I was a Jamf customer for nearly 10 years before becoming a JumpStart Integrator and later an employee. Friday’s release of a marketing piece (now retracted) comparing Jamf to free and open source software (FOSS) was a surprise to many Jamfs as well as the community at large. Don’t let this mistake set your opinion about Jamf’s culture and values.
How many remember Jamf when its employee total was two — just Chip Pearson and Zach Halmstad? I do. I remember meeting them at a local user group around 2005 where they were taking every advantage of opportunities and events to put themselves out there to build this new business around “Mac management”. They were some of the early visionaries that believed Apple in organizations was going somewhere and those organizations would need help making Apple succeed.
Jamf’s values of selflessness and relentless self-improvement started with Chip and Zach, and in their first years of hiring employees, they brought in folks like Jason Wudi and Sam Johnson who personified those same values. Jamf’s culture was shaped by these and other original Jamfs. Early customers will remember calling for support and getting one of them on the phone. Placing someone “on hold” meant covering the mouthpiece and “researching a solution” meant leaning back and yelling across the room, “hey, how did we fix that thing…?” While they were pretty low tech and wearers of many hats, they were honest and made a concerted effort to do everything they could to help their customers, who were often on a first name basis with them. Every day I try to reflect what they started a dozen years ago because I share those same values.
I remember wanting to work for Jamf several years ago, but I wasn’t a developer and didn’t see myself as someone they’d want to hire. Eventually, they grew large enough to warrant a Human Resources department, a Marketing department, Sales, and other internal groups not directly related to development or support. For the longest time, most employees fell into two camps — a University of Wisconsin — Eau Claire graduate or former customer. Anyone who used Casper (rebranded as Jamf Pro) or knew someone who worked for Jamf wanted to work there. We saw their values.
Jamf suffers from its own success, though. The struggles of starting a new company built and revealed a lot of character in its employees in those early days. Culture today is very different from culture back then because most of us never knew those early struggles. That’s just going to happen considering how quickly Jamf has grown. And with this marketing piece comparing FOSS unfavorably to Jamf, we’ve let that show. However, I don’t believe Jamf’s values have ever changed. Chip and Zach are still here. So are Wudi and Sam and many early Jamfs. And so are folks like me who saw those values and wanted to come work here years ago and appreciate working here today.
As Bryson Tyrrell reminded us internally, we believe in “Jamf AND not Jamf OR”. Yesterday, something slipped through from us that shouldn’t have. But it was our values that pulled it back and apologized for it. We’ve had a great internal discussion about our very core beliefs and, while painful, it’s something a company that has grown as quickly as Jamf must be reminded of from time to time.
I hope anyone who knows me, who knows anyone I mentioned or who knows any other long-term Jamf will accept that so long as we’re here, we’re going to work to promote the same culture and values that brought us here in the first place.