Stable Kernel’s co-founder Jason Russell has taken over as CEO of the Atlanta-based custom software and app development firm.
Russell has been with Stable Kernel for over eight years as the company has built up its client portfolio with the likes of BMW, CDC, Honeywell, Target, and Creature Comforts.
The team is nearly 75 employees strong — a number that has doubled over the last year to keep up with post-pandemic demand build up.
As he settles into the CEO seat, we asked Russell a few questions about what’s next for the bootstrapped company and what trends he is seeing in the software development space.
Here are some of his thoughts:
Question: How would you describe Stable Kernel to someone who is not familiar?
We are a “greenfield,” meaning that we are a from-scratch, custom software development company. We take the technical, strategic, and business challenges of various clients and create solutions for them that lead to revenue and/or company growth, improved efficiency, and greater insight into their own organizations and customers.
Question: How have you seen the company change since getting off the ground?
We’ve always been clear that we have a unique skill for solving complex challenges for our clients by building custom software for them. We’ve been doing that since day one, and it will always be core to our offering. But after 10 years of doing so for various clients and solutions, the biggest change is probably in how adept we’ve become at approaching new projects as a unified, multidisciplinary team. When our market researchers, client engagement team, UX designers, architects, and engineers work together on a solution, each bringing their unique perspective and knowledge, we can build incredible things for our clients.
Another major change has been the shape of our workforce, which was once exclusively local to Atlanta. During the pandemic, we launched our “People Before Place” model, granting tremendous flexibility to our colleagues in determining their work location. While many company cultures have suffered under the strain of the more remote world, SK’s employees are thriving. We focus on using our values and commitment to the client — not our physical proximity — to connect us. It’s gone so well that we’ve added colleagues from other states (and even a couple of other countries) to our team, adding talent we couldn’t previously access. Our employee engagement is incredibly high; we won the Great Place to Work certification this year. Of course, we still love occasionally getting together in our O4W office along the Beltline, and we have other gatherings during the year, but we’ve proven we can do exceptional, connected work while we’re physically apart.
Question: Describe this moment in time for the company. What is your focus coming into Q4 2022?
- As a services business, a big piece of our Q4 initiative is securing our contracts for 2023. We like to have more than 50 percent of our business secured for the upcoming year by the end of Q4.
- We are in a prime position to help organizations realize their goals. With the high demand of IT workers being such a challenge, we are in a great position to alleviate their resourcing challenges in order to accomplish their business objectives.
Question: What has your funding strategy been to date?
Stable Kernel is 100 percent self-funded. We have no investors and no debt. We never wanted to be beholden to someone, or have a group of people making decisions for Stable Kernel, so we made the decision early on to self-fund our growth. Therefore, we grow at a predictable pace that allows us to scale and take on the clients we want to work with.
Question: What trends in software are you noticing from your current customers and their needs?
We are seeing that our clients are moving from Java and other languages that rely upon the Java Virtual Machine to Golang. Golang is offering speed and performance that JVM technology is just unable to match. Clients are moving toward Golang because the speed and performance that it provides reduces computing costs in their cloud environments. This multifactor increase over JVM adds up to real savings.
In addition, we are seeing clients moving away from orchestrated container environments, such as Kubernetes, and using more serverless computing platforms such as AWS Lambda. Clients are also relying heavily upon federated SSO systems, i.e., Google, OKTA, etc., to manage and maintain user account services. This provides a reduction in development costs because user accounting systems do not have to be written from scratch.
Lastly, as commensurate with the industry, DevOps is now taking more of a front seat when it comes to development and maintenance. Organizations are starting to branch off SRE (Site Reliability Engineering) into its own discipline. SRE is focused mainly on uptime and runtime management of an application.