I began making websites in the early days of the web (1990s). I started by hand-coding websites. Soon friends and I began experimenting with creating tools that allowed people to update websites on their own. One example was a website we created for a local non-profit that allowed them to make easier changes. We thought, “What if they could just click on the photo they want to change and change it?” We succeeded in pulling it off and the client loved it, but the code was clunky and terrible. It didn’t matter. It worked and that made us happy.
During this time, I was a professor in the Multimedia Department at UArts, and I had a student, Alex Gilbert, who was also into coding websites. I ran into him one day on the street and said something like, “We built this cool website for a client where they can click on whatever they want to change and edit it. You should check it out.” Before we knew it, we were building websites for clients together.
It quickly grew from one-offs into an on-going partnership. When Alex graduated from UArts in 2006, we decided to become business partners and turn the venture of designing and building websites into a full-time gig called P’unk Ave.
We used lots of different technologies to build websites in the early P’unk Ave years, but were never happy with the way they worked for our clients or the quality of their code. In 2008, we set out to create a tool for building and maintaining websites in the spirit of the first ‘prototype’ we created for that non-profit. This time we wanted code to be joyful to work with and were supported in that effort by a new team member, Tom Boutell. As the creator of the PNG file format and the first streaming solution for the web, RealAudio Player, he brought deep computer science know-how to the mix. Thanks to Tom, the code for this version was NOT clunky and terrible– it was a tool we were proud of and loved to use, so we released it as an open source project called Apostrophe.
For the past decade, we’ve been rewriting and refining Apostrophe while using it on hundreds and hundreds of client projects.
We have spun Apostrophe out as its own company– Apostrophe Technologies, Inc. Apostrophe’s adoption as an open source content management system has been rapidly growing, and we are serving a broad range of customers who love it. In simple terms, Apostrophe has taken on a life of its own and it is time for it to have the space to grow in its own way.
Alex Gilbert is the CEO of Apostrophe Technologies. Alex has provided leadership for the Apostrophe product for some time, so this is a natural evolution. He has an incredible ability to breathe life into ideas and to stay calm and grounded.
Of course, Alex has played a large role in day-to-day operations at P'unk Ave, so we went searching for a managing director with an appreciation for P’unk’s culture. Our first thought happened to be the husband of a former P’unk. For a long time we have respected the way he approaches his work and, equally important, the way he treats people. Thankfully, the planets aligned and Anthony Robinson came on as our Managing Director of P’unk Ave. Anthony has been working with Alex and me over the last few months and has already been operating P'unk Ave with a steady hand and a kind heart.
Matt Goold is a partner at P’unk Ave and has expanded responsibilities in his role as Design Director. As a member of the team for over 5 years, Matt brings both experience and some deep P’unk soul to the leadership mix. Kristen Angelucci was recruited to the leadership team in the brand new role of Director of Brand & Community. Her background in the nonprofit world and her passion for creating an inclusive and welcoming workplace has already led to positive changes that we all feel. Rounding out the leadership team is our Engineering Director, Austin Starin. Austin started as a developer at P’unk Ave over 3 years ago and has grown into a well-loved leader on the team.
Having increasingly focused his energy on Apostrophe in recent years, Tom Boutell is stepping into the role of CTO at Apostrophe Technologies. Tom is a partner in both firms and will remain very involved supporting P’unk Ave clients who use Apostrophe every day. The relationship between P’unk Ave and Apostrophe will remain close.
As a founder of P’unk Ave, it is personally gratifying to see this group of leaders – Anthony, Kristen, Matt, Austin – living and extending the P’unk values. The ‘new’ leadership team has already exceeded my expectations. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for P’unk Ave.
As a white male founder of a company almost 15 years ago in a space that often felt white and male, diversity and inclusion was not top of mind. As the years ticked by, it became more and more of a top priority for us to reflect the diversity of the amazing city we call home - Philadelphia. This new leadership is a big step in that direction and it has already led to transformation inside our organization. (As a side note, I’m happy to talk with anyone thinking through this.)
I am stepping into the role of Chief Partnerships Officer at Apostrophe, a role I was born to do. My focus is on the relationships that allow us to operate and grow. It is all about connecting with the people that we have the honor to work with and I can’t wait to do more of it.
Alex and I remain owners in P’unk Ave. We have created a board that meets with the P’unk leadership regularly to provide advice and guidance along with our nearly daily quick conversations in Slack.
This is an exciting time for us. An early prototype of Apostrophe is the very thing that brought my partner Alex and I together in the founding of P’unk Ave. A chance for Apostrophe to soar and a chance for P’unk Ave to live up to higher values is a dream come true.
Very much excited,