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Nov. 7, 2012 11:00 am

Loren Brichter: “I want to build a great life here,” says Letterpress developer, atebits and Tweetie founder

Forgive the cheesesteak lede, but Loren Brichter (@lorenb) fell in love with them before he had ever even been to Philadelphia. The man who built what became the Twitter iOS app, worked on the original Apple iPhone team and holds a patent for pull-to-refresh launched last month Letterpress, a free word game that put gadget […]

Forgive the cheesesteak lede, but Loren Brichter (@lorenb) fell in love with them before he had ever even been to Philadelphia.

The man who built what became the Twitter iOS app, worked on the original Apple iPhone team and holds a patent for pull-to-refresh launched last month Letterpress, a free word game that put gadget blogs in a tizzy, under his atebits one-man company brand.

Download Letterpress for iOS here.

While being downloaded 60,000 in the first day is news enough, it’s worth adding that he’s been doing that work while living in Bella Vista near 7th and Fitzwater.

“This is totally just a big bucket of experiments,” said Brichter, 27, of Letterpress. “Obviously games have just taken over the App Store, and I just had no experience with it. I had no experience with gaming, with doing a free app, or in-app purchases.”

He’s about to push out version 1.1 of Letterpress to deal with game center errors and some new features and says he hopes to build out the effort to see if it sticks but isn’t planning on necessarily building “a gaming company.”

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Brichter grew up in Manhattan and then went to school at Tufts outside Boston — that’s where he first had a cheesesteak and it became his “favorite food group.” He so raved about that wonderful salty combination of beef, cheese and bread, that his West Chester-native girlfriend flew him to Philadelphia for his birthday to have Pat’s.

“That was my first time in Philadelphia,” he said.

After Tufts, he got snatched by Apple, where he secured his reputation by being a part of the original iPhone team. Afterward, he began building what became the wildly popular Tweetie, the first celebrated Twitter app. In 2010, Twitter bought Tweetie and brought Brichter on to develop a team until he left in November 2011.

Still with his girlfriend, she and Brichter wanted to come back to the East Coast. Her family was in West Chester, his was in New York, so Philadelphia became a sensible choice.

“I can’t not live in a city, and Philly seems to be really down to earth,” Brichter said, after living here two years.

So how do we retain Brichter and attract even more top-flight tech talent? In his case, there’s not a technology community answer, he says, but an answer the entire city can celebrate.

“I work alone, so I can work anywhere in the world with decent Internet. Even when I lived in California and I was in Berkley, I think I had two meetings with people in San Francisco,” he said. “I am heads down working, so I just want a great place to live.”

What does that mean practically? Brichter says something we’ve all heard in the last couple years: build a first-run movie theater in Center City. The Ritz options in Old City are great walkable choices for independent film, he says, but the Riverview Regal on Columbus Boulevard at Reed Street is “just sticky floors, old and sad, so we go to Jersey to see, like, a Pixar film.”

“Really just build a great city,” he says of what will keep him here. “I want to build a great life here.”

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Christopher Wink

Christopher Wink is a cofounder and Editorial Director of Technical.ly, the local technology news network. Previously, Wink worked for a homeless advocacy nonprofit and was a freelance reporter for a variety of publications. He writes regularly about news innovation and best business practices on his personal blog here. The bicycle commuter loves cities, urban politics and squabbling about neighborhood boundaries.

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