Moving on from Highrise

Nathan Kontny
4 min readApr 5, 2018

Last Friday, March 30, was my team’s last day with Highrise. The entire Highrise team, including myself, is moving on.

It’s been an extremely challenging project, but this team has worked incredibly well together under tight resource constraints. There were just 7 of us running Highrise (with help from the talented DevOps team at Basecamp) generating millions in profit each year. I can’t recommend these folks highly enough. And we’re deeply thankful to our customers who gave us a chance to serve them with our work. I couldn’t be happier with what we accomplished.

I’m so impressed with each and every one of them. Honestly, they could do any job you threw at them. Build simple and yet complex things, make customers happy, run your business. It doesn’t matter. They did it all here at Highrise. We’re all exploring our next projects.

Here are 2 of the best support/customer success people you’ll ever meet:

Chris Gallo, Head of Customer Support

I hired Chris because he was already doing support for me at Draft for free and I hadn’t even asked him to :) He’s incredibly ambitious and helpful in every aspect of your business, way beyond typical support. He’ll run your business if you want him to. I promise you, customers will write in to you about how much they love Chris.

Alison Groves, Customer Support

Alison has had some awesome experience before Highrise working at Zapier and Raven Tools. She makes a big impression on customers and came up with this incredible idea for us that more companies should be doing: individual onboarding welcome videos. This effort alone had a big impact on the business. She doesn’t just do her job well, she embraces the company and especially the customers.

The engineering team is insane. You can apply them to all of the problems. “Full stack” is an understatement.

Michael Dwan, CTO

Michael was a YC alum (S11) and the engineer behind creating an awesome photo application called Snapjoy, which was quickly acquired by Dropbox. Highrise would have burned to the ground years ago without Michael. He can build anything. Just two “tiny” examples, he and Jon Phenow built both our Android and iPhone apps using a single C# codebase and our bulk email backend using Go.

Jon Phenow, Engineer

Jon has been Michael’s right hand, building our web app, native apps, everything. One of the things I’ve loved most about Jon is once he helps with your old legacy code, you’ll notice how it is instantly much better. Jon’s desire to leave a place better than he found it shows not only in his work, but in his attitude and overall outlook on life.

Ryan Brunner, Engineer

Ryan has worked in web development for 15 years, mostly for marketing SaaS companies like SharedInsights, Eloqua, and Influitive. He’s also a phenomenal teacher at various code school programs. Ryan is another one of those people you can apply to any problem and you’ll come out ahead. He’s also laser focused on shipping which has been critical here where we’ve needed momentum. Note: Ryan is based on Ontario, Canada.

Lynette Kontny, COO

Lynette has been my right hand here at Highrise. She essentially runs the place and does everything that isn’t code. From product design to project management to legal to marketing to analytics to HR. She could easily be your CEO or lead any team and effort you imagine.

I could talk about this team all day, but I left those descriptions brief. Feel free to reach out to folks individually, or I’m happy to introduce you. Everyone would love to work together again, but we’re also happy exploring what’s next individually.

As for me, I’m not sure what’s next. My main goal is to find landing spots for the talented people above. If you’re hiring or know someone looking for the best employees they’d ever meet, please give these folks a look.

I’ve been the founder of a couple YC companies: Inkling (W06, acquired by Cultivate Labs) and Cityposh (S11, which became Draft). I took Highrise on as a turnaround project in 2014 doing everything from engineering to design to marketing. I’ll take a short breath here and figure out what’s next. Have a few ideas, but still exploring.

What I do know for sure is that things are definitely about to become even more interesting on my YouTube channel: You should follow the adventure there. It’ll be full of more twists, turns, successes and failures. :) And if I can be of any help to anyone with anything, please reach out. I’m at or @natekontny

P.S. Some places to follow the adventure: YouTube, Twitter, or a plain old email newsletter.

As for Highrise: Basecamp’s running things. You can ask them about future questions.



Nathan Kontny

Y Combinator alum. Created Draft ( Watch: Previous: Highrise CEO, Rockstar Coders CTO