How and Why we Help Customers “Take the Power Back” with Open Source

Erik Wallin and I founded Shadow-Soft in June 2008 to pursue the emerging Open Source Software (OSS) marketplace. We were bored and frustrated providing “traditional” IT solutions and wanted to make a bigger impact.  Knowing OSS was under-serviced, we focused on this “new and emerging” segment and launched Shadow-Soft.

Take The Power Back

From the start, the over-riding goal of the company has been to leverage flexible, secure, creative and reliable open source software to help our customers solve their toughest IT problems.  Our message seemed to appeal to prospects and thankfully, we survived our first year and the start of the Great Recession in 2008 when at least twelve financial institutions including Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers went under. Staying focused on our message, we managed to stay cash-positive and secure several first customers by the end of 2008.

Thirty months later, at the end of 2010, we were at a $3MM run rate with three new hires and a growing set of loyal customers. OSS was entering the mainstream, but was still mostly focused on Linux. The Cloud was just beginning to see adoption and DevOps was in its infancy. Our focus was beginning to resonate with larger customers.

By 2012, Linux adoption was red-lining, DevOps was crossing the chasm, and the Cloud was well on it’s way to early adoption, albeit in the shadows.  We were growing up as a company, diversifying solutions, and moving into “real” offices. The commitment level was high and the camaraderie was intense.

As we transitioned from 2013 into 2014, we started to feel our first growing pains. We surpassed $14MM in annual revenues outgrowing our second office and expanding next door.  We started to struggle with sudden challenges, some we saw coming, others we didn’t. Many of our newer partnerships and technical investments were just beginning to pay off, while some other partnerships were struggling with questionable leadership and “channel apathy.”

Then the bottom fell out on May 3, 2015, when our co-founder and my partner, Erik Wallin, passed away suddenly, leaving a major hole in the fabric of our company. Erik’s presence and personal touch were immediately and noticeably missing. Somehow, though, the company kept its momentum, led largely by the confidence and dedication of the amazing team I’m fortunate enough to lead. They believed in the company and they believed in our mission. And everyone was determined to see things through in Erik’s honor.

At the start in 2008, our strategy was to be a “world-renowned, open source focused integrator,” which was catchy but not completely on point.  Surviving the soured economy and the emotional turmoil of losing Erik forced us to look inward as a company to review our mission and identity.  After many conversations and remembering my time with Erik, I realized that our mission over nine years ago was much more personal.  When you boiled it down, our motivation for starting Shadow-Soft was to “Take the Power Back” (#TTPB) for our careers, our lives and our families.

But it doesn’t not stop there. “Take the Power Back” also represents what Shadow-Soft promises to our customers, and how we help them use open source and open standards to control their technology future.

#TTPB has become an internal and external mantra

What started as a personal journey for Erik and me has become the battle cry for what Shadow-Soft is today.  It applies to every employee we hire and every customer we serve.  It’s a bold view, but it’s who we are and how we operate. And as we reflect on our first nine plus years, we wanted to share these philosophies with you, our customers, employees and partners.

Thank you for trusting us with your business needs and for giving us the opportunity to help your company strive to meet its enterprise IT goals. We want to help you transform your IT systems to solve meaningful business challenges, using the power and flexibility of open source. Please call us today to ask us how we can help you Take The Power Back, #TTPB.

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