Software Development
N3rd Street

Mac Morgan, principal at software dev shop DmgCtrl: ‘Keep your eye on quality. Everything else is a distraction.’

In effort to grow our community, we want to introduce you to interesting Philadelphians you might not know. Each week, we’ll speak to someone new and have that person introduce us to someone else we should know. Last week: George Ward, VP, Innovation at Center City marketing firm Neiman. This week: Mac Morgan, principal at Callowhill software […]

In effort to grow our community, we want to introduce you to interesting Philadelphians you might not know. Each week, we’ll speak to someone new and have that person introduce us to someone else we should know. Last week: George Ward, VP, Innovation at Center City marketing firm Neiman. This week: Mac Morgan, principal at Callowhill software dev shop DmgCtrl.

For a company that deals with clients, DmgCtrl is quite mysterious.

All the software dev shop’s website will tell you is that “68% of software projects fail. We don’t.” The company, former N3rd Streeters based on top of Indy Hall, quietly moved to Callowhill at the end of last year to accommodate growth (the company is at 19 staffers, Morgan said, up from 16 last fall). Even principal Mac Morgan keeps under wraps — until now, he has only ever been seen on Technically Philly in a hippo mask. But it’s all part of Morgan’s plan, as he explained to us in our interview. 

Below, we work to unravel the mystery of the developer in the hippo mask.

“Big scary problems are the kind we like to get our hands on.”
  1.  A/S/L? 32/m/North Wales (suburbs north of the city)
  2. How long have you lived in Philly? When did you found DmgCtrl? Been in Philly all my life. DmgCtrl was founded in June 2010.
  3. Best/worst/weirdest job pre-DmgCtrl? How about job I was least qualified for? I started a performance/race car shop when I was around 23. Seemed like a good idea at the time, but I didn’t really know about the business beyond it sounded fun. To my business partners’ credit, the shop is still around today and much better off than I left it, and I learned some pretty good business lessons along the way.
  4. What does an average day at work look like for you? Cursing, scratching my head and lots of pacing. I try and get a game of ping pong in every day I can, and still try and make sure I have some time to actually still get some code in. Pretty much everyone in our organization can code and we like to keep it that way, so, making sure I still touch code everyday is pretty important, some days are easier than others for that.
  5. If you could collaborate with anyone or any organization in the local tech scene, who/what org would it be? Probably Comcast and for the reason that they have some really big and interesting problem space to contend with, between the set top box, 2nd screens, their content business, and who knows what else. They have a a big sandbox to play in and some big scary problems to solve. Big scary problems are the kind we like to get our hands on.
  6. Can you send us a photo of your workstation? This is what pretty much all our workstations look like [Editor’s note: Everyone has a flamingo? Pink swan?]. We try and keep it like that so people can be a bit transient and plug in to different desks on different days and be around different sets of people — makes for a very cohesive team.IMG_0673
  7. Tell us about a workplace tradition or a part of company culture. Every Friday we order pizza and everyone shares something they did or learned from the previous week. What they are working on, a trick they learned, a library they built, etc. Spreading knowledge is a huge part of what we do and critical to staying sharp in this business. We are very much a culture based on constant learning and sharing knowledge.
  8. What’s an important lesson you’ve learned during your time at DmgCtrl? Bestow upon us a little wisdom. Do great work and everything sorts itself out. We don’t advertise (you can see from how sparse our website is) and rarely have to even pitch work, people find out about us entirely through word of mouth. So keep your eye on quality. Everything else is a distraction.
  9. Can you introduce us to someone in the broad local tech scene who you think doesn’t get enough attention? I’d recommend talking to Andrew Newcomb, General Partner of MissionOG and coincidentally my cousin.

Check back for our next installment featuring Andrew Newcomb, General Partner of MissionOG. 

Companies: Tonic Design / MissionOG / Neiman

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