I. Creating the New SmugMug - companyhistory

We want to remember.

The months, weeks, and days leading up to the July 30 unveiling of a re-designed SmugMug will always be remembered as a blur of feverish coding, designing, and writing. Days bled into nights, and every person in the company rallied to push us forward.

Amidst the chaos, we paused to capture moments that otherwise would have been forgotten - the late nights, the tough decisions, the moments of giddiness. 

The greatest products in history have always gone through periods of great change. These periods have allowed us to reinvent what's possible, to push boundaries, and that's exactly what we've done. It's the beginning of a new era, and we want to share every bit of it with you.
  • 5 months until launch of the new SmugMug. The entire company gathers for a meeting to discuss major developments in the design and engineering of the new SmugMug. The team commits to a mid-summer deadline for launch. Design Director Vilen Rodeski and Lead Sorcerer (aka Engineer) Brian Strong lead the charge.

  • 5 months until launch. Co-founder Chris MacAskill aka Baldy acknowledges the pressure that everyone in the company, particularly the Sorcerers and Designers, will feel in the months leading up to the launch.

  • 5 months until launch. Vilen demos new design features to the company.

  • 5 months until launch. At our weekly all-company meeting, we discuss major updates and news. Half of the company works outside of our headquarters in Mountain View, CA, and they tune in via video.

  • 33 days until launch. A chance to blow off steam and have fun. All of the images used in the new SmugMug's marketing pages were shot in-house by someone on staff. Many got scratched along the way, including this one. Pictured L-R: Sorcerer Bobby Yang, Director of Marketing Denise Gamboa, Designer Craig Murray, Sorcerer Lee Shepherd, Quality Assurance Tester Janet Bracewell, Butters, Sorcerer Kevin Harrington, Customer Support Hero Eric Trimble, Design Director Vilen Rodeski.

  • 28 days until launch. With the months until the unveiling of the new SmugMug quickly turning into weeks and then days, Chief Geek Don MacAskill moves the new SmugMug out of "test" mode and into a top-secret, but live mode of access. "It's live! It's live!" he exclaims. For the next 28 days, our team will hammer away, continually refining, building, and fixing features along the way. This is it. We're almost there. Pictured L-R: Brian Strong, Don MacAskill and Iria Tam, Emily Chen.

  • 18 days until launch. You can always count on Social Butterfly Michael Bonocore to cut loose.

  • 14 days until launch. Product Manager Evan and Sorcerer Mike Diaz under pressure.

  • 13 days until launch. Our small company of 7 has grown into a company of 100+ in just a handful of years. It's time to shoot a new staff photo.

  • 13 days until launch. As we count down the days until launch, we rapidly write and rewrite our marketing and help pages. Our Copywriter, Brooke, and our Director of Marketing, Denise Gamboa spend hours together, reviewing every detail.

  • 11 days until launch. Much of the SmugMug Sorcery (aka Engineering) team works in a semi-open area called "the Pit." Co-Founder Chris MacAskill can be frequently found huddling with SmugMug staff looking to brainstorm or work through a difficult problem. Pictured L-R: Brian Strong, Evan Deffley, Chris MacAskill, Vilen Rodeski, Yuping He.

  • 11 days until launch. The mastermind behind the new SmugMug, Brian Strong, is shown here on video, talking about the inspiration behind this major engineering effort. It started as a a germ of an idea and ultimately took 2 years to redesign SmugMug from the ground up: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9xvcm3ba8nw

  • 11 days until launch. Chris, Vilen, Brian, Yuping and Evan huddle together deep in thought.

  • 11 days until launch. The days run into the evenings, with hardly a break. Chris MacAskill, who customers, staff and even grandkids refer to as "Baldy," is as focused as ever at 10pm.

  • 11 days until launch. Chief Geek Don MacAskill puts in many all-nighters. We're all hands on deck, and Don leads by example.

  • 11 days until launch. Sorcerer Bobby Yang joined SmugMug just 4 months before launch and got swept right into the thick of things.

  • 11 days until launch. Social Butterflies Michael Bonocore and Katherine Cheng in action.

  • 8 days until launch. Our last company-wide meeting before the launch of the new SmugMug. There's a lot to do.

  • 8 days until launch. Bobby applies finishing touches to SmugMug's new home page.

  • 8 days until launch. Denise and Data Scientist Anya Hunt tie up a few loose ends.

  • 8 days until launch. 11pm looks just like 11am. Even the office dogs are exhausted and ready to go home. Pictured L-R: Evan Deffley, Designer Duc Le, Quality Assurance Tester Eric Petruno, Sorcerer Angelo DiNardi, Sorcerer Kevin Harrington.

  • 7 days until launch. Another late night. Evan Deffley and Eric Petruno have decamped from their regular offices to stay close to the Sorcerers. Software bugs need to be found and fixed quickly as we charge forward to launch day.

  • 7 days until launch. Putting final touches on an email announcing the July 30 live streaming event of SmugMug's launch.

  • 7 days until launch. Design Director Vilen Rodeski consults with Director of Marketing Denise Gamboa. Pictured L-R: Chris MacAskill, Vilen Rodeski, Denise Gamboa, Alastair Jolly.

  • 7 days until launch. We email our customer base, announcing the July 30 live streaming event of SmugMug's launch. We're exhilarated and focused. If you missed it, you can watch it here: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/36604627

  • 7 days until launch. Chief Geek Don MacAskill and his Dad/Co-Founder Baldy react to the news that David Pogue of the NYTimes will write an exclusive article on the new SmugMug. It's a dream come true for a small, home-grown company like ours.

  • 7 days until launch. Don and Baldy aren't known for being particularly stoic, but the news of coverage in the NYTimes has them hollering more excitedly than usual.

  • 5 days until launch. Silicon Valley icon Robert Scoble in the house! He's an old friend, and we're happy to lend him a majorly fun lens owned by Chris MacAskill.

  • 5 days until launch. Before SmugMug, Chris MacAskill worked with Steve Jobs, and the lessons from that time continue to inspire us. He reflects, "I miss Steve Jobs. It's 2 in the morning and his words are on the wall and in the design of the machines we use. We dream of a launch on Tuesday (July 30) even he'd admire."

  • 4 days until launch. It's all hands on deck, and even on the weekends, every seat in our lunch room is filled.

  • 4 days until launch. With 100+ visitors expected to attend our July 30 launch event in person, plus thousands more watching via live stream, we order gorgeous new Metal Prints from Bay Photo Lab to line our walls. The new group photo in particular elicits laughs. There's always someone frowning, isn't there? :) Pictured L-R: Head of HR Erin Strong, Office Manager Stephanie Drazic, Denise Gamboa, Toni MacAskill, Katherine Cheng, Nick Wrzesinski, Michael Bonocore, Kevin Harrington.

  • 4 days until launch. Pro Concierge Sean Rogan spends hours in a makeshift studio, recording the audio for new SmugMug Help Tutorials, viewable here: http://www.youtube.com/user/smugmug/videos

  • 4 day until launch. Countess of Cash Toni MacAskill (aka the wife of Chris and mother of Don) catches up with the Managers of our Customer Support team, Barb Gates and Ana Pogacar.

  • 3 days until launch. Sugar-packed snacks are essential.

  • 2 days until launch. Sorceress Iria Tam has a special fondness for tigers and occasionally calls on an old friend for comfort.

  • 2 days until launch. Technical Account Manager Nick Wrzesinski gets interviewed by Frederick Van Johnson of This Week In Photo.

  • 2 days until launch. Now that we've gone from leaving at 3:00am to not leaving for many days and nights at a time, Office Manager Stephanie Drazic raids the store for essentials.

  • 2 days until launch. It's midnight. The office is quiet but bustling with focused activity. Here, the team gathers in Vilen's office to review prospective design tweaks. Pictured L-R: Vilen Rodeski, Don MacAskill, Brian Strong, Product Manager Mark MacAskill.

  • 2 days until launch. Social Butterfly Michael Bonocore makes sure he's plenty hydrated.

  • 2 days until launch. No compromises from this team. Pictured L-R: Design Director Vilen Rodeski, Chief Geek Don MacAskill and Lead Sorcerer Brian Strong.

  • 25 hours until launch. Sean Rogan breaks the tension with a joke. Pictured L-R: Intern Sid Grabosky, Sean Rogan, Iria Tam, Julian Jaramillo, Evan Deffley, Emily Chen, Angelo DiNardi.

  • 1 day until launch. Quick break to refuel and reenergize. Pictured L-R: Yuping He, Michael Bonocore, Julian Jaramillo, Evan Deffley, Eric Petruno.

  • 1 day until launch. Faces are haggard with only a few hours of sleep. Pictured L-R: Education Team Member Ann McCrae, Nick Wrzesinski, Customer Support Hero John Polanek, Marketing Designer Chris Olson.

  • 1 day until launch. Sorcerer Kevin Harrington captured an uplifting image of the Freedom Tower (NYC) rising above. We thought it was only fitting that we'd find a spot on the ceiling to hang it, and that we did. The print now hangs in the in the sky light above our lunch room.

  • 1 day until launch. We test out our 15,000-lumen super-bright projector rental for tomorrow's launch, and it looks awful. Plan B in motion. Pictured: Customer Support Manager Ana Pogacar.

  • 1 day until launch. Videographer Anton Lorimer checks every last detail to make sure the final production of our launch event is top-notch.

  • 1 day until launch. New panorama installation. Pictured: Brian Strong, Chris MacAskill and Kevin Harrington.

  • 1 day until launch. Office Manager Stephanie Drazic is prepared to spend 48 hours at the office.

  • 1 day until launch. Intern Alex Zielinski power naps at 7:30pm.

  • 1 day until launch. First rehearsal of the launch event. Pictured: Chris MacAskill and Brian Strong.

  • 1 day until launch. Brian Strong will give a live demo of the new SmugMug. Every move needs to be perfect.