Systems Architect / President
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.
The Six Things You Need to Know About Greg Bear
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!