
There’s a lot to do in Kansas City, and we’re fairly new to the city. There is a lot of history in the area as many settlers passed through on their way out west, so there are quite a few interesting museums and historical places. For any visit to the midwest in general you need to come in the summer time and get some fresh sweet corn from a roadside stand. It’s just not the same as what you get in the store, and served best loaded up with butter, salt, and pepper.
What’s a goal of yours?
I love snowboarding, and I’ve always wanted to snowboard in the Alps. On the other end of the weather spectrum I’d also like to spend some time living on a houseboat somewhere warm like the Caribbean, someday.
Are there any projects–developing companies, open-source communities, new tech–that you’re interested in at the moment?
3D printing is, of course, interesting to me. Recently a few patents expired and since then 3D printing has become more affordable to the consumer. This also means that there’s a lot of people that are finding new ways to use 3D printing and improve upon it.
I’m also keeping an eye on Virtual Reality technology, but haven’t taken the leap to try it out yet. I’ll let others work out the first generation bugs, then I’ll probably make the leap.
Find out more about Jay or shoot him a message via his LinkedIn!
Kevin Davison joined Bear Group early in 2017. With two decades of experience and an enthusiasm for tackling new development projects, Kevin has been involved in several entrepreunerial ventures since his first business, Quevin, which he founded in 2007. With a unique perspective of both business and technology, Kevin possesses an expertise for finding technical solutions.
An extensive world traveler, Kevin and his family have recently moved to the Seattle area, and are loving their new home. Kevin plans to travel once again, as soon as he can convince his daughter not to worry about sharks in China.
Where did you grow up?
I was born in Hawaii, during Dad’s service in the United States Air Force Band. At a time too early for me to recall, my parents returned home to Illinois near the Mississippi river. I grew up close to family and their farms, far from any ocean. We lived in various small towns near corn fields to run through, lakes to fish in, and creeks with lots of crawfish to catch and bring home.
Who’s been your biggest inspiration throughout your career?
I’ve been inspired by so many people I’ve been lucky to know, and most recently by my daughter. She teaches me to ask many questions with fresh, new perspectives on life.
How did you become interested in web development?
Because my father was developing software in the 80’s, I had access to a few computers to toy with (and jam the disk drive to). I wrote some BASIC on an Apple IIe in middle school. I then discovered BBS and free AOL CD-ROM’s, soon to understand that there was much more potential with the internet. I built my own x86’s as each CPU outdated, and I began designing simple graphics in Photoshop while writing HTML to share content on web pages. My first sites were volunteer work, and then I started to sell web design and development services in 1997.
What do you like best about living in Seattle?
We live central to the ocean, trees, and mountains. As well as all that Seattle has to offer with culture, food, and entertainment. It’s also great to raise a family, living north of town in Shoreline. I moved my family from San Francisco in 2015. We now live closer to family and have a better way of life, and we haven’t looked back since.
What’s your favorite travel story to tell?
I’ve been grateful to have travelled to over 26 countries on multiple occasions before getting married and raising my daughter. She doesn’t want to travel to China yet, “because of the sharks.” Or Australia, “because of box jellies.”
I was traveling from Laos to Thailand in December 2004, and my destination would have taken me to Koh Phi Phi, in the Andaman Sea. Instead, I met a Scottish friend in Cambodia who insisted I divert my itinerary to a secluded beach on Koh Phangan. That was in the Gulf of Thailand, where I was much safer from the Tsunami on the 26th. My family at home was terrified, and I had to climb a hill with cell signal to let them know I was just fine.
Are there any open-source projects that you’re interested in at the moment?
I’ve concentrated most of my attention on Drupal since 2009 (as “Quevin”). More recently, OpenAI fascinates me and I’d like to learn more in the area of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI). I’m a technology generalist in the area of complex system integrations, quickly learning new technologies from project-to-project.
If you have any additional questions for Kevin or would like to welcome him to Bear Group, you can tweet/follow him at @Quevin.
Jonah has been a senior developer for Bear Group since 2011. He brings his exceptional knowledge of Magento, the Drupal API and solid front-end development skills to each project he leads. He has been the lead developer on several of our largest implementations including Precor, Domu and most recently our open source Magento extension development with Amazon Payments. Jonah also holds a Magento Developer Plus certification, a credential earned by only the most expert of Magento developers.
Jonah has a B.A. from the University of Washington (a double major in Psychology and Communication), and 10+ years of experience in web application development. He comes from a long line of Northwest engineers, is a natural coder, and celebrates all his birthdays at The Crab Pot along Seattle’s Waterfront. Currently coding (on non-Seahawk game days only) from Bremerton on the Olympic Peninsula with his sidekick Rooh.
What is it like living in Bremerton, Washington?
It’s an hour ferry ride from Seattle, and really convenient to get to the city. I like being close to the Olympic Peninsula and the Olympic National Forest. I like to do hikes and trail runs through the forest and my dog, Rooh, loves it as well.
What do you recommend to people visiting Bremerton?
There’s a great golf course in this area, really beautiful. There’s also some good breweries that serve a great scotch ale. I particularly recommend Silver City Brewery. And of course the hiking.
How did you transition from a major in Psychology and communication to development?
I’ve always been into programming, and in college I created a startup that was a social networking site called Umatch. We were trying to sell it to student bodies - there were a lot of people trying to do what Facebook did during that time - but it was great experience as far as coding. I taught myself PHP and MySQL and eventually I got a job at the University of Washington working as a web developer. After that I was then hired in the private sector and went from firm to firm.
Psychology is definitely a fun and intriguing subject and I’m still very interested in it. I just recently read Strangers to Ourselves by Timothy D. Wilson, a great book about the adaptive unconscious. Another favorite of mine is the book The Practicing Mind, which focuses on the psychology of being in the present and focusing on the process instead of the final end project.
What was your first computer?
It was something I built myself, a 386 20MHz IBM with a 40MB hard drive and 2MB of RAM. I got it in ‘92 ‘93, when I was about 9 or 10 and trying to create my own computer games. We eventually ran out of games to play and I wanted to make more on my own. They were "Choose Your Own Adventure" type games and I think that’s how I initially started to learn programming.
How did the Crab Pot tradition get started?
I found the Crab Pot when I worked at Gage Design and really liked the tradition we had of going every year during Memorial Day weekend. You order a big bowl of seafood, things like crab and oysters, and it’s all mixed together and they dump it on the table in front of you. You eat it all with lots of butter and it’s great.
What’s your favorite book you’ve read?
I really like science fiction, some of my favorites have been Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, Dune by Frank Herbert, and Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card.
If you have any additional questions for Jonah, or just want to send him a note, send him a tweet @jonahj!
Michele has been a senior developer at Bear Group since 2012. She has typically worked on long-term enterprise projects, including World Vision, Precor, and currently HMP. She is an excellent all-around developer but has developed a specialty in content migration. Most recently working on a 6-month migration of a single site over to a SaaS implementation on Drupal 7. Migrating data from 85 sites to one individual instance. She is deeply familiar with the Migration API for Drupal and has written many custom migration scripts.
Michele has been a programmer for 15 years working in Drupal for the last 5. Prior to Bear Group, she worked on a large Drupal installation for Sony Pictures. Michele has a degree in software engineering, lives in Seattle, and feels fortunate to have been around at the very start of the internet era.
How did you find Bear Group?
I had worked with Emily in the past and learned about Bear Group when she went to work for them.
What first interested you in web development?
I was working at Immunex helping to create the forms used for pharmaceutical trials as I had a background in photo typesetting. Some of the researchers wanted to share this exciting new thing called a “browser” - Mosaic. They had been using Gopher prior to that and the new browser technology promised to make sharing scientific papers and images much easier. I noticed that this new markup - HTML - looked like the typesetting markup I used. I was one of the first people I knew that had a web page.
And to my shame, probably one of the first people to have very loud background gifs and blinking text.
Can you remember the first computer you’ve ever had?
A Commodore 64. I was in high school and on long, rainy, Washington afternoons I taught myself Basic so I could hear what some piano scores sounded like since I figured out how to write the notes in 4-bit sound.
What do you like best about Seattle?
It’s a very relaxed, laid back town. For visitors, I recommend enjoying the Washington State Ferry system and Pike Place Market.
Do you consider yourself more of a movie buff or a book lover? Do you have any recommendations?
I like podcasts and audio books, particularly history and non-fiction. While I’m not much into movies, I do like historical dramas like Downton Abbey and pretty much anything to do with science and nature.
If you aren’t coding, what are you most likely to be doing?
I like to watch documentaries, read, write, and garden.
If you have any additional questions for Michele or you just want to say hello, send her a tweet @WickhamMichele!
Steve joined Bear Group in late 2015. With over 10 years of experience as a full-stack web developer, Steve brings his expertise and pursuit of perfection to every line of code he writes. Steve also holds a Magento Developer Plus certification, a credential earned by only the most expert of Magento developers. His skillset is a great complement for our Magento development team and software engineers.
When Steve isn't writing code, he is a hard guy to keep up with, as his offline pursuits take him outdoors biking, hiking, skiing, behind the lens of his camera, and traveling extensively.
What first interested you in web development?
When I was in kindergarten I missed a field trip and ended up spending the day helping the librarian set up the school’s new computer. She couldn’t figure it out, but it made sense to me. I grew up with the invention of home PCs and I’ve been an engineer my whole life. Growing up, I would take things apart - like the VCR - and put them back together. With my experience in hardware and electrical engineering, I have always enjoyed connecting systems to share information and simplify processes. Ever since I started using the internet to connect to information for work, hobbies, and everyday life, I have been driven to help make it a more fun, cooler place. As network bandwidths increase with the advances in open source technology, I am drawn in by general intrigue and excitement for what's coming next. And do you want to know what’s ironic? I hate typing.
What was the first computer you owned and how old were you when you got it?
I learned on my family PC, a Compaq Portable PC, when I was six years old. I had my first personal computer when I was 15, it was a 386SX that I built in 1993 with 8 MB of RAM.
What is your favorite aspect of web development?
Knowing there are thousands of people using applications and tools I have created and contributed to. To me, this means connecting people and systems to make everyday tasks simpler while using data to drive cool web experiences. At a previous job I developed background music systems. Have you heard that music in Abercrombie and Fitch? I made it exactly as loud as it legally can be.
What has your experience working with Bear Group been like so far?
It’s been great! They’re a great group of people to work with and there’s a lot of support and encouragement to keep up with new technology. We work with an interesting client base; businesses vary widely and it helps keep projects fresh. It’s been interesting for me to merge the reality of what clients want with what we develop and find the best solution for them.
What kind of music do you recommend to fellow web developers?
I don’t have a preferred genre, I just like good music. EDM is really good for long code pushes to help keep pounding out code beat by beat. For planning and scoping, I like something mellow like reggae or folk music. Black Breath is a good band but very niche, I have to be in the right mood.
We hear you’ve traveled extensively, what’s been your wildest adventure?
I’ve been to Switzerland, Austria, Copenhagen, Mexico, and Canada. I travel to Hawaii as often as I can, and I travel for skiing most winters. I went to Rome recently with my wife and two-month-old daughter. It was amazing being so close to history; being able to see a Roman road or the crypts where the early, persecuted Christians were buried in. As for the food, people eat gelato and drink cappuccinos all the time, any time, morning, noon, and night. And the variety of pizza changes based on region, a Roma pizza will have a crispier crust than a Naples pizza. Getting to Rome was a little crazy, at one point I was changing my daughter in a terminal in Paris when I realized that our flight’s departure gate had changed last minute. I had five minutes to sprint to the other side of the airport! As I've gotten older my trips have definitely become more tame. Rome was a great trip, quite an adventure.
If you have any questions for Steve or would like to welcome him, you can tweet/follow him on Twitter at @SteveSnowRider. You can also view Steve's Magento Certification Profile to see more information about his credential.
Matthew joined Bear Group in 2012 with experience managing site content, designing websites and implementing front-end code to bring designs to life in the browser.
Matthew earned a BBA with a focus on Marketing and brings 7 years of experience as a web designer to the team. Blending a passion for technology and good design he understands web development as a service of marketing. Matthew enjoys collaboration, critical thinking, and problem-solving with a team. Versed in all aspects of the web, he is comfortable communicating with developers, designers and business-minded folks alike.
Matthew has long been fascinated with the Internet -- since saving up for a 14.4 kbit/s modem was something an inquisitive kid would do. He finds pleasure in grid-based design, typography, cooking, and guitar.
When did you get your first computer? What kinds of things did you do with it?
I received my first computer in the mid 80’s. My family bought an Apple IIc and I used it to play the computer game “Zork.” By late elementary school I was already really interested in connectivity and that computers could essentially act like phones. I was interested in the graphic user input side of things.
Can you remember where your early interest in computers came from?
I remember going over to a friend’s house - they had a dial up - and he was telling me how they got Super Bowl game day recipes off the internet. I was really interested in what his dad was telling me about what the internet would be and what it could do so far.
What’s your favorite kind of music? What do you like to play on your guitar?
I like all music, and depending on my mood I like playing acoustic and or electric music.
What does your perfect day look like?
It starts with a good coffee and ends with a home cooked meal, then doing some coding and a good workout in between. I like to cook, and cooking was a hobby I discovered on my own. It’s an activity you start paying more attention to when you’re eating healthy and experimenting with recipes. I could eat breakfast for any meal of the day.
How did you first connect with Bear Group?
I first worked with Bear Group when I was doing web design by one of their previous clients, the gaming company PopCap. PopCap reached out to Bear Group to move on from a proprietary CMS to a Drupal install and I had the opportunity to work with Greg for what turned out to be a year and a half long project. When I left PopCap I joined Bear Group and started working more closely with Drupal.
What do you recommend to visitors to Seattle?
I moved to Seattle from Atlanta in 2004 and I love it here. Get out and enjoy the outdoors, day hike, see the mountains and water. There’s a really great food scene here, make sure you check out the farmer’s market and try a local restaurant tour.
If you have any additional questions for Matthew, or just want to send him a note, message him via his Linkedin profile!
Shawn has been a senior front-end developer at Bear Group since 2014. Before becoming a developer, Shawn was on the design side of website projects. With 10+ years of experience linking design and development, he has brought to Bear Group a passion to bridging the gap between design and development, and a critical eye for user experience and website usability.
When not writing code or designing, you are likely to find Shawn out at his favorite secret fishing spot or out on the slopes near his home in Pontiac Michigan.
How did you become interested in web development?
I initially went to college to become an illustrator, I have an graphic design degree with a dual focus in illustration and print identity (like corporate identity). When I graduated there wasn’t much of a living to be made as a graphic designer. Most places were hiring people without an education to do graphic design and paid them minimum wage for their work. So I decided to stay away from the graphic design industry. I had self-taught myself web development as a hobby and I got a position at a design firm to maintain their websites and do print design. From there I expanded from print to web and video production and became the firm’s new developer.
How did you end up at Bear Group?
A friend of mine was moving to Seattle. He had quit his job and found a new position with Bear Group. He decided Bear Group was not what he was looking for so he introduced me as his replacement.
What does your perfect day look like?
On a river, fishing. The two things I need for a perfect day.
What do you recommend to visitors to your area of Michigan?
They say that you can throw a stone and hit a lake, because there’s water everywhere, so there’s also a lot of great fishing spots and places to swim. However, if you come in the winter, I recommend sticking to winter sports. I prefer to snowboard.
How did you first become interested in fishing?
I’ve been fishing my whole life. My mom’s family fished and hunted year-round for food. When I was a kid, my grandfather would fish for the family, and we would fish for dinners most of the time growing up.
Would you consider yourself a big reader or more of a movie buff?
I’m not an avid reader, when I was in school and they would tell me to read a novel I would rather read a biography than fiction. Even today, I’d rather spend hours reading some kind of guide or manual than a novel. I like watching Anime as well.
If you have any additional questions for Shawn, or just want to send him a note, leave him a message below!
Chris has been working with Drupal since 2007. He is based in Jasper, Alberta and is an avid cyclist, climber and skier.
How did you first become interested in web development?
I played with computers from a young age, my uncle and I developed computer games on our Commodore 64. Later when I was in college I realized that I liked the dynamic career that came with web development.
What’s the craziest work experience you’ve ever had?
At one point I had a job reading electrical meters, running the routes. I was chased by dogs more times than I can count, but once I was chased by a huge chicken. ‘Beware of the chicken'. I also wanted to be a chef for a while and worked at Heliski Place until 2000 but eventually I decided that I didn’t like the lifestyle.
What does your perfect day look like?
Sleeping in, getting a good coffee, going out for lunch, and cycling in the afternoon. I’m a competitive cyclist, and this area is great for long-distance mountain bike racing.
Which do you prefer, reading books or watching films?
I think I do both equally, I like scifi and action stories told on any medium. Right now I’m reading The Rescue of Bat 21 by Darrel Whitcomb, which is about an American pilot shot down while flying over Vietnam during the war - I recommend it. I also really liked the film Interstellar.
How did you first connect with Bear Group?
I met Greg while looking for jobs specifically dealing with Drupal. After working with Drupal for a few years through previous work experiences, I knew what aspect of web development I wanted to commit to.
Do you have any experience with traveling?
I’ve travelled around Canada, and I travelled around Europe for three weeks going between London and Paris. Paris is a great location for couples, but London was my favorite because there was always some kind of event going on that you could join.
If you have any additional questions for Chris, or just want to send him a note, message him via his Linkedin profile!
Corey joined Bear Group in 2015 and brought with him more than six years of experience working in Drupal and other applications. He is the rare breed of developer that can traverse front-end theming, back-end module development, application integration, all wrapped in strong communication skills.
He is a certified scrum master, writer, and chef. He splits his time between Bear Group and working as a college instructor in a computer science program. He picked up programming one summer in high school, and since then, he's had the opportunity to work with the majority of web frameworks, app development, and game engines.
What is the biggest shift in the digital space that you have experienced?
Well, I started coding on the Commodore 64 so there's a lot of shift in my lifetime. Recently, I'm most interested in the spaces of relevance, things like search relevance to hidden relevance in how content is generated specifically for you, and open hardware space. I believe the aggregation of smaller specialized devices mixed with giving computers an intuitive sense of their users will be extremely powerful to moving beyond "digital" experiences.
What has been the most influential technology for you?
Obviously the web. Not just for the impact it had on the digital market but, for me, it was the lowest barrier of entry to doing something digitally. I didn't grow up with very nice computers or good software, so doing application development in the early 90’s and late 80’s wasn’t possible. But when the web came along a free version of Internet Explorer and Notepad were all you needed to make things happen. Even if you didn't have enough bandwidth to actually put things on the web.
How long have you been teaching at Northwest University in Kirkland?
I've only been at Northwest for one semester. The school doesn't have a computer science program or technology classes that have an application in business or design. We're hopefully going to start the class sequence next year, which'll include an additional semester of algorithms, data structures and design patterns.
What do you like best about the Pacific Northwest?
I like the weather, it's always green, it's near the water, and it always feels clean. Contrary to the infamous "Seattle Freeze" I feel most people are very pleasant and talkative; there's a lot of acceptance here. I’ve lived here my whole life.
We hear you’re something of a chef, what drew you to cooking and what’s your most perfected dish?
I was never a proper chef, but I was professional cook. Just like with my interest in computers, I really like to know how things are made. However, with cooking you have to do a lot that depends upon skills and knowledge that can't be expressed, only implemented and practiced. It works on a different area of your brain. Plus it's nice to work with your hands. With that in mind, I can't say I've perfected anything. I have opinions about what I could have done better with my scrambled eggs. But I'm not too bad at making pasta and challah bread.
What does your perfect day look like?
I like to be pretty active and feel accomplished. However, if we're looking for something fun, I enjoy restaurant-hopping, as opposed to bar hopping, throughout a day. Go to breakfast, grab coffee, get some afternoon pastries, ramen for lunch, let that settle with some tea, early happy hour, apps, dinner, dessert, finally some taco truck at night. Or whatever works for your tastes. Perfect would be putting that on someone else's tab.
If you have any additional questions for Corey, or just want to send him a note welcoming him to the team, send him a tweet via @tiltedlistener!
Travis joined Bear Group in the spring of 2015 as our first Digital Marketing Manager to lead all our marketing efforts. Travis has a BS in Human Communication, and experience that ranges from development, to design, to B2B and B2C marketing.
Having worked in environments from startups to digital agencies, Travis brings 10 years of digital experience working on a wide range of projects and clients, and an endless curiosity that moves him to continually be pursuing new and exciting technology and tactics.
How did you get into biking?
I would say I happened upon biking. My family moved to Portland in 2000 and I had just graduated from high school. I wasn’t working or going to college yet, so my uncle gave me a bike and got me interested in running and cycling. I competed in triathlons until my early twenties and had some pretty good results in the Pacific Northwest. I started biking less while working on my undergrad, though. Post-graduation, I got back into cycling and fell in love with the consistency of the training regimen as well as the exploration I could do on a bike. I have been a competitive cyclist since.
Currently my favorite places to bike are steep, rural, mountain dirt roads with great views, big climbs, and fast descents.
What is your favorite thing about living in Seattle?
Two things: Sports and the water. I am, as well as my family and my wife’s family, big on sports. I love having the ability to go to professional sporting events almost everyday of the year. With the Mariners, Sounders FC, Reign FC, Rainmakers, Seattle Storm, Everett Silvertip, Seahawks (even though I’m not a 12), Huskies Basketball and Football, Seattle is a great location for a sports fanatic. Seattle is a cool city, but if you love the water it is heaven. If you visit, see the city from the water!
However, if I could live anywhere else in the world, I’d choose Paris. It is hands down the best city in the world. I’ve spent some time there as a tourist, but would love the opportunity to live there and really become a local.
Do you have a favorite band or bands?
There is not a single genre of music that I don’t like. I listen to a lot of old time country music, classical, alternative, and rap. Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of mashup music, because I have what I call “music-ADD.” I always have a song or ten in my head, so mashups are good because they bounce around a lot and keep me interested.
Have you traveled at all?
I have been lucky to travel a lot. I’ve been to Australia, Micronesia, Spain, France, and Costa Rica, to name a few. I haven't had any majorly crazy experiences while traveling, but I’ve been wreck diving in Chuuk, surfing in Costa Rica, stayed in an 11th Century chateau in France, and have seen a bullfight in Spain. I consider those all once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
My next international trip will be to Portugal, Italy, or Patagonia.
How did you first get into marketing?
It just happened. Sometimes you make your own destiny and sometimes your destiny finds you. I’ve always been really good at communicating and connecting with people, and as the internet has evolved - especially with the advent of social media - marketing has become the perfect fit for me.
What does your perfect day look like?
Waking up in the mountains, coffee on the porch with my wife and dog, a long bike ride or run in the woods, and then playing cribbage and drinking wine into the night. Either that, or the opening scene to The Last of the Mohicans.
If you have any additional questions for Travis or you just want to say hello, send him a tweet @travcaldwell!
Nikkita Walker is a California native who uprooted herself to study literature in Utah, which should be a testament to how much she loves storytelling. She is a graduate of Brigham Young University, with a degree in English and a minor in Sociocultural Anthropology.
What first interested you in marketing?
I first started working as a marketer when I was in college, trying to get the word out about a student journal that published scifi and fantasy stories. It was challenging work, because the magazine was quite obscure, but really rewarding to reach out to aspiring writers and interested readers who didn’t even know that such a thing was available. I’ve always been interested in writing, and marketing is like it’s own writing style.
What books do you recommend?
This is my favorite question! In order: American Gods by Neil Gaiman, East of Eden by John Steinbeck, The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury, and Sunshine by Robin McKinley. Maybe M is for Magic by Kelly Link. And I’ve recently discovered a great short fiction writer named Alice Sola Kim. Oh! And All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy. Once I start talking about books it’s always difficult to stop.
How has technology affected modern communication and writing?
I think it has been really interesting to see how technology has opened up new means of communication that haven’t really been available before. For example, I have a friend in Thailand that I chat with all the time through Facebook, but when I want to talk to a lot of people at once I use Twitter. If I’m trying to express an emotion, I’m more likely to look for a gif on Pinterest or Tumblr. The variety of ways to express yourself has really driven the creation of new technology and art.
What was the first computer you owned?
A brick. It was a 1993 Dell XPS and between the monitor and the desktop it must have weighed a ton. But back then the dial up tone of that old machine had the same magic to me as the wheezing sound of the TARDIS from Doctor Who.
What social media do you use to stay up to date?
Most of the time I follow events through Facebook, it’s not always the first place information shows up but it is the easiest to manage and usually there are first hand posts from people who were directly involved. Twitter information spreads quickly, it’s so short and to the point. I also love reading The Guardian, I think they have the best quality of writing and the most objective voice when reporting American news.
What do you recommend for visitors to Utah, where you work from?
Start out in Salt Lake City, and eat as much as you can. The foodie scene is booming there and you can get excellent ramen, k-pop fries, handmade marshmallows, and schwarma all on the same street. And then spend whatever time you have left hiking and camping, my personal favorites are Goblin Valley and Zion National Park.
If you have more questions for Nikkita, or would like to welcome her to the team please send her a tweet at @walkernikkita!
Mig is a consultant for Bear Group providing technical leadership for web operations. He manages all of our server environments, works with our development teams, and has specific skills in technologies such as developer automation tools, Jenkins, Puppet, VM’s, caching tools and the full Linux, Apache, PHP, MySQL stack.
Mig was a lead developer on the Aegir project, a deployment system for Drupal and has been involved with Drupal since its inception. Mig is strategically based in Melbourne, Australia providing 24x7 operational support for Bear Group.
How did you find Bear Group?
Actually, it was Bear Group who found me! In 2010, Bear Group was using a popular Drupal hosting system known as ‘Aegir’, of which I was prominent developer at the time. Bear Group sought me out for some contractual work, and I’ve helped out more or less ever since, especially after becoming a full-time consultant in 2011.
What has been your craziest work experience?
Probably my first job in I.T. (when I had no prior professional experience). My boss showed me around, then promptly went on holiday, leaving me in charge of keeping a major international charity’s month-long campaign up and running.
That campaign ended up generating millions of dollars in transactions per day, on a totally under-resourced platform. Not only a crazy experience, but my very first experience. Needless to say, I totally broke the whole thing on the last day. Oops.
The other crazy event I can think of is when one of my best friends showed up at my workplace for a job interview. Not only did he not know I worked there, he was applying to be my boss (he got the job too). Despite this, we’re still friends!
What do you recommend to visitors of your corner of the world?
I live in Australia, where the best thing you can do is just try and avoid being eaten by pretty much every wild animal/insect/reptile that lives here.
But if you survive long enough (and are here in Victoria, east coast), do a road trip along the Great Ocean Road. Explore the Yarra Valley wine region, see some of those wild animals from a safe distance at Healesville Sanctuary. Hop across the strait to Tasmania and visit the MONA art gallery in Hobart.
I’ve lived here all my life and even I haven’t visited all the most exciting places (Uluru, etc.) yet. It’s a big country!
When you’re not working, what are you most likely to be doing?
I spend a lot of time growing vegetables in my garden. I’m a published poet, and go through sporadic periods of intense writing. Otherwise, you’ll find me exploring a wide variety of red wine (syrah/shiraz especially, but I’m drinking an excellent Californian Zinfandel at the moment by Bogle Vineyards).
Can you remember the first computer you ever had?
I don’t know the exact model but it was some early Pentium. My Dad’s also a Linux guy, so I got brought up on the same operating systems that power Bear Group’s servers.
The earliest memory I have of enthusiastically using a computer, though, was hacking the QBasic game ‘Nibbles’ so that I could go through walls. Bending the system to submit to my will is classic sysadmin behaviour! Not much has changed.
How did you become interested in web development?
I learned HTML and Linux at a young age, but I wasn’t really expecting to do web dev or I.T. in general. I was actually in the oil-and-gas engineering industry before I realised I got a lot more enjoyment messing about in Lisp, writing programs to make my job easier, than the actual job itself. I decided to try and get paid to do what I actually enjoy doing, and found myself a job as a Linux sysadmin. Now I run my own consultancy business, helping organisations like Bear Group do things better, faster, and more securely. No regrets!
Bear Group, Inc.
2540 Westlake Avenue North
Seattle, WA 98109