The last time we checked in on the Friends of The Web developers, we were riding an elevator up three floors in their Patterson Park home-cum-office space.
But since April 1, the four cofounders of the web and app development shop have been working from a different third-floor space just south of Penn Station in Mount Vernon: a 2,400-square-foot office on the 1300 block of St. Paul Street.
While cofounder Andy Mangold said some of the reason for the switch was to be more “centrally located” in the city, the better proximity to Maryland Institute College of Art — where both Mangold and cofounder Anthony Mattox attended — influenced their decision as well.
“There’s a lot of talent coming through MICA that we want to be able to to work with,” Mangold said.
Case in point: Kevin Zweerink, a rising junior at MICA who’s working full-time with Friends of The Web this summer.
Although Friends remains a four-person shop in the strict sense that only the four cofounders are full-time, the crew has enlisted the help of iOS developer Tim Arnold for several contract projects since the fall.
It was Arnold, in fact, who wrote all the code for the Friends of The Web’s newest iPhone app, Tall Chess. And Mangold’s old MICA roommate, Dai Foldes, a font and type designer, works occasionally from the Friends’ new office, in addition to cooking them all lunch every day.
Mangold said Friends of The Web signed a three-year lease for the space. In other words, despite a few offers from others to purchase the business, the Friends cofounders are putting down roots in Baltimore, and have no interest in selling away a job they all plan to keep doing.
What the Friends might sell (if the offer is right) are any future iPhone apps they develop. Mangold said outside offers have been made to purchase Wikiweb and Jittergram, two Friends apps with more than 300,000 downloads combined. But Apple prevents companies from transferring apps to new ownership inside the iTunes store. So if a company wanted to purchase just Jittergram, that company would have to purchase the Friends’ iTunes storefront.
They’re controlling for this in Tall Chess by selling the app through its own entity, Tall Chess LLC, within the iTunes store. Should a company express interest in acquiring Tall Chess (for which Arnold holds a part-ownership stake), the Friends could sell that one app thanks to the distinction.