I am a writer and coder, but a gamer at heart.
I was born in 1982 on the north side of Houston, Texas. I went to public school through high school, then went to Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh for college. In college, I spent 2 years studying engineering, 2 years of studying business, and in that time I was the editor-in-chief of The Tartan, and worked as a student programmer at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center.
I have been a gamer my whole life. My father taught me chess on an airplane in 1986, and I played competitive chess on and off into college. I was also a semi-professional Magic player during high school and the early part of college, and I played in places such as Tokyo, London, Barcelona, Capetown, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and many other cities around the world. I was the Texas State champion of Magic at 16, and I have appeared on ESPN2 playing Magic. I’ve paid the bills playing Poker and Magic, and I am casually competitive at Go, Chess, Hearthstone, Slay the Spire, and Starcraft 2, among many other games.
At the tail end of college, I sparked a lasting interest in cooking, and worked my final months of school and a few beyond making next to nothing working under Italian chef Claudio Masci.
My first “real” job after college was working as an ad man for Elias/Savion Advertising, a boutique ad agency in Pittsburgh, PA. I left Elias/Savion in 2006, packing all my stuff in my car, and driving out to San Francisco, CA intending to take a job at Gray Advertising to work on the Adobe account. But on the way SureLogic, a venture-backed start-up focused on static analysis (finding bugs in code), offered me a job. I had worked with the CEO to write their business plan while at Elias/Savion, and I joined as the marketing person on the condition that I could continue on to San Francisco and work remotely.
In 2008, I left SureLogic to co-found Gaia GPS with my now-wife Anna Hentzel Johnson, which became the leading app for backpacking, backcountry skiing, and overlanding, and a cult hit for many other outdoor activities. This was partly the result of living with my best friends Dan Silberman and Kevin Lacker in SF, who openly chided me for my marketing ways and encouraged and taught me to write code professionally. In retrospect, those were heady days in San Francisco, surrounded by programmers and startup people, the birth of Y-Combinator, Reddit, Facebook, the iPhone, and more. I got swept up in one of those big Silicon Valley waves.
Anna and I boot-strapped Gaia GPS with our co-founder Jesse Crocker up to many millions in profitable recurring revenue and a team of 38 working across dozens of US states, plus had 3 kids along the way. We were acquired by Outside Inc in February 2021.